how not to fall asleep during mindfulness practices
Why Not Sleep?
The practice of systematic relaxation is a time for quiet observation of the body. In practical terms, this consists of bringing our awareness to different parts of the body in an established sequence. It’s a bit like shining a flashlight around a dark room and taking an inventory of what is there. The more we shine the light of awareness around, the more familiar we become with our bodily furniture and its arrangement. Giving attention to each part of the body brings our awareness to habitual patterns of muscle tension and highlights areas that might need a little extra attention during asana practice.
There is so much in our room (the body) that we can easily overlook something. That is one reason a system is essential to the experience. Having a set sequence to follow ensures that we don’t miss any part. Following the same sequence every time creates a pattern for the mind to follow. With repetition, this pattern becomes ingrained in the mind. And when this happens, you can devote less of your mental energy to remembering the sequence and are free to concentrate fully on more subtle aspects of the self.
Systematic relaxation refreshes the body and mind, but it has more important implications for yoga practice. It is a deceptively simple process, but diligent practice can open the door to a rich interior landscape. When done after asana practice, it helps the body integrate the subtle changes induced by the postures and reinforces those changes on a deeper level. As a method of drawing attention inward (pratyahara), it helps the transition into formal meditation practice. And perhaps most important, it encourages a relaxed, observant state of mind in daily life.
None of these things happen, however, when we are sleeping. The benefits of systematic relaxation come from the attention we bring to the practice itself. If that isn’t enough to keep you awake during relaxation practices, consider the effect your nap might have on those around you in a class: it’s really hard to concentrate on a subtle experience of the self when the person next to you is engaged in some not-so-subtle snoring.
adapted from Yoga International, January/February 2006
Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga & Meditation Timer, as well as a gentle Alarm Clock. It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.
Timers and Clocks with Chime in Bamboo, Walnut, Maple, and Black Lacquer
Now & Zen’s Yoga Timer Store
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Posted in Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, mindfulness practice