It happens to the best of us: an impromptu snooze in the middle of our meditation, only to wake up to the clanging of a bell or the clamor of someone in the next room. So, what can we do to prevent this, especially since meditation is about "falling awake?!"
We don't have to fight against sleep from happening; if it comes, it comes. But here are a few ideas on creating the proper conditions to prevent an unwanted power nap.
1. VARY THE TIME
Choose a time to meditate when you feel you will be the most awake. If you're not a morning person, then probably avoid doing it then. Right after lunch can be a hard time too. You may also consider meditating in relation to another activity to support wakefulness. For example, trying meditating after working out, after taking a cold shower, or even after having a cup of coffee.
2. (DON'T) GET (TOO) COMFORTABLE
If you fall asleep during meditation, it's probably a sign you are tired. Listen to your body, then move accordingly from what it is telling you. Unfortunafommon Toaist practice. The most important thing is that you're establishing a posture of wakefulness and alertnessf.
3. OPEN YOUR EYES
Try meditating with your eyes open...Or at least slightly open. With this method, you can leave your eyes open or half-open. Your gaze should be cast softly downward anywhere between 1-10 feet in front of you, depending on what feels comfortable and natural for you. This technique can take some getting used to, but it can provide you with a fulfilling expansiveness to your practice. And, really, just allowing some light into your eyes will make it more difficult to slip into sleep.
4. SLEEP MORE TO SLEEP LESS
If you fall asleep during meditation, it could be a sign you're just not getting enough sleep. So, instead of sitting meditation, we could heed the advice of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama: "Sleep is the best meditation."
5. STICK WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS
Sleepiness is like any other experience in that it come and it goes...it comes and it goes...and it changes. Next time you're feeling dreary or "hazy" or slothful, the mindfulness instructions remain the same: observe the experience (thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations) with open curiosity. And if this creates a straight line to nap time, so be it! But if we pay attention closely enough, we may find that under the "umbrella feeling" of sleepiness, there are still gradations of it to be experienced; there may still be blips of clarity and spaciousness, ebbs and flows. The mind is powerful beyond measure. It may just need a micro-moment of "non-sleepiness" to...wake up!
Lastly, don't beat yourself up about it. If sleep comes, then it comes. Meditation is about familiarization with yourself and your experience. The tendency to fall asleep during meditation is informative. Notice what it might be telling you, then move skillfully toward whatever action is called for, whether that's something mentioned above or something you've come up with on your own.