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Shaking off tiredness: a stretch for meditation

Overcoming dullness in meditation

Shaking off tiredness

Shaking off tiredness is an important technique for meditators to learn.  Often we rise early to meditate and we may not be fully alert.  Or, we may have worked hard all day and be exhausted when we start to sit.  Dullness is one of the major obstacles faced by practitioners.  Our meditation needs to be fresh. So, what to do?  In this short video clip. Phakchok Rinpoche teaches a simple stretch to students at a public talk in Malaysia.

This technique helps us to wake up and feel refreshed for our meditation.  Here, Rinpoche demonstrates the stretch  from several different angles.  Also, we include shots of the Malaysian students in the audience practicing the stretch. Rinpoche explains that this is a Buddhist yoga technique from the Thai/Burmese border area.

Shaking off tiredness : dealing with dullness

We shouldn’t think that dullness is something we face on our own.  Classical Buddhist texts extensively discuss dullness and its opposite, agitation.  Both of these can hinder our practice. Therefore, it is good to be attentive to our practice and notice when these feelings appear.  Tiredness is sneaky sometimes; we may drift off comfortably into a dull state without being aware.  Instead, if we catch the heavy feeling, we can make use of this technique for shaking off tiredness.

Shaking off tiredness: practice tips

Begin with your feet flat on the floor and the legs straight.  We always begin by raising our hands first to the prayer position in front of our heart. When we extend our hands over our head, we straighten our arms, reaching up. Then, we turn our palms upwards, with the fingers touching–like the images of the laughing Buddha.

Shaking off tiredness
Laughing Buddha with hands extended

Next, we stretch by raising onto our tiptoes. We hold that for a brief moment and then return to the start position.

From there, we bend forward and extend our hands toward the ground–now the palms are facing the floor, and the fingers still touch. Again, we roll up our spines, and extend our arms over the head with the palms facing upward.

If we repeat this exercise three times, as shown in the video, we will feel awake and fresh.  Then we can meditate with a clear mind!

Shaking off tiredness: Physical practices can help our meditation

We have precious human bodies.  And it is important to care for our health and to get proper exercise.  There are many physical practices that can benefit our meditation.  For example, Indian yogis often used specific postures to help them sit in mediation.

For more information, please see our on-line course .  Here you can find a series of postures that enable you to sit more comfortably:

Yoga Āsanas for Sitting Meditation

At the end of the teaching, please remember to dedicate the merit of receiving a Dharma teaching. As you go through your day, take a few moments from time to time to recall these instructions.

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Samye Dharma