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Meditation for success: Getting physical readiness.
So you are ready mentally. Mind is not going to be in your way and is usually encouraging you to go for it. It is not just a curiosity. It actually wants to experience the meditation; there is now a thirst. Once the experience, however minor, happens, there starts a pull. A force appears that tends to pull you towards meditating. This phenomenon is totally unique. Your mind might resist before you try out meditation. It might even warn you against even trying meditating. Role of mind becomes negligent once the individual experiences even a minor explosion of meditation. The experience will keep you bringing back. There may be a gap when you do not meditate at all, but, I am sure, “you will be back.”
The following verses from chapter 6 in Bhagavadgita outlines how important moderation in life is.
naty-asnatas tu yogo ‘sti
na caikantam anasnatah
jagrato naiva carjuna
16. Yoga is not possible for him who eats too much or for him who abstains too much from eating: It is not for him, O Arjuna, who sleeps too much or too little.
yogo bhavati duhkha-ha
17. For him who is moderate in eating and recreation, temperate in his actions, who is regulated in sleep and wakefulness, yoga becomes the destroyer of pain.
Let us go over the important aspects touched here:
- Food intake
- Sleep and lack of sleep
- Entertainment (vihara)
Krishna talks a language that applies to all time and all space. There are no “dos” and there are no “don’ts.” He knows that all dos and don’ts are relative. I may need 6 hours of sleep while someone else needs 9 hours of sleep. Both may be right amount of sleep for the concerned individual. Krishna uses a Sanskrit word, “yukta.” Yukta encompasses three English words in one, right quantity, right quality and right mindfulness. Yukta ahar means right quantity of food, right quality of food and staying mindful in the process of eating. It is important to understand and follow these basic principles which are not only important for meditative processes but also important in staying well as well.
Right amount of food intake (yukta ahar)
The number one epidemic in the USA and in many other parts of the developed world is obesity. Krishna says that right amount of food intake is important prerequisite for meditation and yoga. Yoga and meditation is not compatible with successful meditation. This was important in Krishna’s time 5000 years ago and is important now as well. It is obvious that Krishna emphasizes the importance of wellbeing here in any yogic and meditative practices.
Right amount of Sleep
Krishna starts by telling Arjuna that yoga or meditation is not possible for those who sleep too much or are not sleeping enough. The importance of sleep is being recognized lately in wellness researches. Most adults require 7 to 8 hours sleep. While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness.
The effects of sleep deprivation and chronic lack of sleep
- Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
- Moodiness and irritability
- Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
- Inability to cope with stress
- Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections
- Concentration and memory problems
- Weight gain
- Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents
- Difficulty making decisions
- Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems
It is obvious that right amount of sleep is necessary to stay well and staying well is a requirement for happy meditating. I have stated before and I state again, “I recommend meditation for success and not for sickness.” Some will say that meditation will help you sleep better and this is true as well. However, that should not be the primary reason to start meditation. It is better to work on sleep and then start meditation to get ahead in life. We will discuss techniques of meditation that may enhance your sleep and even bring awareness to the deepest parts of sleep as and when we come to discuss different techniques. For now we need to pay attention to our sleep patterns and get the right amount of sleep for our body. You might have already noticed tha sleeping too much is not helpful either.
Right amount of recreation and entertainment (viharasya)
We do more than just sleep and eat. Krishna does not restrict us to a lifestyle. He wants us to live in moderation. Indulgence is not going to help. A Zen master tells group of students, “Zen is being in the present. Being aware, and not doing anything mechanically are the keys. When you eat, you just eat, when you read newspaper you just read news paper.”Next day the student sees that the master was eating while reading news paper and asked him “Master, I thought you said we should not eat while we read newspaper”
Master says, “No! I said, when you eat and read newspaper, you just eat and read newspaper”