Maybe it’s just me. I’ve meditated with music, without music, with brain entrainment tones and without, with subliminals and without.  My preferred method of meditation is complete silence.  I’ve noticed however, that regardless of whether or not I use music or binaural audio, or subliminals or silence, and regardless of time of day, I end up falling asleep. It usually takes a while to get to that state, because when I first start to meditate my mind is full of thoughts. It takes a few minutes for me to get into the flow, and quite my mind. The longer I sit, the quieter my mind gets, and eventually I find myself falling asleep.  I know I fall asleep because I snap out of it with a head jerk, or a noise snaps me out of it, much like when dozing off in a long meeting or class.  

I know that there is a fine line between sleep and meditation—they are not the same thing. Sleep is subconscious, and the decrease of energy. Meditation requires an increase of energy, and the will to reach super consciousness.  The problem for me, I believe, is the process of quieting my mind and “settling in” is such a peaceful state, and one that I don’t get to experience during other times in a typical day, that I take advantage of it and sink into blissful sleep. 

After doing some research on this topic, I was relieved to learn I was not the only person this happens to. In fact, it’s quite common when people first start to meditate. I’m not exactly a beginner, however I have been experimenting with various methods of meditation and time of day, as a matter of research, the goal being to find the best method and time of day for me in order to get the most benefit.  After all, you don’t know what works best for you if you don’t try different methods. 

My research resulted in several tips for preventing sleep and staying on point with meditation. The suggestions are:

  1. Meditate first thing in the morning, after you get out of bed and walk around and get your blood flowing.  (I still fell asleep after doing this).  Meditating before bedtime may be tougher, as it’s more likely you’ll be tired at the end of a busy day and naturally fall asleep.
  2. Do a walking meditation. Unless you have a tendency to walk in your sleep, you should be able to stay awake during a walking meditation!
  3. Before beginning meditation, take several deep breaths to start energy flowing. Visualize energy and life force flowing through you. This should energize you enough to stay awake during your meditation.
  4. Repeat a mantra. Focusing on a mantra might keep you from falling asleep. I’ve done both, meditation with a mantra and without. I like to mediate in complete silence, however that is more likely to lead to my dozing off.  If I repeat a mantra such as “I am” or “Ohm” or “Ahhhh” it should enable me to stay awake.
  5. Don’t meditate for too long of a stretch. I try to meditate for 40 minutes or so.  One suggestion was to break it up during the day. Notice your breath at various times during your day, such as while brushing your teeth, doing dishes, etc.  I don’t know how I feel about that, but I’m willing to try it. It can’t hurt to remind yourself to be fully aware and in the present moment at times during a busy day, right?
  6. Don’t give up.  That’s the suggestion I kept finding. Keep trying and eventually you’ll get there. Sometimes it takes time and repetition to get our meditation practice to where we want it to be, where we’ll get the most benefit.

 

So, I will continue to work on my meditation practice, and try to stay awake.  I will continue to try various methods, mantras, times of day, and focus.  I will trust that eventually I will get there and be able to meditate and not fall asleep.  That is my intention and as we know, intention is the key to success.

 

Catherine King is a wife, mother, singer-songwriter, and holistic practitioner living on beautiful Cape Cod.  After being laid off from her job in higher education, Catherine used her down time to meditate, learn, and discover her life purpose.  The result was her business, True Path Wellness.  Catherine’s wish for everyone is to find their true path. 

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