Meditation Q&A — Get Answers

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about meditation practice. In the video clip below, Mitra Lee Worley explains what is most important and helpful about getting to know our mind in meditation.

1. What should I do if I become sleepy in meditation?

Both sleepiness and excitement are considered obstacles in meditation practice and both are quite common. If you feel sleepy during meditation practice you can raise the gaze of your eyes a bit, focus on following your breath all the way out and in, or tighten up your posture. You might even get up and practice walking meditation for a while. You can also try opening a window or turning down the heat.

2. What can I do about laziness?

Laziness is considered an obstacle to beginning our meditation practice. There are three kinds of laziness. The first is being attached to sleep or to spacing out. The second is a craving for frivolous activities.  Third, there is the laziness that suggests to us that there’s plenty of time and that we can wait until tomorrow to practice. Laziness in any of these forms is a challenge. The traditional suggestions are to develop faith that meditation is worthwhile, to take an interest in your own mind, to exert extra effort, and to develop a more flexible mind.

3. Can I sit on a chair instead of on a cushion?

Meditation practice is intended for being in the world, and in the course of an ordinary day we are often sitting in chairs, so it’s quite natural to meditate in a chair. The traditional cross-legged posture, in which you keep your torso upright, can be done on a chair as well as on a cushion. But in this case, instead of crossing the ankles, it is helpful to place both your feet flat on the floor. However you choose to sit, the most important thing is to remain attentive and alert.

4. Is it better to do short or long sessions?

What is important is not the length of your meditation practice session, but the clarity and precision of it. You might sit for an hour and have only a moment or two of actual meditation, or you could sit for five minutes and have five minutes of continuous meditation. Meditation is those moments of awake attentiveness or mindfulness. Over time these fleeting moments will become more frequent and your desire to encourage them will increase. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has said that it is best to arise from meditating while you are still enjoying the practice. This helps build your desire to come back to your practice again the next time.

5. Is it better to practice in the morning or at night?

It is good to practice whenever and wherever you can. Ideally we practice meditation throughout both day and night. In the beginning it is best to practice whenever you have the time to do so.
Read about Nalandabodhi meditation courses in the Path of Meditation FAQ.