Sleep – we need it, but how much? If we don’t get enough sleep, we become tired and exhausted, and our spiritual life suffers; if we sleep too much, we become torpid and lethargic, and our spiritual life suffers.

Sri Chinmoy wrote: “When we have established inner peace, we diminish our need for sleep, because peace itself is rest.” To reduce our sleep, it is extremely beneficial to meditate last thing before going to bed at night. Much of our sleep time is not needed by the body, but for the mind to unwind and release its built-up stress and tension. When we empty and purify the mind prior to sleeping, we can enter sooner into a deep and fulfilling sleep, and require less of it. We then awaken sooner, refreshed and energised. The deeper we meditate, the less sleep we need, the less time we are disconnected from our conscious aspiration, the more value we retain from our meditation, the faster we progress.

Then when we awake, meditate first thing after washing and energising the body. Though it may feel that we are starting our journey again from the very beginning, it is not really so. It is like returning to yesterday’s food: the meal has already been cooked and prepared, now it just needs to be reheated, like a curry that has a better and fuller flavour on the second day. The tap of inspiration needs to be carefully turned back on, the engine of aspiration re-started, the book of meditation re-opened.

Focus on breathing and simple concentration exercises for a while until you feel the presence of your spiritual heart and the blossoming of gratitude, then pick up the thread from your previous evening’s meditation to continue your spiritual journey, full speed ahead.