Drifting during meditation

Question

I'm entering my 2nd year of practice. Lately in meditation I've been sinking into sleepy, semi-hallucinatory moments. I forget what I'm supposed to be doing & have to make a concerted effort to pull myself back into the moment. It's very insistent: I can be vigilant and focused but they still break through.

—Cris, New York City

Answer

Most of us go through periods where meditation brings up new challenges.

It’s helpful to try and nip these things in the bud before they become a bad habit. When the mind goes into semi-consciousness or starts drifting like that, there are a few things we can do.

One is to concentrate with deep will and attention at the point between the eyebrows. A couple of times I’ve done all night meditations with friends, and I found that approach very helpful for keeping the mind focused, even when it was tempted to go into a pre-sleep type of space.

Another technique is to stop and do some devotional chanting, or a few minutes of stretching. Any trick you can use to break that energy would be worth trying.