Falling Asleep in Meditation versus Samadhi
Q: Last time you talked about the difference between sleeping while meditating, and the absence of sensations and content that advanced meditators experience. Could you please talk about that a little more?
I think last time my response to someone’s question about when one falls asleep in meditation, had two answers — one was for the very beginners; the beginners very often experience that sleepiness, that drowsiness as soon as they sit down in meditation. Very often that is because in meditation, when we begin to meditate, immediately what the body requires most comes to the surface. In other words, what we need the most comes to the surface. Very often when people sit down to meditate, they experience certain pains in the body, if there is some kind of health issue in the body, that will let itself known.
For example, you might have the tummy making funny noises, you might have a sensation in the throat, that you suddenly feel as if you want to cough something out; this is not uncommon. It is simply because with greater relaxation, the body immediately begins to repair itself, because what happens in meditation is that there is a realignment of the pranic flow. As we know, all discrepancies in the body — everything, every function in the body, is due to the flow of prana. So, likewise, every disease, illness, or discrepancy is due to the fact that there is improper movement of prana. And prana begins to adjust itself and immediately brings to the surface that which needs to be addressed, that what needs to be rectified. It is the same with that drowsiness, that sleepiness, because if you are deprived of that, if you need rest, if your body hasn’t been resting, if your nervous system hasn’t been resting enough, you will feel that. So, that is for the beginners, so to speak.
For those who are experienced, advanced meditators, the feeling of sleepiness often comes at the very, very advanced, deepest states of meditation, when you are already in that transcendence, when you are already in that very, very deep place — often samadhi to whatever degree. There comes a time when you seem to fall asleep, and it is very pleasant as well, so very often meditators succumb to it. And very often it is accompanied by a beautiful dark night, like the starry sky — not necessarily with stars — but with that pitch-black sensation. What happens, is it simply goes into that area of deep sleep in meditation, because in meditation there are also these transitory phases.
If effort is applied — and this is where the effort is required for the advanced meditators and no one else — then the awareness penetrates through that veil of deep sleep that overcomes the meditator, and arises very often, coming to that area of greater luminosity. And then suddenly, all this drowsiness, all this lethargy, all this falling asleep disappears and you remain very, very alert — but at the same time, in a profound, deep state of samadhi. This is really that moment when a quantum leap literally happens in meditation, and the scriptures talk about it. If the yogi does not succumb to sleep at that stage — and many do — then, he will be taken to the state of bhairava, literally to the state of pure Consciousness, characterized by great luminosity. Very often everything is filled with light, and everything becomes effulgent.
~ Igor Kufayev, Online Darshan transcribed Q&A Costa Rica, August 9, 2014
 Samadhi is a deep state of absorption in meditation which has been described as a transcendent state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object.
 Prana in the context of Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) and Vedic Science, is the subtle essence of air. It is the life force that animates everything; it is in the air we breathe, the food we eat, it is in our bodies, and it is the master intelligence behind all psycho-physiologic functioning.
 Bhairava refers to the state of pure Consciousness, the knowledge of the Ultimate Reality. Bhairava is also a name for that fear-inspiring, formidable and terrifying aspect of Shiva responsible for the creation, sustenance, and dissolution of the universe.