Dear Jennifer: I try so hard to meditate and whenever I do, I fall into a very deep asleep. I want to make this part of my spiritual journey and I am trying to discipline myself to meditate every day but no matter when I do it, a few minutes after I start I can’t keep my eyes open. Then, when I wake up, sometimes an hour or more later, I feel bad because I’m not able to do this spiritual practice that I feel should be part of my daily life. Does anyone else experience this?
Jennifer’s Answer: This is a very common issue that many experience, especially when they begin a meditation practice. We have trained our minds to be traveling at full speed unless we are asleep, so when you quiet your mind, you automatically fall asleep. With practice and by not trying to do long meditation sessions, you should be able to stay awake during your meditation practice. Try doing shorter sessions and maybe space them out during the day to see what time is best for your body. Or you may have to find a kind of meditative practice that works for you. But that is just one of several issues with receiving information that may be contributing to your sleepiness.
If you have begun to meditate in response to an inner call or urging, or have asked for help in some aspect of your life, then you are receiving information that you need right away and the best way to accomplish this level of download is to close down your conscious mind entirely. That’s why you fall asleep. It is also possible that you have not been paying attention to your guidance or support systems, or your intuition, so as soon as you do, your conscious mind is taken out of the picture so as much information as possible can be downloaded. Being tired, stressed or worried will also make you fall asleep when you meditate because you’re overloaded and you need the rest.
It is also possible that a seated, quiet and still meditation practice is not right for you. If the process makes you uncomfortable, after trying a few things like doing shorter sessions or trying them at different times of the day, or you just can’t stay awake, then you should consider another type of meditation practice. And, if you want more interaction with the information you receive, try a more active meditation process, which is what I do, where you are moving or performing activities that do not require your full attention (my favorite ones are cleaning house, doing the dishes, gardening or walking). With this type of meditative practice, your mind is gently distracted and you can focus on a question, an issue, an intention or simply state that you are open to receiving information about a specific issue or topic. This way you can still quiet your mind and listen, but you are not falling asleep. I find this type of meditation to be very effective in receiving insights and information that I am consciously aware of and can remember later.
Above all, don’t feel like you are doing this wrong or that others can do it and you cannot. This is a very personal practice and you will have to find what works for you and fits your needs. If you pressure yourself into following a meditation method that is frustrating and challenging, it will not be effective for you. There is no standard for this, it is a process by which you connect with your inner guidance, so explore some options and find what works for you. Once you do, it can be part of your daily practice; for example, an early morning walk in nature, at sunrise, in which you make your inner connection while enjoying the beauty of nature may be a wonderful meditative practice for you. And since you are getting physical exercise as well as meditating, you are doing two things at once which, I believe, would also help you feel that you were making the best and most efficient use of your time.
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