A survey conducted by the respected polling institute IBOPE, released on the 12/11/2013, revealed that 98% of Brazilians feel somewhat or very tired, mentally and physically. They interviewed 1,499 people, including men and women, from 18-65 years, living in Brazilian cities. For 70% of the respondents, the fast pace of everyday life and stress are the main reasons for this. I must admit that I have observed this same phenomena in many other countries.
Almost forty years ago, I learned something that brought a fundamental shift in my life. I realised that quality sleep is much more important than quantity. I trained myself to sleep 5 or 6 hours instead of 8, while actually feeling better. Since that time I have gained more than 3 years that I would otherwise have spent sleeping. I have used that extra time to do many constructive things such as writing this blog! I further understood that the quality of thoughts was the main source of tiredness, that if I could think less and better, I would actually have more energy.
For example, I can work solidly for 12 hours joyfully putting the finishing touches to some creative physical work and not become as worn out as when I'm worried or moping around. I have definitely experienced that through the practice of meditation, I can diminish and even eliminate the wasteful thinking that induces fatigue.
As part of my own personal discipline, I started to get up very early to meditate and take benefit from what is called 'amrit vela' - the 'hours of nectar' in India. This is from 4am to 6am. At that time there is maximum silence in most places in the world. Before getting involved in the world of action, I set my inner state and affirm my intrinsic value. The following is the sort of determination I create in myself: "Whatever happens during the myriad events of the day, I will retain my equanimity. No one and nothing will take away what I am. I am basically a being of peace, love and contentment. People will be as they are. I cannot change them. Situations will come as they come. I will not try to control them. Rather I will control my inner state and through that, influence them positively. Obstacles are opportunities to learn". By consciously practising this I discovered that I could pass through the scenes and scenery, observing when i had to and participating when I had to. I could separate the essential from the useless and thereby reduce the quantity of thoughts. The thing is not to develop methods of rest, but to learn how not to get so tired.
(Next blog: Think less, think better (Part 3))