Alice enjoys meditating in the evenings, but is often beset by sleepiness. This is one of the most common challenges of meditation, often called a hindrance in Buddhist teaching.
Here are 5 tips on how to deal with drowsiness during your meditation practice:
1) Sit up straight, so that your back is not supported by the chair.
2) Don’t shut your eyes completely, let your eyes rest on a stationary object, your gaze slightly downwards, your focus soft.
3) Meditate at a time you are not naturally feeling sleepy: in the morning or at lunchtime or during your commute home, if you ride public transport and can sit down. The 2-3 pm post-prandial dip can be a challenging time to meditate without sleepiness; also, meditating late in the day when your body is preparing for your big slumber can be tough. Try different times of day and see what works for you.
4) Meditate by an open window so you have a gentle breeze invigorating your practice.
5) If despite trying all of the above in different combinations you still find yourself nodding off during meditation, that is an important message from your body. Your time will be better spent taking a little nap than by valiantly trying to meditate through exhaustion. To paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh, the purpose of listening to suffering is to alleviate it, meaning that if you’re so tired your meditation becomes suffering, offer yourself kindness and gentleness and go to sleep instead.