If You Think You Can’t Meditate, Here’s Why

by Tiago on May 11

meditationIn my last article, I talked about concentration meditation and its benefits. Now I want to talk a bit more about some obstacles that arise as you try to improve your meditation practice and their solutions. In particular, I’m going to focus on the topics of food and posture.

I’ve noticed that even very smart people who’ve been meditating for a while often miss this simple connection. They just know that at certain points in the day they meditate better. Food and posture are a big deal!

Do you fall asleep when you try to meditate?

In the West, many use meditation to feel more relaxed because their lives contain a lot of stress and certainly, meditation helps with managing stress. But something I’ve noticed is that proper meditation doesn’t make you sleepy or tired at all unless you had a very poor night’s sleep.

Assuming you’re well rested, if every time you meditate you start yawning and getting sleepy, then there are a few possible culprits, with how much sleep you got the previous night being one of them and posture being another one.

Lying down to meditate doesn’t usually work out for me, and many people report the same thing—you’re too relaxed when you’re in sleeping position, and it makes it more difficult to meditate. You should be able to find a comfortable body position that doesn’t make you sleepy after a few practice sessions.

Eventually you’ll figure it out, and you can start meditating without having to shift, shuffle, and move for five minutes before actually starting to meditate. You just sit and within a few seconds, you’re already entering meditation.

Food can make you sleepy.

Now, another possible issue that people often miss is food. This varies between people, but for example, I can’t meditate very well after eating a big meal. My body is in rest and digest mode and it doesn’t want to do much else.

A lot of people can’t meditate very well after eating something with gluten, or meat, or lots of carbohydrates, or sugar, etc. Part of the process of acquiring a proper meditation routine is finding the right time of the day where your body is at its best.

Think of it this way: for a good meditation, you want blood to flow into your brain. But when you’re digesting (and especially if you’re digesting a big meal), according to the US National Library of Medicine, studies show that big meals increase blood flow to the digestive tract and that this can last for 1.5-2 hours.

It’s common sense, right? If you want a great meditation session, do it when your brain is at its best, and don’t position your body in a way that makes it think that you’re going to sleep.

But not all foods are created equally.

I’ve included below a list of foods and their digestion times. This is just a rough guide—it’s more important that you listen to your body than what average digestion times tell you. Nevertheless, some things usually always apply, such as the fact that water, juices, broths or anything that is blended will usually only stay in your stomach for a maximum of 30 minutes. So basically:


Liquids –
10-30 minutes. Water leaves the stomach right away if it’s empty.

Fruit and Vegetables 30-60 minutes. Watermelons digest very quickly. Other fruits, such as cherries and apples, take longer. Root vegetables like carrots take the longest to digest.

Starches and Grains – 60-90 minutes.

Beans and Legumes – 90-120 minutes. Soy beans, for example, take 120 minutes to digest, on average.

Dairy products – Varies. Skim milk digests within 90 minutes, while hard cheese can take up to 5 hours.

Animal products – Varies. Eggs and fish digest fairly quickly, usually in 60 minutes or less. Meat takes longer, with pork taking the longest to digest (5 hours).

Final Thoughts

Just as meditation gives you awareness, you must be aware of what you put into your body and how you situate your body when you meditate. Most people spend about one hour every day eating and drinking—it’s a huge part of our existence. Being mindful of how you’ve prepared your body to meditate can only help.

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Tiago

Tiago uses his forbidden Internet skills to forge the basic framework of the Spiraling Up website. He teaches English in three languages on his English website. He was born in a small city in Portugal and now resides in Barcelona. His personal development journey started in 2006. He eats more lentils for lunch than you eat in a year. He’s also hilarious.

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