62 Sleepitation, Loving-Kindness, and Q&A

16 May 2011

In this afternoon’s session, Alan first gives advice on the sleep imbalances that can arise during retreat (or outside of retreat) and introduces us to the practice of “sleepitation” to ground oneself in the earth element and relax deeply when trying to sleep. He then reviews the instructions of loving-kindness for oneself in detail, after which we share an unguided 24-minute meditation on loving-kindness.

The unguided meditation begins at 18:40.
Q&A begins at 47:15.

Alan then answers questions from this morning’s practice of mindfulness of breathing, the first stage:

1. In the part of the practice when you feel the breath where it is strongest, for me it is the abdomen. This means the practice feels just like stage two of mindfulness of breathing. Is this right?

2. I’ve been getting headaches for a few days. I know they are being caused by tension, but I can’t find the source of the tension, and meditating in the infirmary does not help.

3. In “The Attention Revolution” you say you should notice if the breath is long or short. Is this like counting the breaths, something you drop after some time?

4. When I do mindfulness of breathing, I usually keep my eyes closed. This morning, they kept opening — I have no idea why — but it was very distracting.

5. When I experience medium excitation during mindfulness of breathing, usually the third stage (attending to the breath at the nostrils), and I am in the flow of the practice, and only medium excitation sets in, the thoughts still take me away, but in the background I am aware of the breath. When this happens, I feel that the experience of this medium excitation is the same as course excitation — the volume and intensity of the thought is the same, although I still have some peripheral awareness of the breath.

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