Author Topic: Awakening (and sleep)  (Read 897 times)

Dharmic Tui

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Awakening (and sleep)
« on: February 19, 2017, 08:13:44 AM »
Hi All,

Just wondering if anyone else here has noticed many changes around their sleep after practising Vipassana. Over the last few years, I've had the odd moment where I have woken at night and felt an intense level of clarity in my consciousness, as if I have not only woken from a sleep, but also from a dream state.

Also over time, I've noticed the changes in my consciousness as I fall asleep. It'll come and go in waves which feels in my body as if I am falling, albeit for a split second.

Transferring over into practice, when I am transferring from my regular, wandering mind, into a state of conscious awareness, I get a similar sensation of falling, although not as strong as when I am nodding off to sleep - i.e. my mind and body get very relaxed, and it's almost as if I'm going to sleep (but I am clearly not), and when I "wake" myself by letting go of the stream of thinking, I wake into an extreme level of presence.

Does this resonate with anyone else? It leads me to believe that there's not a huge difference between our wandering mind when sleeping or awake. In our sleep, our stream of consciousness dreams of the fantastical, and while awake we're still subjected to that stream, albeit with more inputs.

Apologies if that's a bit of a waffle, but it's an interesting pattern I've been picking up on more lately.

Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2017, 11:08:39 AM »
Sleep is the process where the mind enters source consciousness.  Dream is a test. Usually it tests ur strength in precepts. If you pass you enter source consciousness fully aware and the experience is miraculous!!!!

Middleway

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2017, 01:52:44 PM »
I suggest you read the book "Mahamudra - The Moonlight - Quintessence of Mind and Mediation". Here is an excerpt from the book that may relate to what you are experiencing.

Quote
"Similarly, the meditator extends the complete daily meditation into the night. While getting ready for his nightly rest, he should revive, at first with requisite effort, the quiescent state that he attained during the day’s virtuous practice. Were he able to elevate his conciousness to the contemplative state during his sleep and dream, this would be the perfect practice for him. This happens only to a few meditators at this stage. Ordinarily, as they lose the active consciousness during sleep, they may still cognize dream as a delusion so that, when they wake up, they may well be aware of the abiding nature of the dream. Even this kind of practice is considered to fall under the designation of all encompassing meditation.

Je Gampopa comments in his Shülen [Answers to Questions]:

[Question:] When mindfulness is absent, the mind’s essential nature is not cognized. When, however, mindfulness has its focus on a certain ordinary thought, does this mean that the previous thoughts become pacified? Is it necessary for mindfulness to perceive all emerging and fading thoughts or appearances?

[Answer:] Once mindfulness focuses on hitherto uncognized ordinary thoughts, these thoughts will pacify themselves. It is not necessary for mindfulness to maintain all emerging and fading thoughts. However, if the meditator can maintain an undistracted mindfulness, it will help him achieve the blending of absorption and postabsorption. Even if the mindfulness is not focused on all thoughts, they will neither harm nor cloud his mind nor even impede his practice. Luminous awareness is inherent in his sleep and dream. Once awake, the meditator retrospects that which passed unattended by his mindfulness, but realizes that it was not different from the luminous awareness itself. This is the uninterrupted stream [of meditation]."
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Meditative

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2017, 10:15:09 PM »
I'm not exactly sure what it is you are describing, but I wake up in sleep paralysis nearly every night. I don't have intense levels of clarity like you say, but the quality of consciousness is definitely different than waking consciousness. I seem to have much more control over my thoughts and attention in this state. Thoughts and emotions also seem to manifest forms instantly in this state. For example one time during sleep paralysis I subconsciously felt fear and was looking for a presence in my room due to reading a bunch of articles and blogs online that describe spiritual experiences in this state.

It's these two things that manifested a presence that started touching my back as I was in the sleep paralysis state which was a bit unsettling because I didn't understand what was happening. It felt so real. I attempt to astral project in this state every time and have come close a few times, but it is very difficult to fully let go and the sleep paralysis window is very small.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 10:30:38 PM by Meditative »

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2017, 09:54:05 AM »
An update to this thread.

I've noticed in my meditation practice getting more and more relaxed, in a state of almost no stress or tension. However, this can have me falling asleep, I'm presuming a consequence of being so relaxed. However, if I remain mindful, I can keep awake, and feel even more blissful. What is interesting to note, is the falling/sleepy sensation occurs only on the out breath, a sensation that feels like you're on the cusp of nodding off.

Perhaps as a theory the mind leans towards sleep when it is free of thinking and external stimuli. I'd be interested if anyone else can relate to this.

stillpointdancer

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2017, 10:56:09 AM »
An update to this thread.

I've noticed in my meditation practice getting more and more relaxed, in a state of almost no stress or tension. However, this can have me falling asleep, I'm presuming a consequence of being so relaxed. However, if I remain mindful, I can keep awake, and feel even more blissful. What is interesting to note, is the falling/sleepy sensation occurs only on the out breath, a sensation that feels like you're on the cusp of nodding off.

Perhaps as a theory the mind leans towards sleep when it is free of thinking and external stimuli. I'd be interested if anyone else can relate to this.
Whenever I need help falling asleep at night I just go through the first stage of mindfulness of breathing. Usually asleep within a few minutes, whereas if I was seated for meditation it would take twenty minutes or so just to get 'into' the meditation, perfectly awake. The out breath is more relaxing during meditation, maybe because I usually concentrate on the in breath more. This isn't the case if I'm breathing out metta during a metta meditation.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Matthew

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2017, 05:44:35 PM »
The outbreath is all about letting go. Trungpa used to say "focus on the outbreath, the inbreath will surely take care of itself!"

I have also experienced times, in my opinion, when calming is not balanced with "willing awareness"/mindfulness ... it is at these times sleepiness has taken over. It would seem this chimes with your experience:

Quote
However, if I remain mindful, I can keep awake, and feel even more blissful.

Glad to say I never actually fell asleep on the cushion, unlike one teacher leading a retreat who woke himself up in the after-lunch sitting only when his head hit the wooden floor of the shrine room ..
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Frightful

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2017, 06:18:41 PM »
when calming is not balanced with "willing awareness"/mindfulness ... it is at these times sleepiness has taken over.

Matthew, could you please either point me to some description of "willing awareness" or provide a follow-up to this as sleepiness is also one of my own unpredictable issues during meditation.  As a possible note of interest, I became aware in recent years that sleepiness is also a psychologically 'defensive' mechanism that overcomes me when in the middle of a heated confrontation with my wife.  As you can imagine, retreating within, closing my eyes and yawning when she is bristling with anger over a point she wishes to get across does not exactly foster a better dialog. :-X  From there, I began to wonder if my sleepiness as I segue into a meditation wasn't due to a subconscious detection of unpleasant feelings/issues beginning to well-up during the session. So cultivating this willing awareness that you describe would be of interest to me.  Thanks!

Matthew

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2017, 09:01:00 PM »
when calming is not balanced with "willing awareness"/mindfulness ... it is at these times sleepiness has taken over.

Matthew, could you please either point me to some description of "willing awareness" or provide a follow-up to this ...

Hi frightful,

I was cludging together English words to try and get meaning across ... perhaps not very successfully :) .. Mindfulness is synonymous with remembering - it is remembering to stay aware of the object of meditation. Hence my cludged term of "willing awareness", the "willing" part relates to remembering/being mindful of the fact one is practicing on an object of awareness.

... as sleepiness is also one of my own unpredictable issues during meditation.  As a possible note of interest, I became aware in recent years that sleepiness is also a psychologically 'defensive' mechanism that overcomes me when in the middle of a heated confrontation with my wife.  ...

Yeah, I can see how well that must be working out for you  ??? There are a few "variations on a theme" that kind of come down to the same factors that I've identified as being at root:

Sleepiness can result from a lack of mindfulness: attention/awareness then wanders into the open space and you just drift away. (An example of failure stage 1 "mindfulness brought to the fore").

Sleepiness can result from entering towards bliss states and a resulting shallowness of the breath. This in my experience is when the attention/awareness has not been "locked on" to the target/object of meditation. As one relaxes the posture slips a bit and the diaphragm breathes in a more shallow way resulting in a tendency to sleep. (An example of failure stage 2: not maintaining "mindfulness brought to the fore").

Sleepiness can result simply from poor posture.

Sleepiness can result from meditation being too "loose". I practice eyes open and relaxed looking at the floor about 1-2M ahead of me. If the meditation gets too "tight" or hot/concentrated/forced then I lift my gaze up, even toward the horizon. If the meditation gets too "loose" then I bring my gaze nearer to me on the floor to increase concentration and maintain mindfulness (An example of failure stage 1 "mindfulness brought to the fore").

I hope that helps.

Matthew

(sorry if this is a minor derailing DT .. we'll take it to another thread if needs be.)
« Last Edit: April 27, 2017, 09:03:25 PM by Matthew »
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Frightful

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2017, 07:49:15 PM »
Thanks, Matthew....this gives me a point of reference for corrections when I feel the sleepiness occurring in future meditation sessions.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Awakening (and sleep)
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2017, 07:32:04 AM »
No worries about the derail, thanks for the insight about your practice.