My friend Apech writes: “I’m interested in your technique … waking up and falling asleep but I am a bit unsure exactly what to do. Could you explain a bit more.”
I think humbleone quoted the most relevant part of “Waking Up and Falling Asleep”:
In my experience, the practice is the same, whether I am waking up or falling asleep: when I realize my physical sense of location in space, and realize it as it occurs from one moment to the next, then I wake up or fall asleep as appropriate.
This is probably easier at 3am or 4am in the dark than any other time of day, I don’t know why. If you want, you can experiment with the practice I describe in “The Mudra of Zen” to help get the sense of location at first; that would be trying to feel pitch, yaw, and roll right where your awareness is located. So, if your awareness seems to be in your head, look for pitch, yaw and roll there; if it’s in your hand, ditto. For me there’s an interesting side-effect to setting up mindfulness of the three planes of motion at the location of awareness, and that is that my awareness often moves to accommodate a feeling for all three planes. As soon as it becomes a strain, I let go of that mindfulness, though.
Sometimes it takes a repeated effort, if you are having trouble falling asleep, to come back to the physical location of awareness, and follow that from one instant to the next.
In waking up, same practice. The second quote that humbleone found concerns the fact that there’s an interplay between being able to follow the sense of location and being absorbed in a pattern of awareness or thought, and this becomes evident for me when I follow my sense of location in the daytime:
Although the placement of consciousness must be spontaneous for the two involuntary respiratory systems to coordinate naturally, it may well be that a pattern will develop in the placement of consciousness for a period of time. Gautama the Buddha referred to the development of such a pattern as ‘the sign of the concentration’.
Such a pattern unfolds of its own accord, and is never exactly the same twice. The key to accepting and relinquishing such a pattern is the feeling connected with its occurrence, and the knowledge that the pattern serves the cranial-sacral system’s response to the necessity of breath.
Restating that last, the key to accepting my own thoughts when I sit meditation is, for me, accepting the role of the pleasant feeling of absorption. The feelings of stretch have a balance, in the feeling of absorption, and the thoughts and dreams come out of that- but the well-being connected with the sense of location in awareness is subtle:
At some point, acknowledging what I feel as consciousness occurs becomes a part of the place of occurrence of consciousness. The acknowledgement of what I feel follows from the sense of well-being in the experience of the place of occurrence of consciousness.
If I remember that my thoughts and dreams came out of absorption connected with place, I can return to where I am with feeling.
Maybe try the sense of location when you’re falling asleep, if you aren’t out like a light- I think that’s the easiest way to pick it up, from moment to moment.