Meditation is a technique that enables us to relax and experience the inner peace, which is deep within. However the relaxation and peace of meditation are very different to the relaxation we get from sleeping and having a nap. Meditation embodies a dynamic peace. When we enter into real meditation we feel very aware, alert and wake. This is not a restless dynamism but a feeling of being in harmony with the cosmic energy that effortlessly flows through us. However beginners to meditation sometimes experience difficulties in staying awake during meditation. There are various things that we can do to make sure we are fully awake during our meditation.
1. Don’t meditate after Eating. If we meditate after eating a heavy meal then the body will expend energy on digesting the food. This makes us lethargic; instinctively the body wants to sleep. It is advisable to leave a gap of at least 2 hours following a heavy meal. At the same time we want to make sure we are not pinched with hunger, otherwise we may start to contemplate on food rather than quietening the mind.
2. Try Meditating with eyes Open. When we close our eyes we are much more likely to fall asleep. If we keep our eyes open during meditation then it will be much easier to stay awake. Some beginners find it difficult to meditate with eyes open, as they get distracted. However it is best to meditate with our eyes half open. This means we let many things go out of focus. Part of us is looking out, but part of us is focused inwardly. This is known as the “lion’s meditation" It is worth persevering if it doesn’t seem natural to begin with.
3. Be regular in your Meditation times. One of the best times to meditate is early in the morning. Indian scriptures say the hour of God or the Brahma Muhurta is at 3-4am. However this is a little difficult for westerners, meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy advises 6am as being a good time for meditation. If we are unused to getting up at 6am in the morning it may be difficult to stay awake, because our body is used to sleeping. However if we continue getting up at the same time our body will become more accustomed to being awake and alert during our time of meditation.
4. Take a little exercise. Especially in the morning it is good to take some short exercises or stretches to get the blood circulating. This will help to awaken us and get us ready for meditation.
5. Take a shower before meditation. Water signifies consciousness and helps us to wake up and be alert. If we are feeling courageous we can take a cold shower, this will definitely improve blood circulation and wake us up!
6. Have a short nap. If you had a very busy day. The moment you sit down your body feels it is time to relax. If you start to meditate straight away you may find yourself fighting sleep. Many people find a short nap of 10-15mins can re-energise your body, making you ready for meditation.
7. Breathing exercises. If we consciously breathe in we can feel we are bringing into our system dynamic energy. This will help us meditate. Sri Chinmoy says on overcoming sleep in meditation that:
“The best thing is to breathe in deeply a few times before you meditate and make your whole body energetic. Your dynamic energy will help you enter into meditation. " (1)
Excerpt from Meditation: Part 2 by Sri Chinmoy.
Richard Pettinger became interested in meditation and eastern mysticism whilst studying philosophy and economics at University in Oxford. He became a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy and now offers meditation classes on behalf of the Sri Chinmoy Centre in Oxford. For more information on meditation see http://www.meditationworkshop.org/