View Full Version : can qigong and meditation replace sleep?

09-20-2001, 12:30 AM
this is a genuine question, i see meditation as being very similar to sleeping except you are consious and therefore in control of yourself. if someone can replace sleep with meditation, not every night but whenever they desire then there may be some benefits in terms of time and control of your body.

what do you guys think?

"satisfaction loses,and humility gains"

09-20-2001, 01:48 AM
yes... most definitely

Tibetans sometimes regard sleep as a waste of time. If you are curious, I will post details, otherwise lets leave it as that.

The mind is like a candle flame, blown by the 5 winds of distraction, to the past and future.

kungfu cowboy
09-20-2001, 04:23 AM
From this (http://www.narrows.com/~ajayan/faq.htm) site.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> I'd like to sleep less; will meditation reduce my need for sleep?

It is true that meditation has been shown to slow the metabolic rate to a point much deeper than even the deepest point of deep sleep. This profound rest and relaxation is wonderfully rejuvenating and restorative. Yet, it is not precisely the same quality of rest provided by sleep and dream cycles.
In meditation, though restful, one is also ordinarily completely alert. Further, the brainwave activity during meditation varies from either sleep or dreaming patterns. In a word, meditation and sleep are different states of consciousness; they serve different functions. Sleep cannot provide the benefits of meditation, meditation does not really replace sleep.
Nevertheless, over time, as meditation purifies, refines, and optimizes the functioning of the entire mind/body complex, one is likely to require less and less sleep. Many long-term meditators find that this happens naturally, as body and mind gain energy and function more and more efficiently.

"If do right, no can defense!"----Mr. Miyagi

09-20-2001, 04:42 AM
I have read about advanced yogis/taoist sages who didn't sleep, but I'm definitley not at that level yet! However, if I get, let's say, 7 hours of sleep one night(instead of 8), meditating before I go to bed, or that night, will make me feel less tired in the morning. Once I missed my meditation and didn't get enough sleep, and felt really tired the next morning--much more tired than when I meditate the night before.
However, unless you're a really advanced practitioner(i.e., old mountain-dwelling immortal), I don't think meditation or qigong can replace sleep.

09-20-2001, 05:38 AM
I used to be an insomniac. So it took me 3-4 hours to sleep. Now, it takes me 30 minutes or so, after sitting.

The mind is like a candle flame, blown by the 5 winds of distraction, to the past and future.

09-20-2001, 01:00 PM
yes prana, i am very curious about the tibetin methods of replacing sleep, could you post as much information as you can or point me to a website that has enough info.


"satisfaction loses,and humility gains"

09-21-2001, 10:30 AM
Dream yoga. When a person is in the dream state, the dream body is extremely real. This is called the bardo of sleep. By remaining aware of the process of sleep and dream, the yogin alter dreams, as during the dream state, the mind is extremely "flexible". Also in a dream one can become frightened of death to the "dream body", such as drowning etc. One can dream of actually jumping into the water, and realise that this dream water cannot harm you. This is of course, in preperation for death.

Also sleep yoga, whereby a person is aware of the sleep process. At thsi stage, one is aware throughout the process of sleep and tries to recognise the clear light state of "sleeping". One then remains in this state. During the sleep process, the energy closes into the central channel, and energies move giving the 4 signs of dissolution followed by the skylike signs. These are "mirage, fireflies, sparks, faint candle flame" and the "sky just before dawn, bright white light, and bnright red light". THese stages are similar (but not same) to the death process. One then turns sleep into intense meditation on remaining in the clear light stage whereby the Bodhicitta of "red" and "white" combine at the heart central.

Although I have been practising this for a very long time, I have only achieved slight awareness of sleep, but in theory, this is how one meditates in preperation for the death process.

I have been able to become aware of just falling asleep and control certain reoccuring dreams (possessing dreams), and that has already made me a much happier person....

Also interesting to note, when one is sleeping, the energies tend to abide in the throat and secret chakras, explaining why most men wake up with a *******.

Hope that helps your curiosity. I don't want to get into more detail cause I can see people are getting really disturbed by what I have to say.

The mind is like a candle flame, blown by the 5 winds of distraction, to the past and future.

09-21-2001, 10:52 AM

- Nexus

<font size="1">"Time, space, the whole universe - just an illusion! Often said, philosophically verifiable, even scientifically explainable. It's the <font color="blue">'just'</font> which makes the honest mind go crazy and the <font color="blue">ego</font> go berserk." - Hans Taeger</font>

09-21-2001, 01:26 PM
I have an alternative explanation (to Prana's) for the advent of the proverbial morning glory.

The machinations of the love plumbing are primarily governed by sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous activity according to modern neuroscience. One reason anxiety can lead to a failure to get cranking is because anxiety leads to a increase in sympathetic tone (part of the fight-or-flight type ensemble of neural changes) that is amplified and dispersed by the interconnections of the sympathetic chain running down alongside the spine. An evolutionary explanation for this arrangement might run along the lines of 1)needing blood elsewhere more urgently and 2)not falling over yourself while running from danger ;-) Well anyhow, parasympathetic tone is necessary to stand yourself to attention (it goes along with the rest-and-digest type ensemble of autonomic nervous tone) and that's exactly the sort of tone you get when you're sleeping. Other effects include a drop in blood pressure, heart rate, some constriction of the airways and so on it goes.

Anyhow, that's the western structure-to-function story. What a farce that I had to beat around like that all because I couldn't write "********" on this site.

On the meditation, though, the Maharishi and his transcendental meditators have been claiming for a long time that 20 minutes of meditation in their system is worth 4 hours of sleep. Some of the interesting claims of this group can be reviewed at:

Trancenet (http://www.trancenet.org)

Personally I think meditation is great, but I agree with kungfu cowboy that its benefits (at least for most of us) don't include replacing sleep.

09-22-2001, 02:49 AM

Thanks very much for this :) It is so great to compare modern science with ancient science.

BTW, just for my benefit, could you say more about the process of sleep and related effects, if you have more to add.

09-22-2001, 08:12 AM
Western science is still, to the best of my knowledge, pretty ignorant about the *function* of sleep... at best I think it describes aspects it. I've learnt a whole lot of stuff about circadian rhythms and sleep disorders, but I don't think that's quite the information you're after (though I'll post what I know if you are). Braden might better know the latest on this stuff.

On a related topic, though, the current issue of Consciousness Studies (which is actually more of a newsletter from the Uni of Arizona) carries an article about the relative progress towards an understanding of consciousness that has been made by western scientists and practicing buddhists. It begins with the premise that if there weren't an introspective experience of consciousness there would be no "problem of consciousness". It then goes on to review some of the buddhist experience in investigating this state phenomenologically, and outlines the practice of meditating intensively upon an image before removing that image and being left with the pure experience of consciousness. I guess the prospective point for scientists is that this exercise might separate out a lot of other psychological modes (such as attention and self consciousness) and provide a phenomenological boundry for the essential properties of pure consciousness. That's odd for me to think about academically, because I've always treated consciousness as being intentional, which is a technical way of saying that it is *directed* at an object that has meaning (ie one has "consciousness of ... "). My training has also advocated an approach to this problem from an objective standpoint (which is still being sought, of course) but I think this is an interesting sounding exercise and I think I've actually had the most fleeting of glances of the "pure consciousness" state in my own meditation. Even if that turned out to be a neurochemical function or feedback short-circuit or some such, it would be interesting for a scientist to learn which chemical(s) or which site(s) of action were responsible for this state.

Oddly enough, while meditation seems to sharpen one's awareness in general, I've found some forms of meditation (especially yoga nidra) to temporarilly interfere my capacity for intellectual thought - the world is more vivid when I'm done, but my cognitive brain just won't "come back" from the high. Does your training have anything to say about that?

09-22-2001, 09:44 AM
Again thanks for sharing your knowledge.

When you "wake up" from your meditation, it is because your winds are sitting closer to your three pillars, and hence are not as scattered. Check the way you breath in both situations, when you are on "high" and when you feel "sharpened"

The mind is carried by the wind, for layperson :)

The mind is like a candle flame, blown by the 5 winds of distraction, to the past and future.

09-22-2001, 10:53 AM
The high of meditation... and suddenly everything is calm. No words, no descriptions, just a being. The cognitive mind, the I?

Which I? Who am I? That is the cognitive mind. If you are math oriented, at first you may find things like meditation to seem counterproductive to mathematical computation/cognitive/logical reasoning and such and such. Then you find that it is not such the case, but that it takes on a different level, and a life of its own.

- Nexus

<font size="1">"Time, space, the whole universe - just an illusion! Often said, philosophically verifiable, even scientifically explainable. It's the <font color="blue">'just'</font> which makes the honest mind go crazy and the <font color="blue">ego</font> go berserk." - Hans Taeger</font>

09-22-2001, 10:42 PM
While it may be possibe in advanced stages, this would be more of a byproduct rather than a goal.

Sleep deprivation side effects are not from the lack of rest. You can lie still and calm and attain approx. 80% of the recuperative benefits of sleep in regards to physical rest.

The big value of sleep is in the dream state. The stage of REM sleep (Dreaming occurs during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This has many benefits.

People with sleep disorders have problems here. Loss of REM sleep produces confusion, inability to concentrate, and eventually delusional behavior. So, if you do Qi gong and find you need less sleep, well and good. It is not something you should pursue. Then again, pursuing things is counterproductive in Qi gong anyway.

09-23-2001, 04:14 AM
different meditation technique I am referring to here. I think you are refering to meditating on emptiness - Mahayana tradition. Perhaps this will make more sense...

Songs of Naropa on
Dream Yoga:
At night, strive to invoke the self-purification of confused dreams; Guard the three doors with hook of mindfulness. Retain, purify, increase and transform the contents of dreams, and eliminate all obstacles to the practise.
One rides on the sun and moon, travels to all buddhafields.
And behold! All "good" and "bad" illusions become self-liberated.

Lama Tsongkhapa writes about attaining samadhi via being aware of the sleep process itself, and not using the actual practise of dream yoga.
"Alternatively, during the waking state, one can cultivate samadhi and then when going to sleep can direct it in mindfulness of the dissolution process.
However, the clear light of sleep experienced in this way will not be the fully qualified clear light as described in the trantric treatises. Even if samadhi is directed at the awareness of the view of suchness, it will still only be an experience of clear light as taught on the common path"

09-30-2001, 10:56 PM
If you ever get the chance, check out either "abbot Hai Teng" or "Shaolin Kung Fu". These documentaries feature the Abbot Hai Teng, an astonishing human being who meditates rather than sleeps. He can also do a one finger stand and still has iron body at age 86 (or did when these were made). He is superhuman, I can't imagine even attempting any of it. Plus, consider this: From mastering his finger techniques, his hands are gnarled and huge (a common Shaolin trait). You would have to be willing to do the same thing mentally...