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    Thread: Is this sleeping or meditating?

    1. #1
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      Question Is this sleeping or meditating?

      I don't do any special practice nor do I have "knowledge" on meditation. When I was like, a funny 7-8 y/o child I used to "practice yoga every morning" and ended the session with "death pose". That, I guess is how and when I started meditating almost every day. During the death pose, I always "fell asleep". At least I thought I did, it was either "aware sleeping" (what is that is there such thing) or "meditating" since I had an "awareness" during this. I used to get out of this state on will, feeling refreshed afterwards. I felt blissful and had very clear thinking.

      Now that I started having the same experience recently, I want to know the reason, like, the biology of what's really happening. And asking here because I know there are many members who practice meditation and most definitely know a lot more than I do on the topic.

      So let me describe:

      I lie on my back, eyes closed, no music, I'm not tired. I focus on my tummy breathing and let the thoughts begin running. At first, the thoughts are either meditation related or related to five senses (like, "my back feels uncomfortable" "I wish it could be less noisy"). Then, I lose the control of my thoughts, they get very unrelated and "completely random". And I eventually lose my interest/focus on my thoughts AND my breathing. Now this is hard to describe but then I "give in" and get a sense of stillness/peacefulness. I can get out of this state on will. An hour of such "session" feels like a few minutes. I feel very sharp, relaxed, refreshed and carefree afterwards. It feels better than getting a long night's sleep.

      I don't "care" if it fits the definition of meditation/sleep. It's not important, of course. I don't really believe in "doing things the right way" but believe in "finding our unique ways of doing things". It is my curiosity and fascination with human brain, which made me type this question.

      Can sleeping be observed by the sleeper (except for when lucid dreaming)? What states can brain enter during meditation? Can a whole night's sleep be replaced by meditation? Can I use what I had experienced to enter a lucid dream? I have millions of "consciousness related" questions. If you could take the time to share your experience and knowledge I'd be very happy.
      Last edited by figurefly; 09-04-2015 at 03:01 PM.
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      "When I was like, a funny 7-8 y/o child I used to "practice yoga every morning" and ended the session with "death pose". That, I guess is how and when I started meditating almost every day."
      That's a funny way to start meditating xD I learned it from *link removed*, the website that introduced me to lucid dreaming.

      I've heard from 1 monk that Buddhist monks sleep for 4 hours and meditate the rest of the day. If what he says is true, then meditation might reduce the amount of sleep. But even for them it's not eliminated. And please keep in mind that these ladies gentlemen have the following things kept to a minimum or are nonexistent: social interactions, work, learning new things (except purely subjective, meditation related things, so it's not even the science of meditation), exercise. It's a totally different lifestyle. But, my gut feeling would suggest that, because meditation clears your mind, and sleep also clears your mind, meditation should reduce the necessary amount of sleep. Makes sense, right? That monk also said that sometimes the go for 2-3 full days without sleep, only meditating.

      Also, I'd slightly change what you said. If your goal is to go to work by car, then randomly running over people is probably not the right way, I'd even be audacious enough to call it the wrong way to get to work xD Steering with your feat is not as wrong, but probably also not the right way But from my ignorant, beginner point of view, your way of meditating seems excellent. You focus on your breathing, something weird happens, and then you're carefree, clear minded, sharp, refreshed.

      Also, I'd think of meditation like a way to get rid of the cobwebs, as effective as it is, I wouldn't think of it as a replacement for sleep. But I don't have any evidence or even vague memories from neuroscience videos to justify this claim. 1 Thing though, that I just remembered now, which is pretty convincing to me, is that no expert meditator ever came to a neuroscientist, saying: "Hey... That thing that you and your pals think of as the single most important thing after breathing and drinking water? Yeah, yeah, sleep. I can go without that. Put me in a brain scanner and get some earth-shattering data, my friend." If such a thing happened I'd probably have found out about it during my years of wandering through the internet. Some of this wandering was spent looking at the science of sleep and meditation (seperately).

      The way you describe your after-meditation state of mind, that's how I am after a good night's rest. Like right now = D I just slept for 11-12 hours.

      Also (I'm sorry for talking so much, I'm too lazy to edit this post and get to the point in less words), I could find some videos about the science behind sleep and meditation (seperate topics), so maybe you could get some ideas. Tell me if you'd like that = ) Though I must add, probably no amount of videos or any other research will be enough to answer everything down to your last x-millionth question
      Last edited by Zoth; 09-04-2015 at 08:25 PM. Reason: Link Removed.
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    3. #3
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      It could be a deep trance or a lucid nap or yoga nidra/clear light sleep. Like you said, drawing the line isn't so important or necessary. In the brain, deep states of meditation can be very much like REM sleep or deep sleep. In a nap, you tend to go directly into REM, skipping or greatly shortening the other states of a more typical long sleeping period. REM is the period of sleep that mostly refreshes the mind. REM is also the time we may dream and lucid dream. Clear light sleep is a state of conscious awareness during deep sleep (well, that's imprecisely mixing Eastern and Western terminology, but I think it's a fair working definition). Deep sleep is the period that mostly restores the body. Subjectively, clear light sleep is not quite like ordinary dreams because it tends to be more void and abstract, but still sharp and present. I have experienced it a few times. But you don't necessarily need to be asleep, just reach the mental/neurological state that is similar to sleep.

      Whether it's something like REM or deep sleep, it's very "efficient" at restoring you. By skipping the less restoring transitional states of sleep, you pack a lot of restoration into a short amount of time. That's why a nap, timed properly, can feel about as restoring as a full night's sleep. This is the basis of all the polyphasic sleep systems: by carefully manipulating the timing of sleep, you catch more efficient sleep sessions, so require less sleep overall while being more fresh all the time. At least that's the ideal. In practice, there are many other factors that make polyphasic sleep more difficult. But less rigorous that polyphasic sleep, we all can relate that well timed naps, relaxation, and meditation can keep us fresh throughout the day. And this deep state of meditation of yours seems to be a particularly effective example of that.
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      sisyphus, thanks for pointing out yoga nidra, I forgot to mention that.

      But you make a lot of claims there, and if there is solid evidence to justify those claims, I'd be very excited to read the reports of the study.

      1) " In the brain, deep states of meditation can be very much like REM sleep or deep sleep."

      2) "But you don't necessarily need to be asleep, just reach the mental/neurological state that is similar to sleep." Is there really? How do you know that sleep yogi truly rest as well as you would with "unconscious sleep", or regular sleep?

      3) "By skipping the less restoring transitional states of sleep, you pack a lot of restoration into a short amount of time." Where is your evidence that other states beside REM are less restoring?

      4) "That's why a nap, timed properly, can feel about as restoring as a full night's sleep." Just because it feels so, doesn't mean it actually is just as effective.

      I'm not calling you a liar, I'm just saying that your post contradicts a lot of things I've heard about meditation and sleep, so I'm asking for evidence.
      Last edited by Ginsan; 09-04-2015 at 09:32 PM.
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    5. #5
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      Quote Originally Posted by sisyphus View Post
      Whether it's something like REM or deep sleep, it's very "efficient" at restoring you. By skipping the less restoring transitional states of sleep, you pack a lot of restoration into a short amount of time. That's why a nap, timed properly, can feel about as restoring as a full night's sleep. This is the basis of all the polyphasic sleep systems: by carefully manipulating the timing of sleep, you catch more efficient sleep sessions, so require less sleep overall while being more fresh all the time.
      That's right. Naps are what keep me going. I can't say that I have a true polyphasic cycle (yet) but I usually get 4 hours of core sleep and a few naps/meditations during day. Naps help me keeping my mood up. Also, having a daytime nap is my guaranteed way of having a lucid dream in my core sleep, without trying. So naps are definitely pretty amazing. And thanks a bunch for the answer sisyphus!

      Quote Originally Posted by Ginsan View Post
      I learned it from ***, the website that introduced me to lucid dreaming.
      I could read it before the link was removed That website is pretty neat and informative, one of the best. (ad alert)

      Quote Originally Posted by Ginsan View Post
      I've heard from 1 monk that Buddhist monks sleep for 4 hours and meditate the rest of the day. If what he says is true, then meditation might reduce the amount of sleep.
      A very close relative of mine says so. He says he didn't feel any need to sleep (couldn't sleep) for days in a period of time in which he was intensely meditating all week.


      Quote Originally Posted by Ginsan View Post
      Also (I'm sorry for talking so much, I'm too lazy to edit this post and get to the point in less words), I could find some videos about the science behind sleep and meditation (seperate topics), so maybe you could get some ideas. Tell me if you'd like that = ) Though I must add, probably no amount of videos or any other research will be enough to answer everything down to your last x-millionth question
      Shouldn't be sorry for typing a lot. The way you write is great! While reading, I actually hope to never see the last line and secretly wish I could type as many words without being boring. (And without making grammar mistakes ) I'm very interested on these topics and I would love to check out your findings too. I'm hoping to study neurology in the future so I can spend my life on dream/sleep research and satisfy this burning desire to find the answer to my x-millionth question.


      EDIT: Ginsan you're right. sisyphus, it would be great to post links to real studies, and suggest books which talk around the topic, so we can do further searching and thinking.
      Last edited by figurefly; 09-04-2015 at 09:39 PM.
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      "While reading, I actually hope to never see the last line and secretly wish I could type as many words without being boring."


      :










      Okay I'm overdoing it now but I humbly appreciate your kind remark


      I'll start looking for some videos about the science of sleep and meditation, also about neuroscience and psychology, (they all overlap anyway) since you're so interested = ) Things will gradually come to mind and I'll slowly add links 1 by 1.

      An 11 minute Ted-talk: Jeff Iliff: One more reason to get a good night’s sleep


      Since you're concerned with your grammar.... Be careful though.. I will often be too lazy to look up whether I am actually correct or not, so every time I correct you, it will probably be my intuition speaking.
      "Naps help me keeping my mood up." It's: Naps help me keep my mood up.
      "I'm very interested on these topics" I'm very interested in these topics.
      "it would be great to post links to real studies" It would be great if you would post links to real studies.
      "and suggest books which talk around the topic" Here you can't use "around" instead of "about". I understand why you'd use "around", because a book that is about something usually talks around that something But the correct word is "about".
      Last edited by Ginsan; 09-04-2015 at 10:28 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Ginsan View Post
      Since you're concerned with your grammar.... Be careful though.. I will often be too lazy to look up whether I am actually correct or not, so every time I correct you, it will probably be my intuition speaking.
      "Naps help me keeping my mood up." It's: Naps help me keep my mood up.
      "I'm very interested on these topics" I'm very interested in these topics.
      "it would be great to post links to real studies" It would be great if you would post links to real studies.
      Nooo! 3? Why are you so cruel Ginsan, why??? I'll admit, being reminded of my language errors makes me feel like throwing up. All these years of school, net surfing, chatting in English, but I still make many mistakes.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Ginsan View Post
      There's more xD
      3 is the limit of grammar mistakes you can bring up in my threads. I set the rules
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      I typed some things, and when I clicked "post", an error occurred, and it was removed. But it ended with something like this: "I feel that if I go on like this, I might feel like throwing up too So from now on I'll only point out the glaring mistakes." Talking like this suggests that I am really good at grammar, but I very often don't know how to say/write something, especially right now that I've become more sensitive to grammar xD
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      Your skepticism is well appreciated. I don't have a very rigorous set of references at my finger tips at present, but I will try to summarize the science and offer a few studies. I will clarify, that I did not mean to suggest that meditation could entire replace sleep, nor that manipulating one's sleep schedule excessively is a healthful proposition. Rather, these are supporting practices. And, in my reading, I think there is a general consensus that there is common ground in Eastern and Western traditions about the benefits of adequate sleep and mindfulness practices.

      Meditation states as similar to sleep
      The scientific inferences here are mainly based on comparing body measurements of people while meditating versus while sleeping. EEG brain activity is the most common measurement, but also things like body temperatures and muscle tone. Here is one meta-study that reports other studies that investigated different forms of meditation and how they affected EEG readings. You'll see that some forms of meditation are associated with alpha waves (which are associated with alertness), while other forms promote theta waves and other frequencies (associated with sleep).


      Role of REM vs deep sleep
      The studies here usually deprive the subjects of one stage of sleep, and then test various skills afterward. If depriving a subject of one stage but not others impairs a certain skill, we can infer that that sleep stage is particularly important for supporting that skill. For deep sleep, the skills that are most impaired tend to be physical: balance, muscle coordination, tissue growth and repair. For REM, the skills that are most impaired tend to be higher-level mental: learning, accessing memory. Many studies in this vein. Here are but two examples.


      Preference of REM and deep sleep over light sleep(NREM 1 and 2)
      The studies here also revolve around deprivation. Basically, when you deprive someone of sleep for a time and then eventually let them sleep, the progression of sleep stages will be different. Specifically, the body will tend to favor more deep and REM sleep after a period of deprivation, with less light sleep in between. The inference is that, under stress, the body prioritizes the more important stage to restore homeostasis. A common example is REM rebound, which this study is about.


      Is a nap as good as sleep?
      I'm not suggesting that naps could totally replace sleep, but studies show that naps are effective in maintaining performance when normal sleep is deprived.
      Last edited by sisyphus; 09-04-2015 at 11:06 PM.
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      I won't read the studies, but I'm confident enough that your descriptions are accurate. I don't disagree with anything you say in that post, because now it doesn't sound like you're suggesting that meditation can replace sleep. I'm sorry that you had to link to those studies, it appears to have been overkill And thanks for the short descriptions.

      I do agree that meditation does a lot that sleep can't do on its own, but without sufficient sleep, I don't think you can get those benefits.
      Last edited by Ginsan; 09-04-2015 at 11:04 PM.
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      Also, to be clear, I want to clarify that I don't advocate polyphasic sleep. I mentioned it because it's one of those extreme examples that helps to illuminate some underlying principles. But as a practice, polyphasic sleep is in the realm of extreme hobbyists, or those with very unusual sleep patterns.
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      I'm sorry, I can't find anything better than this.

      Steven Pinker How The Mind Works

      Start at 6:45 if you want to hear Steven talk, not a boring introduction.
      Last edited by Ginsan; 09-06-2015 at 04:08 PM.
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      Hi figurefly,

      I think that focusing on the value of what you get from your experiences is where it's at.

      I think that the most valuable things of all are what your method of relaxing does for you ("...I feel sharp, relaxed, refreshed and carefree afterwards...and get a sense of stillness/peacefulness...It feels better than getting a long night's sleep...I felt blissful and had very clear thinking...").

      It's also valuable that you are aware and can leave the trance state at will.

      Third valuable thing is that you believe in finding your own unique ways of doing things. You trust your intuition. Most people focus too hard on logic, reasoning, and "science" at the expense of intuition and creativity. Glad you're one of those who do not. Intuition is priceless and few there be that know how to make good use of it.

      I'll try to address a few of your questions as best I can:

      1. Yes, you can sometimes observe your physical body when you meditate, AP, LD, have an OBE, and during an NDE. Part of the definition of lucid dreaming is being aware that you are sleeping.

      2. You have the potential to enter all or most of the brain states while meditating, sleeping, while working with energy, or any kind of trance work.

      3. I don't know anyone who does well physically for very long by replacing sleep with meditation. But you might set your alarm for 3 AM and try to meditate until 6 AM instead of sleeping until 6 AM or later. I can't tell you how long to sleep before 3. That is up to you and would vary with each individual. Experiment and see but sleep more if you start getting too tired during the day, start to get moody, feel sick, or get black rings under your eyes. Be a bit conservative with your experimentation - error on the side of caution. Maybe someday you can work up to meditating all night instead of sleeping but take baby steps to make it to that final exam

      4. You should be able to step it up a notch some day by taking it into a lucid dream, AP, or AT. Again, you can read stuff on this forum and elsewhere on the net to get tips about specific tips for the how to.

      ~EnergyWorker~
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      I appreciate the answer EnergyWorker!
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