Sleep, meditation and life management

Front Page Forums Meditation Sleep, meditation and life management

This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  moln1 7 years ago.

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    Hi again,
    I am still working on finding my way back to enjoying the practice, and have benefitted immensely from replies on this forum. You are so generous, all of you!

    Anyways, I listened to a recording from a retreat where Culadasa mentions that the ones who progress rapidly tend to have practices where they sit an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. I have been so glad that I, with all the circumstances surrounding me family- and work-wise, have been able to sit 45-60 minuets a day.

    The only thing I could reduce is sleep to gain more time, but there is of course a balancing between needs and health. I believe I heard that the Buddha said that one needs four hrs of sleep, but I am not living the life of a bikkhu, and stresses and worries of “normal” lives probably lead to an increased need.
    However, there are plenty of householders here. What are your experiences with sleep and perhaps reducing sleep to gain more time to meditate?

    I, personally, have to be careful, being in a little sensitive stage with my meditation have to make sure that I don’t increase negative emotionality by getting to little sleep.

    Once again, I would be very grateful if anyone has any thoughts and experiences to share.



    Been there done that. Now a retired hermit. The most obvious measure is to greatly curtail the time you spend on tv and internet and cell phone, whatever total time that may be. Perhaps you can get to spending one hour total per day on these. Most of it is a great waste and bad input to your mind, especially the violence. I often connect distracting thoughts in meditation to something I saw on tv. Planned times of distraction are therapeutic, however, but watch it.

    In your interactions with people, try to postpone your reactions when presented with something disturbing. Think to yourself “We will discuss it tomorrow.” Like seriously distracting thoughts in your meditation time, most of it is obviously dismissable when you reconsider it.

    More meditation time per day converting to less sleep at night happens about Stage 8.

    I found the best meditation times in family life were before others wake up and before supper. If the jhanas practices work for you, that will be a great help to your spirits.


    Ivan Ganza

    Hi moln1,

    There are a few points here coming up for me in this thread that I would like to address.

    First off, congrats on sitting consistently every day!

    I get the feeling you want to deepen and intensify your practice as much as you can. That is great and I hope you cultivate that intention. There can be some pitfalls here as well though.

    Suggest that you proceed gingerly but firmly. Try not to push yourself too hard or you risk just burning out. You will need to find the best balance in terms of life, work, hours of sleep that you need, how easily you can wake up early, and such…; this is all part of the process.

    Right now you are at critical phase, it can be good to reduce and eliminate as many unneeded activities as possible. I believe this will tend to happen naturally as your practice deepens and insights mature. The craving and need to do many of the usual activities just falls away. If you can identify any activities and such that might give you more time for formal sitting, that might be an avenue for you to open up more periods of sitting.

    Watch out though!! You need to be watchful of creating a rift between “your practice” and the rest of your life and your family. Be watchful of creating a big separation!

    In terms of activities and time practiced: Prefer Quality or Quantity. If you have 1H of fully awake formal sitting each day, that is better than 4H where you are hardly awake and just basically nodding off. You need to be the judge.

    Having said that, you might notice I am using the term “formal sitting”. When we first set out we plant the seeds of our practice, and need to take great care and nurture those seeds. So we sit formally and do the work.

    When possible try to mingle formal sitting with all the other activities of life. Study the four foundations of mindfulness. Practice Mindfulness off the cushion. Don’t just get up and leave your meditation behind. If you practice during all hours of the day, as much as you are capable, that will super charge your formal sitting time.

    Perhaps you are only able to free up the 1H for formal sitting. Yet — if you can practice during all other hours of the day — then you will basically be practicing all the time — and the fruits of that will come.

    It may seem hard or nearly impossible, but if you are gentle with yourself, and keep at it, you can “practice” almost all of the time.

    Finally: at the beginning we need to seclude ourselves a little, make that space, the essence of taking refuge and renunciation. We do the work. Eventually merging back with daily life but having a different relationship. At this point it won’t matter that much what’s going on, you can watch the violent movie, make love to with your wife, disciple your children, sit or not sit, all will taste the same.

    Even the notion of “practice” is empty and needs to be eventually abandoned.



    Hi moln1,

    Like a lot of meditators, I have found the routine of getting up an hour earlier to practice, before anyone else in the household has awoken, works very well. I don’t feel like I’m “robbing” time from my young family, I can be reasonably assured of not being interrupted, and it doesn’t feel too tightly time-boxed (it doesn’t feel that way, even though it really is time-boxed at least on one end). Without the peace of mind these three conditions bring, I find it very much more difficult or sometimes even impossible to enjoy a session. The cost to me of getting up an hour earlier is going to bed an hour earlier. This end of the routine was harder to establish, mostly because initially it was acutely perceived as “robbing” an hour in the evening (especially by my spouse). The compromise is that I ease off from the rigidity of this routine on weekends, and my “weird” bed-time is now mostly accepted. On weekends, I usually manage to fit in one decent session each day, sometimes two, always opportunistically as there is more family time available. On weekdays, a second sitting, if it happens, is again always gained opportunistically, e.g., my spouse is going out with friends or I have a bit of odd idle time at work and spend it in the multi-faith room there. Right now, I don’t have a reliable means of sitting twice daily, day in, day out. I’m comfortable with this arrangement, for now, as it feels sustainable and doesn’t put undue stress on my relationships with others.

    In a similar vein to Dan Harris’s “10% Happier”, being chronically under slept (more than 2 days) makes me feel at least 20% more miserable (from a good baseline!), so swapping sleep for meditation practice would be a lousy deal for me, at least right now. Having said that, sometimes when my routine has wobbled, there is nothing more stabilizing than ignoring how well rested or not I am, gritting my teeth, and getting up anyhow for my morning practice. Such grit is to be applied sparingly, however. Sleep is really, really important.




    Hi, Wiley, Ivan and Patrick!
    I was hit by a virus knocking me out for a while after writing, so I haven’t thanked you for sharing your great insights.

    It’s hard balancing the effort so that it is still wise 🙂
    I mean, habitually I want to start a military bootcamp regimen of less sleep and hard tough meditation 🙂
    But I do realize it is not really the way to go. I am actually trying to relax the tension around the practice, and accept that I am still in this hazy, fuzzy, dreamy part of stage 4, and just observe the aversion to it and craving for “stage progression” I experience.

    So… Balancing sleep with my other life is the intention, and relaxing the tensions.

    Once again, thanks!

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