As part of our #MeditationHacks series, Anita Feng, teacher for the Blue Heron Zen Community in Seattle, helps a practitioner navigate the path between drowsiness and daydreaming.
When I’m meditating, I mostly flip-flop between trying not to fall asleep and getting lost in my thoughts and fantasies. How do I stop going back and forth between drowsiness and monkey mind?
Anita Feng: Whenever you wander into the stupor of sleepiness or the labyrinth fantasies of the monkey mind, just note this occurrence. There is no need to be distracted further by imposing any ideas about the quality of your practice. Just come back, and recognize these “obstacles” as helpful guideposts along the way. You are on the path, which is wonderful! Furthermore, you see what your mind is doing—this is essential! Just imagine how many human beings are lost in a dream, utterly controlled by delusions and perpetuating pain for themselves and others.
To return to present moment reality is an act of tremendous faith, courage, and resilience.
Therefore, when you notice thoughts that say, “Drowsiness quicksand over here, watch out!” or “Chasm of demonic fantasies over here!” return with kindness and compassion to the path, which is nothing other than this very moment. On this you can rely, always. To return to present moment reality is an act of tremendous faith, courage, and resilience. Over time, your skill will improve. So what are those skillful means?
First, rest in open, spacious awareness. Then, like a cat poised in front of a mouse hole, be attentive and alert to what is, just now, emerging. Without picking or choosing, without elaborating on likes or dislikes, just see (hear, taste, smell, touch) what appears. Then, moment by moment, you will have this beautiful and perfect opportunity to find your fitting place in our long-suffering world.
Read more from our #MeditationHacks series…
Your Partner Disapproves?
A new meditator’s spouse disapproves of their newfound practice. Susan Piver, founder of The Open Heart Project, answers.
Other Ways to Practice?
Vipassana teacher Konda Mason answers the question: “Is it OK if I find other ways to be meditative besides sitting on a cushion following my breath?”
Not Enlightened Yet?
Author and musician Miguel Chen comforts a practitioner who doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to enlightenment.
Buddhist Traditions: Which Way to Go?
Rev. angel Kyodo williams, founder of the Center for Transformative Change, advises on what to do when confronted with too many choices.
Author and psychoanalyst, Pilar Jennings, offers advice to a practitioner who continues to feel unworthy and unloved.
Sleepy Mind, Monkey Mind?
Anita Feng, teacher for the Blue Heron Zen Community in Seattle, helps a practitioner navigate the path between drowsiness and daydreaming.
Is Meditation Painful?
Buddhist teacher Mushim Patricia Ikeda suggest alternatives when meditation becomes too painful.
Don’t Like Meditating?
Lila Kate Wheeler, author and trainer at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, answers what to do if you don’t like to meditate.
Practicing for Myself?
A Mahayana Buddhist who is encouraged to practice for the benefit of all sentient being feels like they are only practicing for their own benefit. Venerable Thubten Chodron answers.
Meditation Leading to an Unstable Mind?
Josh Bartok, a Zen teacher, suggest what to do if meditating leads to an unstable mind.
Still a Schmuck?
A reader asks Sylvia Boorstein: “What’s the point of practice if it’s not making me a better person?”
Overwhelmed by Emotions?
Author and lay Zen teacher Susan Moon is asked: “Should I stop meditating when emotions begin to overwhelm me?”
Practicing on Your Own?
An isolated practitioner asks dharma teacher Mitchell Ratner where to look for community.