Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 17 - Was I Asleep in Meditation?
Date: Tue Nov 25, 2003 0:12pm
Q: I think I fell asleep during meditation, though I don’t think I lost consciousness. It seemed I was awake, but I had no sense of time or anything. Then I realized my head was on my chest and looked at my watch. Thirty minutes had gone by. I felt pretty groggy. I felt pretty unsteady and it didn’t feel right to just get up, so I lay down for a while. Then I was okay. Was I asleep?
A: No sensory experience, no mantra, no thoughts, but still conscious inside – were you asleep? Probably not. Meditation sometimes produces a sleep-like state, like you described, but the physiological parameters are different. The metabolism goes much lower than in sleep. Heart rate and breathing are much slower than in sleep, nearly stopped. The body and mind come to a state of complete silence, while still awake inside. The level of rest in the body and mind in meditation is deeper than sleep. It is a different kind of rest that removes impurities; obstructions to consciousness that sleep cannot reach. However, meditation is not a replacement for sleep, which has its own dynamics in the daily rejuvenation cycle.
People who have been meditating for years may have less need for sleep due to the accumulated purity in their nervous systems. It is not that meditation replaces sleep. It is that the body and mind gradually have become purified over time and the body needs less purification during its daily sleep cycle. It is the purity resulting from long-term meditation and other advanced yoga practices that generally reduces the need for sleep. In time, consciousness remains present twenty-four hours a day. Then, daily activities, dreaming, and deep sleep are all playing like a movie on the screen of our silent, blissful awareness. In this state we are never asleep anymore. This is the kind of freedom and happiness we all are capable of achieving naturally – our inalienable birthright.
You did just right by lying down at the end of your session until you were able to get up feeling clear and smooth. This is another circumstance where extra rest after meditation is needed. Much cleansing went on during the meditation. Many different kinds of experiences can happen during meditation, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. It is all part of the same process of easily thinking the mantra and letting it settle in. Then the purification happens. We let it happen. Then, when we become aware, we return to the mantra and let the mind dive again. This process, done twice daily for twenty minutes, will gradually transform your life to bliss.
Remember to count any experiences while off the mantra as part of your meditation time. It is okay that you became aware of the time again after thirty minutes. It was a natural event in your meditation. Whenever anything like that happens and you go past your allotted time, be sure to go through the appropriate rest period to finish the session. If you keep your meditation balanced with the right amount of rest at the end, you will always get up feeling refreshed and ready for activity.
The guru is in you.
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