Are you the type of person who sits down to meditate and wakes up wondering why you’re drooling on your meditation cushion? Let’s face it, meditation is meant to relax you, but perhaps you’re getting a little too relaxed. Too Zen to stay conscious, as it were. So, how do you find that delicate balance between achieving inner tranquillity and not nodding off?
Wait, what? You thought I’d kick off with a classical meditation posture or breath work, didn’t you? Nah. Let’s get real. Sometimes the path to heightened awareness involves scrubbing off last night’s lasagna from your oven dish. As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh advises, when you wash the dishes, wash the dishes. It’s not just about the dishes—it’s about being utterly present in the act. The warm water, the foam, the squeaky clean end result—let it all bring you back to here and now.
You know the drill at airports: Remove your shoes, empty your pockets, arms up, and prepare to be scrutinised. Now, apply this level of rigour to your body scan meditation. Visualise an X-ray machine scanning you from head to toe, revealing tension, aches, or—God forbid—a forgotten pocket of stress hidden somewhere. Make it vivid. Make it count. There’s no room for snoozing when you’re mentally in an airport security line, trust me.
You think I’m joking? Alright, I am—sort of. But imagine the adrenaline pumping through your veins as you sit on the literal edge, where one wrong move would mean… well, let’s not go there. While I don’t actually recommend cliff-edge meditation for obvious safety reasons, placing yourself mentally in such a precarious position can jolt you into an unparalleled state of awareness. A word to the wise: if you’re actually going to do this, maybe stick to visualisation.
Good old breath work, but with a spin influenced by the wisdom of Jack Kornfield. Inhale as if you’re drawing in the wisdom of the universe and exhale like you’re releasing all the nonsense that you—and everyone else—have been holding onto. Inhale wisdom, exhale nonsense. Keep it as simple and as profound as that.
Sometimes you need to borrow wisdom to synthesise your own. Richard Rohr often talks about how the present moment is the only moment where you can encounter the divine. So, create a mantra that brings you back to your centre. It can be something as simple as, “Now, here, this.” Let that be your anchor, pulling you back every time your mind—or your eyelids—start to wander.
Meditation is a deeply personal journey and even the most adept of us find ourselves dozing off at times. Let’s cut the crap—no one is judging. But hey, don’t you want to be awake for your own life’s journey?
So, what’s stopping you from applying these quirky yet impactful tips during your next meditation session? And remember, if you find yourself teetering on the edge—hopefully just metaphorically—it might just be the wake-up call you’ve been waiting for.
Updated for 2023