Feeling Sleepy During Meditation

Question

Many a time I feel sleepy while meditating and I become irritated for that. How can I keep wide awake while meditating

—Manash Roy, INDIA

Answer

Dear Manash,

Feeling sleepy during meditation is a common problem. It doesn’t seem to be affected by how much or little sleep you had last night. There are many practices which people have found helpful, and I will share some of them with you here.

1. If you are in a place where it won’t disturb anyone else, you can raise your arms over your head with palms touching. Bring your hands up and down a few times while breathing deeply. Even better, stand and do this.

2. From Swami Kriyananda’s book, The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, practice Kapalabhati Pranayama: Draw the diaphragm inward sharply, forcing the air out through the nostrils in quick thrusts.

Let the inhalation take place automatically; all of your effort should be spent in the exhalation. Each respiration should take about one second to perform. Practice up to 12 to 24 times.

3. When you are sleepy, your eyes are usually looking downwards, as they are in sleep. Using your will, focus your gaze (with eyes closed) at the point between the eyebrows, mentally looking out about arms length from the forehead.

Feel that you are drawing your energy up into the brain.

Again, breathe deeply. This is a good practice in meditation at any time, and will help you reach higher states of awareness. You can practice it as long as you like.

In addition, the practice of Yogananda’s Energization Exercises prior to sitting can be invaluable.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Many blessings on your spiritual search.

Joy to you,
Nayaswami Sadhana Devi