Practical Meditation Tips: What Should I do if I suddenly feel like falling asleep?

Welcome to practical meditation tips, an ongoing feature on this blog in which we discuss meditation practice and how to improve the results of your meditation.
This week we are going to deal with the specific problem of what to do when you suddenly become sleepy during practice.

Before gong further, we need to differentiate that there are two types of sleepiness in meditation practice. The first comes from actually being tired, which may be due to lack of sleep, or time of day, circadian rhythm and so on. Regarding this type of sleepiness, usually it is something that you will have brought in to the practice with you and usually it means that you ought to go to bed as soon as you have the chance.
The second type of sleepiness is the one I would like to deal with and it is a sudden unexpected tiredness that usually occurs within the first 15 to 45 minutes of a meditation session.
Generally, this feeling manifests as a desire to immediately lie down and go to sleep. If you lie down at this time, it will be very easy to sleep, but this is not the preferred mode of practice. Why is this?
In order to understand this problem, we need to know a bit about the effects of meditation on the body.
It is very common when meditating for the mind and nervous system to calm down to the point that the body is tricked into believing it is time for bed. Because of this, we can experience feelings of tiredness even when we are wide awake. This feeling is similar to the feeling that we might experience when we awake from bed a couple hours before normal wake up time. For instance, if you wake up to use the washroom and then go back to bed, you may find that it is very easy to doze back off to sleep, and much less trouble than setting your head down to rest at your normal bed time.
In meditation, what this usually indicates is that the body and mind are about to enter the invisible gate between regular consciousness and what Daoists call the “Pre Heaven” state. The pre heaven state is the time when the mind seems to disappear for an indefinite amount of time and then upon reappearing, usually creates a strong sensation of Qi energy in the body. This state is very important in meditation practice and represents the time when we cease to control the functioning of our bodies, but rather give over functioning to our subconscious mind and body. This is a time when the body and mind are at rest and when a great deal of healing occurs. It is also the time when we experience genuine nothingness and are thus able to undergo spiritual metamorphosis. This metamorphosis allows us to reemerge into the “Post Heaven” state with an intrinsic energetic connection from head to toe and all throughout the body. This feeling of energy is different from the Qi energy normally created during intentional Qi Gong and meditation practice and instead of being directed by our minds, simply directs itself. Although it is difficult to say what creates the energy sensation, it is possible that deep meditation elicits the release of certain types of hormones which make us feel comfortable and have a healing effect on body and psyche.
Because the sudden sleepy feeling is a precursor to this type of energetic catharsis, it is very important to practice through it to get the most benefit. The best way to do this is that as soon as you feel suddenly tired, recognize that this is a symptom of correct meditation and do not comply with your urge to lie down. instead, maintain your attention on meditation, relax your breathing, and empty you mind, staying like this for as long as possible. With enough perseverance, when the time is right, you will be able to use this method to great benefit and learn how to transverse the boundaries between conscious and unconscious/post heaven and pre heaven.

Thanks for reading this post,
if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.

Those who implore immortals won’t realize true lead and mercury.
Calmly read the alchemical books over and over again.

When you know their inner principle then arrive at what is real.
Anything coming from outside (the body) is not the real ancestor.
– Chen xiyi, pointing out the mystery essay.

A brief section from the He Shang Gong commentary of the Dao De Jing

The Riverside Elder wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Dao De Jing.  It invokes theories of the five spirits and self cultivation as central precepts of its practice.
The Riverside Elder wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Dao De Jing. It invokes theories of the five spirits and self cultivation as central precepts of its practice.

Commentary Taken from the first chapter:

The always present name is like a child who has not yet spoken. 
Like an egg, not yet opened. 
Like the bright pearl in the clam. 
Like beautiful Jade in the centre of stone. 
Although inside it is bright and shining,
its outside is stupid and dull.

– From He Shan Gong Dao De Jing commentary, chapter one.

Four Ancient Rules for Water Selection in Tea Brewing

Even though this stream at Mao Kong in Northern Taiwan is beautiful, it isn’t the best one to get tea water from. You would be better off getting water from its origin, a spring perhaps located higher up on the mountain.

Brewing tasty tea is not a trivial task, and this is something that the tea lovers of ancient China understood very well. Throughout the history of the cultural development of tea, there have been several important works of tea literature left behind for future generations to ponder. The most famous of these is the Classic of Tea by Lu Yu, but other books such as Speaking on Tea (Cha Shuo), Discussion of Tea (Cha Lun) and others left behind much of what we need to know about the most essential elements of tea appreciation.
Something featuring prominently in every tract is the importance of water selection.
In this short essay I will touch on the four major components of water selection and what they mean.
Lets Start, shall we?

yuan means origin and it points to the origin of the water we use for brewing tea. Water can commonly be found in four major places:
a) mountain springs,
b) wells,
c) creeks, rivulets, rivers and so on,
d) ponds and other sitting bodies of water.
I have intentionally left rain out here because there is only a very small amount of information in the various classics of tea which refer to collecting rain water or snow, and these are mainly contained within the novel A Dream of Red Mansions, and are meant to be read in a satirical manner.
Of all of these sources, springs are considered to be the best, wells are considered acceptable, creeks and rivers are to be avoided, and sitting water is right out.
Before we explain more about why this is, lets look at the oher three major rules for selecting water. Hopefully this rules will help illustrate why the above categories of water origin are thus organized.

Huo means life and refers to the water having an “alive” feeling. The alive feeling essentially means that the water has a certain degree of oxygenation that comes from being from a moving source. This aliveness of water goes away when it is let to sit still for too long and can result in the water becoming stale and even accumulating nasty bacteria which can be unhealthy. in any event, fresh water makes better tea.

Gan Means sweet and tea water should be slightly sweet in taste. This is usually a biproduct of source and is one of the reasons why it is preferable to choose water from mountain springs and then wells. Mountain spring water generally tends to be very sweet and soft in taste and well water is at least passable. Water from rivers is usually polluted with the detritus of the river and as a result, is generally not as good as the other two sources. Again, water from pools is usually right out, since it has often been sitting and collecting garbage for a long time.

Qing means clear, but it also means clean. Tea water must be clean because any filth in the water will ultimately go on to negatively affect the taste of the tea.

So we can see by these four points that selecting water for tea starts with the source and should conform to the simple rules that it has a living quality, is sweet, and is clear of contamination. This makes it much easier for us to figure out what kind of water we ought to use to brew our favourite teas and hopefully adds an extra dimension of interest to the hobby of tea, since it gives us something to consider, experiment with, and eventually come to master.

If you liked this article, please consider visiting the tea section of my website to have a look at my catalogue of wonderful (mostly Oolong) teas. :)

four trigrams discussion.


The Qian Trigram represents the sky, clarity, and movement. It is the extreme of Yang energy and represents the original spirit of people.


The Li Trigram represents fire and the sun, it has a broken yin line inside of Yang and represents our consciousness, which is both made up of nature (the outside Yang lines) and feeling (the inside yin line). It also refers to the heart (Yang) and the oxygen in our blood (Yin).


The Kan Trigram represents water. It has two broken yin lines with a yang line inside it and also represents out kidneys. The solid line represents life energy which is hidden deeply within us.


The Kun trigram represents earth and the corporeal body. Any physical form without movement is represented by this element and it is considered to be representative of death but also as the root of life.

These four trigrams are very important in meditation theory, since our goal is to abandon ourselves to the deep yin state of the earth trigram in order to cause the latent energy within the water trigram to shift and replace the yin energy of the fire trigram, thus changing out regular consciousness from the mind of consciousness and emotions, to the mind of pure consciousness, in which emotional feeling is replaced with the feeling of life energy.
Because the mind has latent feeling, which is yin and considered to be heavy, we can use this feeling to allow the consciousness to sink and become heavy, allowing the latent energy hidden within the water trigram to rise up, thus allowing us to attain vitality and awareness of universal reality not polluted by our thoughts and feelings.

Quote of the day: from xing Ming fa jue Ming zhi.

Every time before you meditate,
Make it your work to dispense with all random thoughts.
Relax your belt and clothes, the body shouldn’t be hindered.
The blood meridians will naturally flow everywhere without obstruction.
– recorded by the student of Qian Feng Lao Ren.