The Snoring Meditator
Remember that time when you tried meditating and had everything perfect, you set aside 10 minutes of quite time in a comfy chair and closed your eyes. However, 2 minutes into your meditation you start to snore and fall asleep. Falling asleep while meditating happens frequently, and can be discouraging if you want to start a meditation practice. Have you ever started snoozing during your meditation practice? I sometimes doze off and start snoring, only to find myself in the middle of an unintentional nap.
Meditation is a great way to relax, but meditation is also aimed to improve our focus and awareness. While we meditate it might seem from the outside that we are sleeping or just relaxing, but that is far from the truth. While we meditate we are actively engaged and aware of our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. In order to get the most out of your meditation practice, try to not fall asleep during your session. If you feel drowsy while you meditate here are some great ways to help you stop being that snoring meditator.
5 Tips to stop you from falling asleep while you meditate
1. Go to sleep!
It might sound obvious but getting a good night’s sleep will help you if you are sleep deprived. Meditation is a chance for us to rest and relax. While we meditate we are in a parasympathetic state and our breathing rate is lowered. We become relaxed as our muscles release tension and our mind settles. This has a tendency to make us sleepy. If our body has been lacking sleep lately it will naturally want to fall asleep to restore its health. When we are putting in very long days we might not even realize that we are sleep deprived. So the next time you fall asleep during meditation embrace it, and let yourself take a nap. You will feel refreshed and more productive throughout your day. Try to get more sleep during the night and that should prevent you from falling asleep while you meditate.
2. You might be meditating on something too comfy
If falling asleep is too common for you, it might be the chair that you are mediating on is too soft and relaxing. Meditating on a comfy Tempur-Pedic mattress is definitely going to make you fall asleep. That is what the mattress was designed to do! When you are sitting on something soft and relaxing you use your muscles less to help stabilize your body. You actively have to make an effort when you sit on the floor to not fall over and sleep. If you meditate while sitting on the floor you will most likely catch yourself as your head comes forward when you start dozing off. Your posture can also induce sleep while you meditate. Change your posture and try sitting up straight or even standing. The more effort that you need to keep your body in that posture the less likely you will fall asleep. Try standing up straight while you meditate. To perform a standing meditation all you need to do is close your eyes and let your arms rest on your sides. Let your heels sink into the ground and relax your breath. When you are standing your body has to make an effort to keep itself up. If you can sleep while standing let me know, that is wild!
3. Practice active forms of meditation
Try active forms of meditation such as Qi gong, yoga, Pilates, running, or walking meditation. You can turn most activities into meditation by being present and by bringing awareness to the situation. Mindfulness is a great form of meditation that you can practice while doing any daily activity or chore. Walking meditation is an active form of meditation that connects your mind and body through movement. Try walking at a slower pace and be mindful of each step you take. Witness how your body weight shifts when you lift your leg and feel how the ground supports your foot. While you walk you want to be aware of all the sensations and changes that occur in your body. When you perform active forms of meditation you likely won’t fall asleep because you are physically moving.
4. Meditate during times when you are most active
Meditating just after you wake up or before you go to sleep can cause you to fall asleep. This is because these are natural times when your body wants to fall asleep. These sleep wake cycles are dictated by circadian rhythms. Try and meditate in the middle of the day or just after you exercised. For example, meditating on your lunch break during a hectic day at work is a great option. When you meditate in the middle of your work day you will have high energy levels so you wont fall asleep during meditation. It will also help you relax and reduce the stress from your day. You probably also won’t go to sleep because you don’t want your boss to find you snoozing on the job. When your energy levels are up you will less likely fall asleep during meditation.
5. Try breathing exercise to stimulate your body
You can practice pranayama or belly breathing to help invigorate you and wake you up before you meditate. You can also use this technique as your meditation in itself. In order to practice belly breathing you will place your hands on your stomach. Then as you inhale expand your stomach and feel your hands move. You should be using your diaphragm to expand your lungs as you take in the air. As you exhale, suck your stomach in as your diaphragm pushes the air out of your lungs. Try this breathing cycle slowly for 5 repetitions. Notice when you belly breathe that you take more full and deep breathes. If you feel comfortable try to increase your breathing rate. Focusing on your breath actively will prevent you from falling asleep. Rapid belly breathing has been shown to improve the oxygenation of the blood which increases the energy levels in your body. Try belly breathing and you will feel refreshed and energized.
The best advice is to get some rest because your body your most likely sleep deprived. Try and not fight against your feeling of tiredness. Meditation is a great method in itself to help you rest and relax. So embrace it, sleep if you need to and do not try to force yourself too much to stay awake while you meditate. Once your body is no longer sleep deprived you will start to be more be alert and aware while you meditate. If you really want to not fall asleep while you meditate try one of the above practices. If they work for you then that is great! If you are still finding trouble contact me and I would be happy to help. I hope these tips help you to be alert and mindful during your next meditation practice. Remember there is no harm if meditation allows you to catch some Zs.