Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Do You Nod Off When You Meditate?

Do you gleefully register for meditation workshops, show up on time, take notes in a pretty new notebook, and then PROMPTLY FALL ASLEEP when that all-important guided meditation begins?

Please have no shame! Others are snoring beside you.

In the last year, I’ve been to two workshops where sleepy people had the courage to raise their hands during the workshop’s Q&A segment to tearfully confess, “I completely zoned out. I totally missed it. What is wrong with me?”


On both occasions, the meditation teachers said the same thing, “Look, you may have been exhausted, in which case, the nap did you good. But chances are greater that even if you don’t recall what I said, the material went in, and something meaningful will transpire from the work.”

Why is staying awake so tough? We’re all sleep deprived, for one thing. And we’re all under stress. Take the stress away, and sleep seems the most obvious state to reside in.

I’ve found that if I avoid eating carbohydrates before any workshop, I’ll do better in the med. “Do not eat that cookie after lunch!” QiGong teacher Roger Jahnke wisely admonished an audience I was in once.


A cup of tea before the workshop might help you stay awake. And repeating to yourself: “I will not sleep through this one,” could help. Or, more positively, you could say: “It is my intention to fully experience whatever this teacher is offering me.”

When your meditation instructor says, “Get into a comfortable position,” don’t get too comfortable. You’re doomed if you stretch out on the floor! You can also keep your eyes open if you wish. Or you can stand up, and quietly walk to the nearest wall to meditate standing up if you feel you may soon greet Winken, Blinken, and Nod.


By all means, don’t let sleep make you think you’re flunking Meditation 101. Switch methods, if you must, and consider walking meditations until you get the hang of it. I don’t think it’s possible to sleep while you’re walking, is it?

Tell us: When’s the last time sleep tried to steal your enlightenment? How do you stay aware and awake?


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posted October 24, 2006 at 7:00 am

I use a wonderful Planetary Meditation for Peace CD with PMP International and Grand Master Choa Kok Sui. I do it my way, not following the exercises before and after the meditation. I figure if I can get myself to lie down and stop my incessant refusal to stop my thoughts and finally get out of my head and into my body, I’ve come a long way. And if I happen to fall asleep for a short nap, I am overjoyed. There’s not one way to stop one’s thoughts and this way has helped me. His voice is very relaxing.

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posted October 24, 2006 at 6:09 pm

I’ve tried a few different things. When I give myself permission to fall asleep, I typically relax deeply into the med and rarely nod off. This freedom to experience what I will shifts my focus from fear (of nodding off) to going deep. I don’t eat refined or starchy carbs before a session, but may have fresh fruit if I’m running low. Helps boost my blood sugar, but without added drowsiness. I also use guided meds on CD and DVD. And since I start each meditation with surrender, once I let go, the power of spirit has the wheel.

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posted October 24, 2006 at 10:16 pm

when I first started I would fall asleep ,I say practice, pratice..and pratice, try candles, try guided CD’s, try just nature sounds, you will find what works best for you. I would get frustrated in guided meditations, I wouldn’t see what I thought EVERYONE was seeing, then was told just as in life we are all different. I just saw colors, and that I’m not TRYING to see.That I actually can meditate and enjoy the peacefulness of it all.

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posted October 25, 2006 at 7:02 pm

i like to nod off at work, then tell ppl i was meditating

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Garnet David

posted October 25, 2006 at 7:08 pm

I meditate with my eyes open, not so much to stay awake, but to help stay in the present. Pema Chodron teaches this way.I also take walks in the park and focus on breathing. It helps me to move. While it may not be as centered as sitting, I can rebalance my mind as well as my blody. (I like brian’s comment above!)

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posted October 28, 2006 at 6:48 am

Amy, I love all the comments about meditating. Let’s have more talk. Maybe I will do a good post on the subject over at my blog. Who is Brian…very amusing!

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posted October 30, 2006 at 1:44 pm

Try as I might upon meditating, I just can’t seem to shut off the incessant chattering that goes on inside my head. I can also never find a truly quiet moment in my house. I find the best way to listen to my “inner voice” is just when I’m laying down to sleep or when I first wake up in the morning. I still haven’t given up on the meditating though. Sometimes, I find snipets of time throughout my day to just zone out as well. Peace everyone!

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Stacey-Robin H. Johnson

posted November 1, 2006 at 3:01 pm

I find creating my own visualization works best. For example when I’m cleansing my field of energy via sea salt/kosher salt warm bath, I will visualize wading in golden pool of perfectly warm water. Letting my mind go blank is a sure bet for falling into a snooze!!! Since there are not accidents, I believe that even quietyly dozing has a restorative enlightening effect as our spirits learn and travel.

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