Going in and out of Consciousness During Meditation

Question

I have been practicing meditation for 5 years. I have noticed over the last month that I’m going out of conscious. I have been completely relaxed and sometimes I see something I can't remember. Sometimes I just come back to consciousness without any notice. I can’t control it. It feels like I’m refreshed and reborn after I’m back to my normal consciousness. What kind of state am I going through?

—Hariprasath, India

Answer

Dear Hariprasath,

Dhyana, or true meditation, is a state of higher awareness during which we feel more alive and more aware than we can ever be during ordinary, waking consciousness. While in such states we might lose touch with time or the body or our surroundings; we never lose consciousness as such.

When in such cases we return to ordinary consciousness there’s never a sense that we don’t know where our consciousness was or we can’t remember what happened. By contrast, it is possible to fall into a subconscious state or even a trance state of seeming complete unconscious awareness. During these lower states, we don’t have any true spiritual experience though we might feel deeply relaxed and refreshed. Falling into such sleep-like states is a hazard and a challenge for many meditators. It is a habit you seriously want to avoid.

As you begin meditation and go through your practice, keep your eyes upraised, gazing through the point between the eyebrows. This will help keep you aware. When we drop into conscious or sub-conscious states the eyes ALWAYS drop from their upward gazing position. Thus, remaining in contact and awareness of your eyes upraised will not only be important for meditation but will help you very much with avoiding falling into lower states, pleasant though they may be. (There are some dangers too associated with these trance-like states but for now, my sense is that you just need to work on staying focused and self-aware during meditation.)

If you feel sleepiness coming over you, open your eyes and then squeeze them shut and open repeatedly. If necessary stand and stretch. Be sure that before meditation you have had sufficient “hydration” (water drinking) and I recommend some yoga stretches before sitting. Paramhansa Yogananda taught a series of movements with tension and relaxation (“tension” or Energization Exercises) that are excellent preparations for meditation.

Lastly, sometimes these falling asleep type experiences are a passing phase in our lives of meditation. But no matter the cause or circumstances, this habit is one you want to avoid and end as soon as possible. OK?

Blessings and Light!
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA
www.Hrimananda.org