Sheng Yen

Sleeping Yoga from "Essential Chan Buddhism"

As you meditate and sleep less, the quality of your sleep improves. You sleep more deeply. And when you’re sleeping, you feel more peaceful and stable. You can even meditate as you sleep. We call this “sleeping yoga.”
 This involves actually bringing your awareness into sleep. For example, I was once on retreat with Master Sheng Yen in Pine Bush. After we were through meditating for the day, I went back to my room and lay down. I assumed the auspicious posture, common in Theravada tradition, of the sleeping Buddha. I reclined on my right side, with my legs one on top of the other and tucked up a little bit. This posture is good for sleep. You’re not pressing your heart by lying on your left side or your spine while lying on your back. If you snore, it is also a good posture and can help reduce the sound.
 I was counting my breath, a form of meditation practice. I relaxed my whole body and counted my breath: one, two . . . and then three. But I had a strange feeling and looked at the clock. Five hours had passed between the counts of two and three!


Those five hours passed in an instant. It wasn’t normal sleep where the mind grows dark. My mind was clear and light, as if I were still meditating. I slept from about 10:30 pm to 3:30 am. Tok, tok, tok went the sound of the wood “waking” board at four.
 That day, I told Master Sheng Yen about taking the auspicious posture and the experience that followed. He just smiled.
 “You had a good sleep,” he said.
Guo Jun, „Essential Chan Buddhism”