Perhaps one of the most common obstacles people encounter whilst meditating are feelings of tiredness and falling asleep. You might have even started to see images flashing past your vision and thought you were having some supernatural epiphany! This is just you beginning to fall into a slight dream state.
Don’t worry, it’s completely normal even for experienced meditators to feel tired whilst meditating. Let’s look at the two main reasons why you might be getting distracted by tiredness.
Meditation has a calming effect on the body.
Simply put, when we meditate our body relaxes and this in turn can lead to us falling asleep. Seems simple enough, but to avoid this we also need to consider the other reason we tend to feel tired during meditation.
We feel tired because we are tired.
Meditation lets us see our bodies the way they are. Perhaps you have been so busy lately that when you finally sit down and take some time for yourself you realise just how tired your body actually is. In a way it just goes to show how much you needed that time to meditate.
Again, these tired feelings are completely normal and don’t mean you’re ‘doing it wrong’ or anything like that! They’re just a clue to how the body and mind are really feeling. With that said, tiredness can be distracting and can interfere with our focus during meditation so here’s a few ideas that can help.
1 – Practise makes perfect
Whilst anyone can be distracted by tiredness during meditation, those more experienced have better control of their focus and are less likely to be distracted compared to a beginner. It’s just a case of practise makes perfect.
2 – Realise that tiredness is just another distraction for you to acknowledge
One of the greatest purposes of living mindfully is to watch your mind and body, acknowledge any emotions that arise and then bring the mind back to the present moment. When you notice sleepiness arising during meditation, simply acknowledge it and then bring your focus back to the meditation. You may notice that the tiredness continues to return from that point but don’t worry about it. Each time you notice yourself being distracted by sleepiness just gently bring your attention back.
3 – Meditate earlier in the day, preferably as soon as you get up in the morning
This was one of the biggest helps for me. By meditating when you first wake up the body will be less tired than at the end of the day which will allow you to focus more. I’ve found it best to get up, have a big glass of water and maybe even some food and then do your meditation exercise. If nothing else it’s a great way to start your day and sets you up for being more mindful the rest of the day!
4 – Meditate in a nice, bright, cool room
If your room is dark and warm, then it is like the kind of room in which you might be used to falling asleep. The mind makes this connection and then when you close your eyes you are more likely to feel sleepy. Once you have set your room up you can even take it a step further by practising some visualisation! Imagine that the room you are meditating in is actually somewhere bright and welcoming outdoors like a mountain or somewhere sunny.
5 – Check your posture
Some people like to meditate lying down. If you do and find yourself feeling tired, try sitting upright instead. Find a sturdy chair or sit on the floor, keep your back nice and straight and this should help. Again, if the conditions are like those you might normally fall asleep in then you are more likely to feel tired.
Hopefully these tips should help you overcome the obstacle of tiredness whilst meditating! Feel free to like Together Mindful on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or join our email list for more on mindfulness.