Some days, our minds race a thousand thoughts per minute. In these moments, when our minds need to hit the pause button and we want to refocus our energy, it can be the ideal time to try out meditation. Unfortunately, many of us may find it challenging to stay awake during meditation. The moment our bodies and minds begin to relax, our eyelids start to feel heavy.
Staying conscious and concentrated during meditation is no easy task. Even the professionals find themselves faced with these challenges. Luckily for us, the experts have tips and tricks they’ve learned through their own experiences to help us successfully complete a full session of meditation. Read on as we talk with Aaptiv trainers Ceasar Barajas and Jade Alexis about the best ways to not only stay awake during meditation but to also make it a calming and reenergizing experience.
Then, try one of their meditations for yourself in the Aaptiv app.
How to Prep
Before you sit down or otherwise prepare for your meditation, consider how long it’s been since your last meal. Alexis suggests clients “try to meditate on an empty stomach. This will make sure there is no gas or bloating or digestive distraction,” which can be huge roadblocks when trying to clear and focus your mental energy on breathing. Additionally, eating larger meals can induce a sleepy mindset.
That said, don’t go into a meditation starving either as an empty stomach will also be a distraction. Feel free to grab a snack if it’s been a few hours since you ate. “If you do eat, try to keep it light and clean, like a piece of fruit or fresh salad [and] you should be OK to meditate,” Alexis says. This will “give you energy and lessen any bodily distractions.”
What to Do if You Feel Yourself Falling Asleep
According to Barajas, it’s completely normal to feel yourself drift off. It even happens to him. “It means the body is relaxed!” he says. “We fall asleep because we mentally ‘let go’ and ‘drift off.’ Meditation is intentional thinking, though, so as long as we continue to concentrate on the breath, mantra, or other focus, then we stay consciously awake. Meditation is a way to allow the mind to relax while allowing a physical disconnect from your own body.”
For a helpful breathing tool, Barajas says, “Any deep, controlled, and conscious breathing techniques can help re-energize you. For example, visualize your breath cycle. Imagine seeing the air enter your body at the tip of your nose, entering your nasal passageway, filling your lungs, expanding your rib cage, and blowing your belly up like a little balloon. Take about three to six seconds, then, pausing for a moment, watch in your mind the air leaving your body. Double the amount of time of exhaling, maybe six to 12 seconds. Do this three to five times for a quick boost of energy.”
According to Alexis, there are a couple tricks to implement to help you stay awake during meditation. “Try having a window open, so there is a breeze to keep you awake,” she says. If that doesn’t work, “use a soft, non-distracting bell-sounding cell phone alarm set to go off every few minutes. If you’re dozing off, the ring will snap you out of it and refocus your energy.”
But also, along with boosting energy, if you have trouble sleeping, meditation can be a great tool. Aaptiv has several relaxing and soothing sleep meditations available.
If You’re New to Meditation…
Starting off, it’s important to “remember that meditation does not have to be for a long time, nor does it even have to be in a sitting position in stillness,” Barajas says. “There are a variety of ways to meditate, including breathing meditations, visual meditations, intention meditations, and/or activity-based meditations. Meditation is intentional thinking with a focus on breathing. As long as you can breathe, you can meditate.”
Also, be patient with yourself. Alexis stresses that practice makes perfect when it comes to meditation. “You might feel like you fail every time you try. The only time you fail is when you stop trying! It is completely normal for the mind to be distracted by other thoughts, worries, fears, concerns. Eventually, you will become better at quieting these ‘noises’ and just be in the moment. Unless it comes naturally to you, meditation takes practice. Be patient with yourself, don’t give up, and celebrate your milestones,” she says. “Each time you sit and focus for one more breath or one more minute, feel good about it.”
Ready to start a regular meditation practice? Click here.