Second Impediment: Why do I feel drowsiness and leg pain when practicing in the Meditation Hall, even though everything feels fine during my meditation routine at home?Drowsiness is most obvious phenomena arising in practitioners during Chan retreats, as participants usually feel fatigue on the first few days of retreats. Once their physical and mental fatigue is gradually relieved in the following days, participants will be able to focus better on their practice. Drowsiness is a sign of accumulated fatigue in our normal daily lives, which overstrains our body and mind without an adequate amount of relaxation to recharge.
Let's try to observe ourselves: when we are in good spirits, is our body and mind tensed? For example, every time we work on the computer, we should take a break every thirty minutes. Instead, however, we usually work continuously for an hour or two. In fact, we have already over-exerted our brain without realizing our own fatigue. During meditation, it is only natural to feel drowsy when we relax and settle, as our body and mind begin to revert back to their natural states of rest. Hence, if we can constantly maintain a peaceful, settled and relaxed mind, we are less likely to become drowsy when we meditate.
When we practice meditation at home, it is usually for an hour or two per day at the most, while the rest of our time is spent on other activities. However, during a typical seven-day Chan retreat schedule, attendees engage in morning meditation after completing the Eight-Form Moving Meditation followed by morning service, breakfast, cleanup chores or collective work (chupo, in Chinese). After this, practitioners spend extended periods of time in seated position while listening to Dharma talks and additional meditation practices. As a result, most of the day is spent in the crossed-legged posture. While this may not pose as a problem on the first day of retreat, repeating this routine for a few days and for longer periods is bound to cause one to experience leg pain. Therefore, we encourage everyone to massage sore muscles and do stretching exercises after meditation, in order to improve circulation of vital energy and relieve muscle aches.
Practice Chan Without Vexations
First Impediment: How to deal with leg pains, soreness, aches, itchiness, and numbness while meditating?
Second Impediment: Why do I feel drowsiness and leg pain when practicing in the Meditation Hall, even though everything feels fine during my meditation routine at home?
Third Impediment: Inability to Relax the Chronically Tense Body?
Fourth Impediment: Inability to Stop Unending Delusional Thoughts
Fifth Impediment: Meditation Makes Me Very Irritable, and Unable to Settle Down
Resource: Issue 383 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 383 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Translation: Shu-jen Yeh (葉姝蓁)
Editing: Cheng-yu Chang (張振郁), Keith Brown