Falling Asleep during Centering Prayer


Q: I am having a problem falling asleep during Centering Prayer.  It may be attributable to age, but I am almost always dozing off, even in the mornings after a little coffee. I would be very interested, should anyone have come across any possible solutions addressing the problem.  I have asked both clergy and laity alike.

A: One comforting thought for me is  the Dalai Lama is reported to have said that “sleep is the highest form of mediation.”  So I conceive of it as resting fully in the arms of the Beloved.

On a practical note, if we are getting the proper amount of sleep and feel wide awake (coffee does help!) prior to sitting, and we still fall asleep, it may help to NOT close the eyes during prayer.  Just keep a downward gaze (lids 3/4 closed).  Another option is to change your sitting position or location to one that isn’t quite as comfortable.

But remember, Centering Prayer is really about intention and consent.  So if it is your intention to consent to the Divine Indwelling loving you into life (presence and action), then you have done your part.  What happens in the chair (sleep or not) really isn’t your concern.  Have radical, invincible trust in the One who is calling you to the practice.

Best wishes,

Mary Dwyer