Meditation and Insomnia

Question

I started meditation of concentrating on breath one month ago in afternoon for 45 mins max. Now I feel hypnic jerks whenever I try to sleep. My legs jerk automatically. Half my eyes open automatically when I try to sleep. Some ant crawling at the back sometimes. Do I need to stop meditation now. Or can I continue. I get into a kind of sleep paralysis state whenever i try to sleep. Please advise.

—Janani, India

Answer

Dear Friend,

I am very sorry to hear of these troubles. These are not typical of those who begin a regular meditation practice. If these symptoms were occurring while meditating it would be easier to correlate the symptoms with the meditation practice. But the fact that these symptoms don’t occur until sleep (hours later after meditating) suggests to me that there isn’t actually any cause-and-effect connection with meditation. Two suggestions come to mind:

1. Consult with a doctor who is knowledgeable about sleep issues.

2. Experiment with meditating only briefly, 5-15 minutes rather than 45 minutes for at least a week.

Ironically, practicing watching the breath while lying in bed can also be used as a way to relax and fall asleep, but in your case it could complicate your situation. This is another reason why it would seem unlikely that your meditation is the cause of your symptoms.

During your 45 minutes of meditation is your breathing calm and even? Is there any anxiety or quick breathing, uncontrolled thoughts or any other form of nervousness? Do you ever go beyond thinking and experience quietness of mind, body, and emotions? If your meditation is not bringing you calmness and clarity, then I think you need some assistance in meditation. Either contact us through our website in India (AnandaIndia.org) or download the Ananda Meditation App. Okay?

Blessings of joy and calmness be upon you!
Nayaswami Hriman