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Hacking sleep cycles for improving morning meditations

In Tips and Q&A

Morning is usually considered as the best time for meditation. Indeed it is but only if you have prepared yourself for it! Otherwise, you might fall into sleep, dreaming and lethargy. All of them will not allow you to go deeper in meditation. In the context of meditation, those who say that in the morning, the mind is at rest, either are just repeating what they have read somewhere or heard from someone else, or they already have a well established morning meditation practice. It is not a given that you start meditating in the morning as the first thing and it has a good depth and quality.

 

Amongst others there are two factors which play a significant role in deciding the quality of your meditation sessions:

 

A) Activities in your mind: If you have lots of pending thoughts from the past evening, you will end up being engaged and struggling with them for most of the time in your meditation session. Dreaming is another activity of your mind which can continue even while you are awake and trying to meditate. So for a quality meditation session it is important that you mind is not highly active and is not interrupting in your awareness.

 

B) Awareness: Unless your awareness is functioning properly, meditation doesn’t make much sense. Your meditation session will simply be dull and occupied by the activities of your mind. A sharp awareness has to be developed to penetrate deep into consciousness for progressing in meditation.

 

So a very general formula for a good meditation session is to have low activity of your mind and a high awareness. Below are two scenarios and respective tips on how you can achieve a quality meditation session:

 

SCENARIO 1: MEDITATE BEFORE THE LAST STAGES OF YOUR SLEEP CYCLE

 

Sleep happens in cycles of 4 stages ranging from light to deep sleep and the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep which is usually characterised by extensive dreaming. Towards the morning, you will experience lighter sleep phases and larger periods of REM sleep. You might have realised that you often wake up in the morning out of this dreaming stage. When you wake up from an extensive dreaming stage and try to mediate thereafter, you will be often drawn back into your dreaming. Hence for a deep meditation session, it is best to wake up before the very last phases of your sleep cycle i.e. when REM cycles are becoming more frequent. This approach is recommended for advanced meditators as it would require you to get up as early as 4 am. Assuming you sleep at around 11, you are more in the deep sleep phases until 4, after which there are more REM cycles. If you can manage to be ahead of these last phases by waking up around 4 am and meditate as the first thing, you will surely have a high quality meditation session. Although it would require a bit of commitment for forming such a habit, it is worth every effort.

 

SCENARIO 2: MEDITATE AFTER THE LAST STAGES OF YOUR SLEEP CYCLE

 

If you wake up after your extensive dreaming phases, best is to not sit immediately into meditation as your mind is still occupied in dreaming and awareness is also not fully active. In this case, best is to do something which breaks the connection to your sleep, dreaming and lethargy. You could try doing the following:

 

A) Drinking tea or coffee as the first thing, although I am not a big promoter of any such habit but if it temporarily helps you to become more aware, it is better to have an effective session of meditation than just wasting time in lethargy and dreaming in the name of meditation.

B) Exercising: Just 20 mins of a short workout or Yoga can fill you with energy and focus, and take you out of the contents of your sleep.

C) Chaotic breathing: Sitting on a chair or on the ground, if you breathe in and out aggressively and randomly for 10 minutes, it can throw out all the left over contents from your mind in this process. A sense of natural peace will arise which will immediately take you into meditation as soon as you close your eyes afterwards.

D) Morning walk: If you are lucky enough to live close to nature, go out and breathe in fresh air. Nothing refreshes and prepares you better for meditation than the aliveness of nature itself. It will also help you to feel more connected with existence, a sense of gratitude and positivity will fill your heart.

 

In any case, if there is one thing I can urge you to incorporate in your life, that would be regular meditation. Just sitting in deep silence generates such an indescribable bliss. I personally consider it as the highest experience which can be contained in human consciousness.

 

Keep meditating,

Meditation Easy Team