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Pretty much as the title suggests: does it harm to meditate before sleeping? For me if I meditate seriously my mind is swept over with awakeness. as a consequence when I go to sleep I remain awake for sometime and keep thinking useless thoughts. so it kind of hinders my sleep. Is there a good practice or should meditation before sleep be avoided?

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  • Awakeness in meditation and normal awakeness (not sleeping) are two different things.
    – Pycm
    Mar 29 at 13:30
  • @Pycm I doubt that because awakeness is awakeness, it can be less or more but not different in quality (unless you mean something else by it) Apr 1 at 22:46
  • No. One can be awake in many ways. One can be normally awake, drunken awake(he is awake but has no real awareness, anesthesia, drug) , awake but without any awareness(like using high dose of anesthesia or drug). But when oneself do meditation, it's not the awakeness he get, but awareness. (some make call it awakeness).
    – Pycm
    Apr 4 at 12:05
  • Look my answer. I have just updated it. I will add more info.
    – Pycm
    Apr 4 at 12:36
  • As my old answer was, one could think that, I'm making stuff up. Even though I don't like referring, that's why I added references to my answer. So one could verify themselves.
    – Pycm
    Apr 4 at 13:15

2 Answers 2

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The Buddha meditated before sleep however laying down on his right side. For example, two suttas say:

"That is credible for the Master Gotama, as would be the case for one who is worthy & rightly self-awakened. But does the Master Gotama recall sleeping during the day?"

"I recall, Aggivessana, in the last month of the hot season, after the meal, returning from my almsround, setting out my outer robe folded in four, lying down on my right side, and falling asleep while mindful & alert."

MN 36

“I’m not feeble that I lie down, nor am I drunk on poetry. Having reached the goal, I’m rid of sorrow. Alone in a secluded lodging, I lie down full of compassion for all living creatures.

Even those with a dart stuck in the breast, piercing the heart again and again, are able to get some sleep. So why not I, whose dart is drawn out?

I don’t lie awake tense, nor do I fear to sleep. The days and nights don’t disturb me, as I see no decline for myself in the world. That’s why I lie down full of compassion for all living creatures.”

SN 4.13

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  • Did he sleep though? I am told by a teacher that he merely lied down but was completely awake during his "sleep". That made sense to be given Buddha was fully awakened Mar 28 at 3:40
  • Yes I see the edit, that he says he doesn't fear sleep. The same is true for dy9ing, he doesn't fear it - but that doesn't mean suicides. Probably too far fetched similie, but my point is that he doesn't explicitly say he sleeps. It would make no sense for a buddha to sleep (in the sense of losing awareness) given that he is fully awakened, and awakeness is direct opposite of sleep/extinguishing. Apr 5 at 1:43
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Answer can be different according to the meditation type you do.

Part 1) : general answer

Is mediating and thus becoming "awake" right before sleeping good?

Yes. But only if one do actual meditation. Like Samatha(Kasina, Maithree), Vipassana.

It will not disturb your sleeping. But solidify the sleeping.

What does that mean?

When someone sleeps. His/her mind will do all sorts of stuff. Like dreaming the future, remembering past, dreaming imaginary situations. Which uses your energy (brain and other active parts). So body and mind doesn't get the full rest/relaxation of sleeping.

But if someone do meditation before sleep, his sleep will be more stable and more solid. (even you spend little time without reaching the sleep at the beginning). Less dreams (fake). Less brain activity (my interpretation / could be incorrect) and less energy use.

So sleep will be just sleep. With less dreams, and you will feel very fresh when wake up.

as a consequence when I go to sleep I remain awake for sometime and keep thinking useless thoughts.

This could happen if you do Kasina Bawana. I suggest you to do

  • Maithree Bawana after doing your normal meditation procedure

Or

  • Maithree Bawana after went to the bed (you can do while laying on the bed) .

Part 2) : references

In Damma books / Pali canon it's clearly pointed out that good sleeping / sleep is a main direct result of Maithree Bawana. (There are 11 direct results you get when you do Maithree Bawana).

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down Free from drowsiness Reference 1 / The Amaravati Sangha

As you can see in above reference, Buddha has clearly advices on doing Maithree meditation even when laying down on the bed. Buddha is saying, Maithree meditation is suitable for any human situation like, sitting, laying, while working.

Reference 2 / Piyadassi Thera

  1. He sleeps in comfort. 2. He awakes in comfort. 3. He sees no evil dreams. 4. He is dear to human beings. 5. He is dear to non-human beings. 6. Devas (gods) protect him. 7. Fire, poison, and sword cannot touch him. 8. His mind can concentrate quickly. 9. His countenance is serene. 10. He dies without being confused in mind. 11. If he fails to attain arahantship (the highest sanctity) here and now, he will be reborn in the brahma-world.

Reference 3 / Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Reference 4 / www.dhammatalks.org


Part 3) : extra insight

Info :-

One can be awake in many ways. One can be normally awake, drunken awake(he/she is awake but has no real awareness, anesthesia, drug) , awake but without any awareness(like using high dose of anesthesia or drug). In above situations, oneself is clearly awake(not sleeping, not in coma, not dead).

But when oneself do meditation, it's not the awakeness he/she get, but awareness. (some may call it awakeness).

Meditation brings awakeness and awareness together and making mind more concentrated. (mostly Samatha meditation).

Thanks 🙏. ☸️.

Questions are welcome.

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