Getting either sleepy or tense during the sit

| Gaia House Retreat 2015 – Jun 05 Interview Groups C & D Session 4 (1:22:40-1:27:25)

You don’t need to sit so much; mindfulness is important, not sitting. All you need is mindfulness. You can be mindful in daily activities means that you’re doing correctly there – reflect on what you’re doing right there and what is wrong when you’re sitting; why the mind is not working in the same way.

If we sit with the idea that this is not interesting - we’re doing what we’re being told – it can be mechanical. And we have many old habits from past retreats; so, whenever we sit we can get drowsy; but daily activities are fresh, they are new and you never knew what is going to happen next. So, the mind is watchful.

In sitting, it’s some wrong thoughts. It’s very important to find this out; also not to stay sleepy in sitting because the mind develops habits very easily. Whether you are conscious or not, whatever is done over and over again becomes a habit. If we sit and we’re sleepy every sit, it becomes a habit of the mind; we’ll become sleepy every sit.

So, some people get tense when they sit because they’re practicing wrong and it becomes a habit, the tension becomes a habit. The moment they sit, they become tense even when they’re not being mindful. If we don’t want these bad habits to grow, we need to investigate.

Reflect on what you’re doing right in walking and other activities and see whether you can bring the same kind of thinking, the same kind of attitude and approach to mindfulness into the sitting. And you also want to recognize what the mind is thinking, what’s the approach when the mind sits. You want to see that - how the mind works.

Closing the eyes for too long is no good, particularly if we’re not alert. If we’re not alert and we have our eyes closed, it is very easy for the mind to quiet down and get lost in the stories in the head. The moment the mindfulness is not watchful and on the ball, immediately the other side takes over – the tendency for delusion to take over. Delusion is always at the door.

That’s why we’re always having to be mindful; this work must keep going, this work must keep happening. Because if this work is not happening, then the other work is happening.

And when we’re working, of course we always have to be checking how we’re working because we can be mindful with too much effort, too much of this and too little of that, and we have to be checking how we are mindful.