now that I have a cushion that does not put my legs to sleep I can pay more attention to the phenomenon of sitting itself, and it is beginning to be a puzzle as to how to sit without falling asleep. they teach beginners to count your breath and not to block any thought that occurs to you, but to let it go as quickly as it comes, without dwelling on it or losing yourself in it. at all times you should try to remember to come back to counting your breath.
counting breath is a way of focusing on it as a physical action in which you bring the exterior to meet the interior, which is the way of biology, and although focusing on my breath does not put me to sleep, counting it does. I might as well be counting sheep: I tend to focus on the procession of numbers rather than the procession of breath, letting all my other thoughts become fragmented and momentary as I automatically count off the numbers from one to ten and then start over, and before you know it I'm slipping off into alpha stage. in fact letting my thoughts become fragmented and momentary is a technique I've used for years to put myself to sleep at night.
well it works really well at putting me to sleep while sitting, too. so I'm trying something a little different now with the breath: instead of counting it I'm just Paying Attention to it, feeling it come in, feeling it go out, and this tends to spread my conscious thought across my body until I am more or less composed of an outline in space exposed on all sides and this doesn't put me to sleep--unless, at the same time, I am consciously cuttting my thoughts off from narratively completing themselves. I think in words more than pictures when I am wide awake, so cutting thoughts short puts me right back into alpha stage sleep even though I am not counting my breath anymore. so my question now is should I allow my thoughts to complete themselves when they arise, and then dismiss them without dwelling on them?
I tend to spend about half my time in this state not really thinking but just feeling my body in space, but the other half of the time the inner monologue is going, and if I try to break it up, I fall asleep. that's really the crux of the problem. I don't know how to 'not think' without losing consciousness, or rather I don't know how best to deal with the inner monologue once it starts up, since cutting thoughts short results in sleep.
anyway. I suppose I should find a zen forum to ask about this.