Recently a student mentioned that they were falling asleep during their afternoon/evening meditation sessions. I understood completely as it happens to me as well.
Sleepiness is one of the most common “foes”that we encounter during meditation.
Note~ I learned from a meditation teacher that whenever the ego feels threatened “it” meets the truth with resistance. Let that sink in a bit.
A rule of thumb for the meditator is that 99 percent of the resistance experienced in meditation is the ego’s attempts to derail the process of entering a higher level of consciousness (or more spacious reality).
These attempts have been called “foes” in Buddhist traditions.
“Foes” can appear as pain in our bodies, boredom, sleepiness, restlessness, judgment, doubt, anger, fear. They can be very persuasive! We can even experience a “foe” as profound as the fear of peace itself. Wow.
When the foes of meditation arise in our practice we might want to remember what Albert Einstein said. “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”
This is a great teaching tool for me to remember because it means that the problems created by my ego and my resistance to things I don’t like cannot be changed by the same worn out strategies I have been habitually using!
When the foes of meditation arrive or arise in my meditation practice (boredom, restlessness, judgment, pain in my body, sleepiness, doubt, fear, anger) I need to remember to meet them with a different consciousness (way of thinking).
Meditation is a tool to help us cultivate this ability.
Why do I need to remember this and practice cultivating my meditation practice?
Well, I’ve learned that if I meet pain with struggle my pain persists and grows. If I meet restlessness with moving around or motion, restlessness ends up returning. If I meet doubt with an argument or debate, I also just end up getting more doubting thoughts! If I meet anger with more anger~my anger just multiplies.
So, what do I do when foes rise up in my meditation practice (same question what do I do when foes rise up in my waking state throughout my day)?
I practice not attacking back. I practice recognizing my ego and then dropping back to becoming the “witness.” I practice just observing, noticing what is arising within me. I become aware of my ego’s attempts to derail me. “I” get out of the way (sometimes). “I” allow for a higher state of consciousness to emerge.
Many times with just this allowing to unfold (this pattern interrupt) my so called problems find solutions and who I AM remains in peace and I get to touch that space.
Finding this space, this level of consciousness, has been transformational for me. I give all the credit to my daily meditation practice and my willingness to just show up in this moment.
(My husband captured this picture during our recent pilgrimage to Israel ~ I stopped to meditate while walking Jesus’s last steps to Calvary. davidji said out loud something like this is the exact spot where Jesus saw his mother on the way to his death, carrying his cross, unimaginable suffering and yet said to his mother, I got this ~ I AM ok. I had to take a moment, a pattern interrupt to get my small self out of the way and to allow the veil of my mind to drop and my heart to enter this moment more fully)🙏