Sleep v.s. Meditation


Hello divine yogis. I have a problem with being awake when I try to practice my sadhana past the midnight hour. At times I end up sleeping, or even when I force myself to remain awake, it isn’t as effective as it should be. What pains me is that I’m losing the most precious hours to sleep instead of being the most divine hours. What should I do to be strong enough? Thank you.

—Kailash, India


Dear Friend,

In this busy and troubled world of ours, stimulated by cell phones, TV, noise, traffic, pollution and just plain too many people and too much stuff and too much to do, we must take into account the realities we face. We do not live a simple, village life; nor yet reside in a forest hermitage or Himalyan cave.

Thus, while it is a great tradition that yogis meditate between midnight and dawn, not all of those yogis had day jobs!!!! (Some did, like Lahiri Mahasaya!) The path, Krishna tells us in the Gita, is not for those who sleep too much or too little.

So you must find a sustainable balance. Consider how you spend the hours of the evening and see if you can’t discontinue activities earlier in the evening in order to meditate earlier, and/or go to sleep early enough so that, perhaps, you arise earlier than most people to meditate before dawn.

Experiment with this. Much depends on whether you are married, have children, or parents also in the home. You must attend to your business duties and family obligations yet these should never be an excuse NOT to engage in your sacred sadhana. Again: it is a balancing act.

Indeed, our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, described the spiritual life and path as one of running down the street while juggling. “The minutes are more important than the hours or days.” Even when engaged in business or family life, in your heart you can chant: “God, God, God!” (or the Gayatri or Om Guru!).

So, experiment and find a balance that can sustain your health, clarity of mind and yet feed your inner peace with God’s presence! Grace must furnish you what your dharma and karma cannot. Krishna says: “To my devotees, I will make good your deficiencies and render permanent your gains!”

Joy and blessings, God alone,

Nayaswami Hriman