Have you ever felt too tired and worn out to meditate? Of course you have.
Heck, I felt that way this morning. Feeling tired and sleepy can severely hinder your meditation practice.
But it’s important to keep your habit going, so what do you do? Fortunately you can learn to work with your drowsiness to push through that fatigue and still have a great meditation session.
Here are my go-to ways to meditate when I’m tired.
1. Do some quick exercise
A few pushups, burpees, jumping jacks or sit-ups can really get the blood flowing and keep your mind alert. My usual wake up routine is 20 pushups, 20 sit ups and 2 min of light stretching.
Try a short 2-3min exercise before you sit. It doesn’t need to be anything super difficult or time intensive, just get yourself moving. Once you get your heart rate up you’ll find it much easier to focus on your meditation.
2. Listen to a guided meditation
When you’re tired it can feel nearly impossible to motivate yourself to focus on your meditation.
Listening to someone else guide you through takes out that extra mental effort. There are countless free guided meditations on Youtube and apps like Insight Timer. My favorites are this 15 Minute Morning Meditation on Youtube and Letting Go of Seriousness on Insight Timer.
I am affirmations like this one are also great to keep your mind engaged and inspired.
3. Avoid soft furniture
If you’re tired, sinking into a comfy couch or chair is only going to make things worse.
Find a place to meditate that forces you keep good posture. Sit forward in a chair so you’re not leaning on the backrest or find a cushion and sit on the floor.
I like to sit on a zafu like the one pictured below. That posture is not for everyone and it does take some time to get used to, but once you get comfortable it naturally keeps you upright and awake.
Whatever position you choose, keeping your muscles engaged with good posture is an excellent way to keep your mind alert.
4. Focus on a mantra
Keep your mind engaged by silently repeating a short mantra while you meditate.
It could be a traditional Buddhist mantra like “Sat, Chit, Ananda”, something more modern like “I am enough” or whatever you choose.
Focusing on a mantra gives your mind something more interesting to do and keeping your mind focused keeps the meditation going.
5. See it as an opportunity to practice acceptance
Sometimes you’re just tired and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Instead of worrying that your drowsiness is ruining your meditation, try to see it as an opportunity to practice acceptance.
Explore your tiredness.
Where do you feel it physically? Is it constant or does it come and go? Get curious about however you’re feeling. Try to let go of the need to be productive. If you find yourself nodding off, let that be okay.
If you need some guidance, I highly recommend Matthew Young’s Meditation for a Tired Body & Mind. It is the best guided meditation for when I just don’t want to meditate. It almost feels like cheating to explore such deep relaxation and just accept however tired I feel. After listening to it a few dozen times, it has really transformed my daily practice.
Tiredness is a common hurdle to overcome with any meditation habit. Don’t let it dissuade you from keeping your practice consistent. Follow these tips to help you stay alert or simply learn to accept yourself just the way you are.
Either way, enjoy the journey.