[ Uposatha ]
Further Reports on Observing Uposatha
That's "observing" not "keeping"! I guess I am getting old and I started on this late. I have managed, since beginning this effort, to keep the Wakeful Watch completely twice. The rest of the time, including last night (4/1/01), I have had to settle for the very little sleep alternative. 4 hours is plenty, (I have managed with 1-1/2; last night was 3; I suspect the key will be 20 minutes or a nap) and I suppose that is not all that unrespectable.
I am coming out with this for two reasons: First, I do not wish to create the illusion, by recommending the observance of Uposatha, that I have mastered this discipline; Second, by stating absolutely that even with this half-assed observance of mine the benefits are tremendous, I do wish to encourage others to make the effort.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that when I fail the full routine I have not been subjected to self-criticism and shame; in fact the reverse has been the case: an inner sense of well-being is the dominant sensation, but the main benefit that I can point to is the positive psychological effect of actually making an effort.
Give it a go, folks!
Face the enemy!
PS: A couple more points:
When faced with an overwhelming desire to sleep at 8:00 in the evening of a few weeks back, I realized that it was my stubborn nature rebelling against being told what to do, so I told it: No forced requirements here, do the best you can. And that seemed to make doing a fair job easier.
The one meal deal contributes to the ease of the no sleep thing; and the lighter the one meal, the easier the wakefulness.
It has been a complication specific to me that I went public with this so that I am now not only dealing with the actual problem, but the secondary thoughts of what people will think (again, my stubborn nature rebels). I recommend you keep your practice to yourself!
One more thing: I am convinced now that there must be considerable health benefits to this practice: I have been blowing off mucus since early last evening, and this has been the case every time I have done this so far. Cleaning out the old tubes!
And Again, Deeper than that!
I have found it helpful in my practice, and others may find it helpful to set as a goal for this wakefulness discipline the ability to put it to use 7 days a week. This has taken the emphasis off the accomplishment of 100% wakefulness during one night, and placed it on greater wakefulness every night. (Again, for me, the less it looks to me like I am forcing myself into a ritual, the greater I seem to cooperate.)
Now also this: This is a practice for lay folks, folks! This one is directed at us. Any one of you out there that is plowing ahead in your sitting practice or Dhamma study and neglecting this practice is, as they say, putting the cart before the horse.
V: I think it is a good idea to share one's experiences. It is helpful for us who have no teacher, who are practicing this system alone to feel that they are not alone after all. There is no need to fear what others think. Personally, I have a high respect for those rare individuals who make honesty a priority.
Sleep is an obstacle for me as well. I've been able to stay awake only once and it was extremely difficult to do alone. I've been trying to think of ways to motivate myself to endure the evening, but have found that attempting this alone is next to impossible for me and have pretty much given up hope.
I thought suggestions is what I was giving above!
Try starting at the lame end of the practice: go to bed at your usual time and get up earlier — do that for a few weeks; observe yourself and what makes you tick. I know for a fact that when I am really interested in something I can work all night and not even notice it. So what makes the difference? What being, is it so tough to stay up. For me, as I said, the foremost barrier seemed to be a rebellious streak: nobody's going to force me to stay up all nite ... but as usual the devil overplayed his hand by trying to force me to sleep several hours earlier than usual.