Vol-7  Ask Frank, How can I stay awake…

Q. I have been getting up very early for work. I prefer to meditate in the morning. Historically I have meditated best while lying down and listening to binaural beats via headphones. The problem is that I am falling asleep too easily and missing out on my meditation even when I have gotten decent sleep. Obvious answer might be to meditate while sitting up, do you have any other suggestions?


This is a common problem. I am a morning meditator but over the years I have changed my routine multiple times to comply with my sleep schedule and daily activity needs. I meditate between 1 and 3 hours a day, not always all at once sometimes over two meditations so I have tried many scheduling ideas. 

My first suggestion is going to bed earlier and get up an hour earlier. My second suggestion is that you sit up in bed as you suggested in your question, be sure your spine is erect, shoulders straight and your weight is centered over your hips. You can effectively meditate at night even though you are a morning person.

I am a fan of binaural beat music for new meditators, but I encourage my students to move away from it once they have the basic skills down. Even if you rely on it try a few session without using it, this may be having an impact and moving you toward sleep.  

I also get up in the middle of the night and meditate in a different area, not in bed. I meditate between the first sleep cycle of dream sleep and the second cycle of deep sleep. This is normally around 1-2 AM. Not everyone can adjust to dividing their sleep cycle into two parts but until the light bulb this was a common practice around the world and seems to be more in concert with our natural rhythms. I have subsequently talked to others who have had success with this technique between sleep cycles.  

Whatever time you choose to mediate you might consider a strong cup of coffee just before starting. I have found through my own practice and others I have worked with, that our practice techniques naturally evolve is some ways as we become more advanced. Good luck change is always a challenge, we are creatures of habit.

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