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My upper back muscles are not strong enough yet to support seated meditation, so I use supine/savanana posture sometimes. My mind falls into short dream states, like hypnagogia, very easily in this posture, however.

Any tips for overcoming this laxity while doing supine meditation? I am only doing samatha meditation these days.

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The Meditation on Falling to Sleep:

We can be on mindful guard for the arising of the moment we start to fall asleep. This mindfulness should stop the falling asleep and can give an initial boost in the meditation faculties like effort and concentration so we won't fall asleep as much and we can then better practice whatever we want with those improved faculties and wakefulness.

We can know when we are starting to fall asleep by finding and tuning into were the bodily or mental experiences are that we know always happen right before we start to fall asleep. We then can easily catch when we will start to fall asleep.

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When you are falling asleep or getting drowsy there is a feeling associated with it (mild uncomfortable heaviness or tightness around your head). Concentrate on this sensation analysing is in terms of Mahābhūta or type of sensation (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), in this case it is mildly unpleasant. Also you level of awareness is diminishing, so focus on any sensation and actively keeps directing your awareness to any sensation you can feel, continuously evaluating to see if there any lapse of awareness and redirecting your attention to sensations that can be felt.

Also see:

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When using a supine position the trick is to be comfortable without being so comfortable that one falls asleep or enters that subconscious state. I would recommend trying two positions and one form of breathing. First, the way people usually breath without thinking about it is through the chest. Try breathing with the diaphragm, allowing the belly to rise and fall. This type of breathing takes more concentration making one more mindful of the breath regardless of the meditative position assumed. Second, let's consider the two most likely to succeed positions. Lie down on the floor (beds ARE for sleeping) with your legs bent and your toes turned inward toward the center so that your legs do not flop open as you relax. Arms slightly away from the body with palms up. No pillow for the head. Jaw relaxed with tongue resting on the roof of the mouth. Eyes open to discourage sleepiness. Unless this is your normal sleeping position, you should be able to remain mindful during your meditation. The other position is to turn on your side with your arm crooked to rest your head. Your other arm should be resting on your side. Place a small tubular pillow under your shoulder for support. It is alright to move your arm occasionally for comfort, and then resume your meditative position. Again breath from your diaphragm, and jaw/tongue as described above, eyes open. A blanket may be used to lie on if you do not have carpeting.

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Samatha meditation is based on mindfulness and the path from calm (samatha) to insight (vipassanā) so it is very important so you must make sure you are relaxed and feeling comfortable when meditating.

There are two important points in meditation -- the body and the mind, so you will need to make sure you body feels good when you meditate.

It is important to keep the body straight so that the subtle channels of the body will be straight, too. If these subtle channels are straight, then the subtle energies within these channels will circulate freely. It is said that the mind is like a horse riding the circulation of the subtle energies of the body. When it is riding this energy freely, it is relaxed and peaceful.

The fivepoint description is usually used to help with this:

  • The first point is that the body should be straight and upright. It should be "as straight as an arrow" which means one's back should be straight and one shouldn't lean forwards, backwards, or to either side.
  • The second point is that the throat should be slightly bent downwards like a hook. There are two subtle channels inside the throat, and if they are bent slightly forward, the energy will circulate in them reducing mental agitation in one's meditation.
  • The third point is that the legs should be crossed in "patterns of latticework" which means that the legs should be kept in a crossed position. If one can put them in the full lotus posture, good. If not, simply cross them in the half lotus posture.
  • The fourth point is the body should be "gathered together like chains." After straightening the body, lock it in that position as with iron shackles. The way to do this is to join the hands, placing them the width of four fingers below the navel.
  • The fifth point is to keep one's mind and body reasonably tight exerting a certain amount of effort so the body and mind are composed and focused. This is compared to one's tongue when one, for example, pronounces the Tibetan letters "li" and "ri" which requires a certain amount of tension in the tongue. In the same way, one should always maintain a certain amount of effort and alertness in the body and mind.

The great teacher, Marpa, said that there are many different instructions on meditation posture, but he preferred this fivepoint posture saying that if one could keep the body in this posture, the subtle energy circulating in the body would be ideal and would actually circulate though the central channel of the body.

  • Your answer in very concise and informative, but does not answer the question. Would you care to add to your answer in order to address the question that was asked? – Bonnie Topits Jun 8 '16 at 1:48
  • Only essential is the body should be straight and upright. – Dhammadhatu Jun 8 '16 at 3:57

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