Written by The Art of Living Foundation.
A phone is only a phone, until one has packed some intelligence into it so that it becomes smart and powerful. Rest is also only rest, until one has packed some intelligence and awareness into the process to make IT smart and YOU powerful! This kind of smart rest, which is done consciously, is meditation.
For most of us rest means Sleep. Sleep is a universal phenomenon. I have never heard a single debate on whether humans aught to sleep. I don’t think we even have a choice there, for when the body and mind is tired, sleep envelops our consciousness and makes us unconscious, whether we like it or not… approve or disapprove. The body and mind dips into rest, and kick starts all the physical and mental processes of rejuvenation. Any medical doctor will tell us that the physical growth in children takes place when they are sleeping. That could be the reason infant and toddlers sleep so much. Lot of accumulated toxins are eliminated by the body in sleep. Our body has a natural intelligence to heal itself and for most of us sleep is the only opportunity it gets to heal.
All of us have experienced the energy of rejuvenation that comes from a good night’s rest and the energy of depletion that comes from sleepless, troubled nights. A sleepless night is usually followed by lack of energy, irritability, mistakes, lack of clarity or creativity, obsession towards supposedly comfort foods and drinks, incorrect perception/ assessment of situations. If ever there was a devil… that devil is probably you on a sleep-deprived morning. After a few sleepless nights even the smallest goal can be difficult to achieve and even a pious person forgets to be kind!
I talk about sleep because everyone can relate to it and look at reality from a fresh perspective. Although this phenomenon is with us since birth, we have rarely given it enough introspection. Our worldly goals have taken up so much of us that we may have lost sight of the foundation on which it all rests. That foundation is literally rest. The more rested you are, the more successful you can be in every aspect of life.
Now, if you decide to concentrate your sleep, you will experience a concentrated form of rest, which will give you a taste of the panacea of meditation. Simply put, the difference between sleep and meditation is – sleep is relaxing unconsciously and meditation is to relax consciously. Doing any activity consciously, concentrates it. Learning a technique to relax with awareness and consciousness helps one to systematically dive deep into our source – which is abundant with energy, peace, joy and love. Even our most ambitious goals are small compared to the capabilities that our consciousness possesses. We are designed to do big things. But due to lack of knowledge about oneself, we get stressed with even small things in life.
It is said that the rest from a twenty-minute deep meditation is equivalent to four hours of deep sleep. I have been meditating for 9 years, using the Sahaj Samadhi meditation technique and can corroborate this with my own experience. Whatever benefits we have experienced with sleep multiply with meditation. Silence is the mother of creativity and also the seed of all the talents that we aspire for. This does not mean that meditation can replace sleep altogether. A balance of both is needed in our well-being and effectiveness.
Sahaj Samadhi meditation is a mantra-based technique as taught by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Each participant is initiated into a personal mantra (appropriate for him/her) and taught to use it, so that they are able to dive deep into the different layers of their consciousness. Through this process they are able to eliminate all the deep rooted stresses stored within. It comes from the Vedic tradition of masters from ancient ages, who have brought this knowledge to our generation in all its purity. The power of this technique lies in its simplicity and could be the reason why it is gaining popularity all over the world. Sahaj means effortless in Sanskrit (ancient Indian language) and Samadhi means a state of bliss, heightened awareness and peace. This technique can be learned from a trained Sahaj Samadhi instructor and takes 9 hours over 3 days to learn and will last you for a lifetime.
In order to sleep we require a comfortable bed, lights dimmed out, maybe some soothing music, a nice pillow and a prayer of hope that sleep will come! For meditation, you simply need an authentic technique, initiated in a pure tradition and a place to sit and meditate! In this jet age, this seems like a jet solution to realize all our goals happily.
Our phones have become smarter, it is time for us to get smart(er) too.