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Automatic English For The People

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sleepy Resistance

by AJ

Listen To This Podcast

This week I've encountered a new obstacle to Spanish study-- sleepiness. Every afternoon after work, I come home and pop in the iPod headphones. For the last couple of weeks, I've had great concentration and focus. But this week, something happened. After about 15 minutes of listening/reading/studying, I find myself getting sleepy. My mind gets sluggish. I've tried downing coffee, but it hasn't worked.

I've been getting enough sleep, so what's happening?

Turns out I have encountered this problem before-- when meditating. During a 10 day Vipassana meditation course I took, I hit a period where I was constantly sleepy. I'd sit down to meditate feeling energetic, but 5 minutes after starting I'd feel tired. I would have to struggle to keep my eyes open.

The meditation instructor (Goenka) explained this phenomenon. He said it was a common problem and was a form of ego-resistance to the meditation. Basically, your conscious/social mind, for whatever reason, starts to sabotage your efforts. Goenka suggested that we work through the challenge-- and try hard to keep our focus. He predicted that if we did so, we'd eventually develop greater mental concentration and endurance and the sleepiness would go away. As he predicted, after three days of struggle this problem went away.

So perhaps this is a good sign- a sign that I've reached a mental limit and am now trying to push past it. I know that there is nothing to do but keep trying. I know that if I refuse to surrender to this kind of lazy-sleepiness, I will eventually develop greater concentration and endurance.

In the meantime, I'm trying to do more walking while I listen.. to keep my mind and body awake. I also take more frequent breaks, but I always try to return again to studying.

In time I hope for a breakthrough-- and an end to the sleepiness.


San Francisco, CA

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