“We feel we are tired
At every moment.
We are never tired enough
To close our mind-door.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Tiredness, like age, is mostly a phenomenon of the mind. More often than not, we ‘feel tired’ because we imagine we are, or think we ought to be tired. We can all recall instances when we felt we were dog tired, then received a phone call, or saw, remembered or imagined something that instantly revived us, after which we continued with surging energy and enthusiasm. If tiredness can so utterly abandon us, we have to wonder: was it real in the first place?
Sri Chinmoy’s simple antidote to tiredness is to switch activities, and thus refresh our mindset.
The mind is naturally inclined towards order and fixity, with a tendency to become closed and stale, so our thoughts and feelings inevitably grow heavy and monotonous: tiredness ensues as a cry to escape from this tedium. To conquer or counter tiredness, we must challenge our mind’s very nature, re-train it to open always to newness, freshness and enthusiasm. Only the sincere practise of meditation over many years, can alter the mind so profoundly.
The irony of feeling “too tired to meditate” is that nothing tires us more than thoughts, and nothing clears away these unwanted, draining thoughts as effectively as meditation. We need to meditate in order to access the energy, clarity and inspiration we need to meditate! Not meditating when we feel tired is a false economy, for failing to meditate only guarantees we will remain tired for longer.
Meditation clears our mind, refreshes our emotions and opens us to all the uplifting qualities and energies of our heart. Meditation awakens us to our possibilities and inspires us dynamically to pursue our dreams.
Here are a few more tips for a wakeful early morning meditation –
DON’T engage with the outside world before your morning meditation: if possible, don’t speak to anyone, consume any information, check any messages or look at the internet until your morning meditation is complete and assimilated. Engaging with the world only invites the world’s problems and distractions into us and entrenches our perceived tiredness.
DON’T meditate on or next to your bed. Having just emerged from it, our bed not only symbolises sleep, it still carries the vibrations of our sleep: its presence and proximity can exert a tidal pull, beckoning us to return to its enticing nest. The further we are away from our place of sleep, the better. Making our bed immediately after we get up is also a simple, symbolic act that reinforces the message to ourselves that we have cast off the sleep world and are now embracing the wakeful, alert, dynamic flow of our new day.
Last thing at night, write a list of inspiring reasons to start your next morning bright and early with meditation. Then read your list the moment you get up. You can even use the same list time and again.
Bookend your sleep with meditation. While meditating for a few minutes before you go to bed, consciously imagine your meditation continuing and expanding the next morning. Promise to your heart that you are taking a brief time-out, and will return to take up and continue where you have left off. Place an imaginary bookmark in your meditation, to “save” the place you have reached. Then when you awake, you will feel the pull of your previous night’s meditation, calling you to make good your promise and fulfil its unfinished course.
Imagination has tremendous power: use it to your advantage. Imagine your house is on fire and your morning alarm is a real fire alarm; or a ghoulish monster is coming to devour you if you stay in bed one moment longer; or you will be rewarded with infinite inspiration, satisfaction and bliss if you get up to meditate this very moment.
Another ‘trick’, especially useful when you have to get up after just a brief sleep, is to imagine you have already slept for a full 24 hours. This cannot be just an idle thought: you must firmly believe you have been in your bed, sound asleep, for 24 hours and you are now fully surcharged with all the benefit of complete rest and rejuvenation. Returning to bed is now out of the question!
Take some simple exercise for a few minutes – stretching, a few yoga poses or a light jog – to awaken the physical heart and get your blood flowing. Imagine that pure light is flowing through your veins and nerves, from your core to your furthest extremities and with this light comes spontaneous dynamic energy, inspiration and aspiration surcharging your whole being, inner and outer.
Water symbolises consciousness. Taking a shower not only refreshes and cleanses us physically: water activates our consciousness. Immersing ourselves in water, our conscious awareness is mobilised and invigorated. We are invariably much more alert after a shower – even a cold shower if necessary! If we cannot take a shower, it is essential to at least wash our face, as even this contact with water can tremendously awaken and invigorate us. It is helpful also to drink a glass of water, hot or cold, either straight or with lemon or your favourite “wake-me-up” tonic.
We know it is essential to meditate every day. And to be sure of meditating every day, it is of paramount importance to meditate at a set time, preferably early in the morning.
Yet early in the morning is usually when we are asleep, or just waking up, so it is inevitable that we are all going to face occasions when we feel we are too tired to meditate. The urge to roll over and go back to sleep can at times loom as an irresistible, overpowering force.
So – how to overcome this temptation and be sure we sit down to meditate? And, having committed to meditate, how to cast aside our tiredness to get the most from our meditation?
Meditation requires our alertness, and alertness requires that we be awake. We imagine that we first wake up, then get up, yet Swami Vivekananda’s famous injunction is: “Arise, awake!” Significantly, “arise” comes first, for fully waking up will not and cannot occur unless and until we are out of bed, upright and moving.
If you rely on an alarm, get into the habit of jumping out of bed the moment the alarm sounds – never hit the snooze button! Our mind will always try to persuade us that we need just 5 minutes more sleep – yet this so easily becomes 10, 20 or 30 minutes.
Have your alarm on the other side of the room so you have to physically get up to turn it off, then have a set routine to awaken your body and mind which you can follow on “auto-pilot” while you emerge from your vulnerable state of semi-slumber. This routine might involve simple stretching, repeating a mantra or affirmation, or walking to the kitchen to put the kettle on.
It is said: “Never put off till tomorrow, what can be done today.” More than anything, this applies to aspiration, meditation, self-transformation, perfection and God-realisation.
All day, every day, we detour and delay; we postpone, prevaricate and procrastinate our inner journey.
We meditate because we have already learned the supreme lesson – everything we seek, is already within us. What then, are we waiting for? What possible justification can there be for delay?
Truth be told, even though we know infinite peace, light and bliss await us, we are afraid. Though we are not happy with our present lives, we fear the unknown, and so resist change. Better to stay in the prison cell of our finite awareness, than to leap from the cliff of the known into the infinite unknown. So, for today, we delay.
Also, we feel unworthy. We have done so many wrong things, thought so many negative thoughts, failed so many times in so many ways: how can we possibly deserve the bliss of liberation, the rapture of enlightenment? Surely these rewards are for some future self, if at all. So, for today, we delay.
And, we assume we have eternity at our disposal. We are told the journey of self-discovery is so long and arduous; there is so much hard work ahead of us, and at the same time, we are assured that some day, we shall inevitably reach the goal. So, for today, we delay.
To embrace today is to launch into action: wholehearted, unreserved, consecrated action. In action alone is our salvation.
To embrace today is not only advisable; it is indispensable – for delay equals decay. Decay imperils tomorrow, delay kills today.
Today means – no delay,
there is only ever today.
There is no point placing a pot on the stove unless the stove is switched on. Without heat, your food won’t cook by itself. Sitting down, focusing and going through the motions of our meditation practice, is like preparing a meal and placing the pot on the stove. For our meditation to become a delicious cooked meal, we also need the heat of inspiration.
Sri Chinmoy writes:
“It is better to meditate well once a day in the morning, and to leave it for the rest of the day, than to sit five or six times a day with your eyes closed and just have pleasant thoughts drifting through your head.
“Some people meditate three times, four times, six times a day. But I wish to say the number is of no consequence. If you feel really inspired, meditate twenty times. But if you don’t feel any inspiration, then you are wasting your precious time and just deceiving yourself. Each time you meditate you have to offer your heart’s breath and your soul’s light that you are bringing to the fore. Only then is it worth meditating. Otherwise, you are just insulting your soul’s possibilities.”
But what if inspiration is lacking?
Like our stove, inspiration has to be switched on –
Speak with a spiritual friend who has implicit faith in you: they will inspire you. Vividly recall your own best meditation and other spiritual experiences: your own memories will inspire you. Take time to read the writings of spiritual Masters: their words of truth, beauty, power and joy will sound the bell of inspiration to reverberate within your heart. Sing spiritual songs: the bird of inspiration will fly in your heart-sky.
Now your stove is switched on, you’re ready to cook and enjoy a delicious meditation-meal.
Intuitively, we feel we have a soul – though we only sense our soul as a vague presence, light, power or assurance: we have not seen our soul, and have no direct access to our soul.
Yet our soul is supposedly our only true reality, our inmost, highest, incorruptible eternal self. How then, to connect with this one essential part of our being, with which we have no open line of communication?
Our window to the soul is our spiritual heart: this window opens the moment we silence the mind.
“Thought is from the mental world. But you also have the heart, the identification-world. When you remain in the heart, that means that you are identifying yourself with the soul. The soul is beyond ideas, beyond thought. Instead of concentrating on the mind proper, if you can focus all your concentration on the heart, then the reality that looms large inside the heart automatically gives you an access to the soul. If you concentrate and meditate on the reality that is inside the heart, this reality comes forward. So always try to meditate on the heart and try to bring the soul to the fore. The soul, which is a direct representative of God, is the eternal reality in us.”
– Sri Chinmoy
How do we meditate on the heart? By inviting and focussing only on the divine qualities of the heart: peace, love, light, joy, oneness and satisfaction – and banishing all else.
Our heart is the moon to our soul-sun. While we cannot look directly at the sun, we can gaze endlessly and adoringly at the moon. Loving our moon-heart more and ever more, we increasingly know and gradually grow into the source of all its myriad beauty, sweetness, subtlety, light, power and delight – our soul.
Has to be man’s
Only true occupation.”
– Sri Chinmoy
When asked: “What do you do?”, or when required to list our occupation, we generally respond with our profession: “I am a bank manager”, “I’m a student”, “I peel potatoes”, “I’m unemployed”.
Yet to equate our occupation with a profession is entirely inadequate, and barely scratches the surface of our outermost being. Once we launch into meditation and the spiritual life, our all-consuming occupation becomes our ever-climbing aspiration and wholehearted dedication – to the search for inner and outer peace, for happiness, truth, self-conquest, life-transformation, integral perfection and God-satisfaction. This occupation does not switch on and off. It is a ceaseless quest, subsuming and transcending all our thoughts, emotions and activities; a quenchless cry, renewing and intensifying with each breath and heartbeat.
As a spiritual seeker, we must acknowledge to ourselves that while our profession plays an essential role in our outer life, it can never define us. It is our inner occupation – our devoted quest for peace, love, light and bliss – that defines us, informs and proclaims who and what we are, shapes what we shall become, achieve and offer to the world.
To a spiritual seeker, one’s outer profession is irrelevant. Infinitely better to sweep the streets with a pure mind and selfless heart, than to rule a nation amid fearful worries and torturing doubts.
At every moment, let our mantra be: “I am a truth-seeker and God-lover.”
The outer life flows ever from the inner life. Regardless of our profession, when our occupation is inner aspiration and outer dedication, then and only then shall our outer life blossom with meaning, value and fulfilment.
Next time we are asked, let us join with Sri Chinmoy in declaring:
“My inner occupation is silence. My outer occupation is surrender.”
“When you meditate,
If thoughts are flocking,
Then try to imagine
That God Himself is rocking
– Sri Chinmoy
God is our highest Self. Whatever we experience, God is experiencing in and through us. If thoughts are bothering us and disturbing our meditation, they are bothering and disturbing God; they are blocking us from communicating and connecting with our God within, our own Source.
God wants and needs this conscious, open connection, infinitely more than we are aware that we need this conscious, open connection. And God has the capacity – easily – to dismiss our thoughts. So, since God is the One who most wants and needs for our thoughts to be brought under control, the simplest solution is to offer God the task.
For God to take care of our thoughts, all we need is to let go of our thoughts, and offer them to God. The easiest way to let go of thoughts is to remove our focus from them; the easiest way to remove our focus from thoughts is to focus on something more appealing and compelling. There is nothing and no one more appealing and compelling than God.
Just by thinking of God – God’s Peace, Light and Delight; focusing on God – God’s Beauty, Sweetness and Intimacy; concentrating on God – God’s Mastery, Mystery and Transcendence; invoking God – God’s Fulness, Perfection and Satisfaction; meditating on God – God’s Love, Compassion and Forgiveness – all our thoughts are obliterated.
“It is not your mind
That is more changeful
Than the tide.
It is not even your thoughts
That are more changeful
Than the tide.
It is your love of God
That is more changeful
Than the tide.”
– Sri Chinmoy
To control and transcend the mind and thoughts, ignore the mind and thoughts: just love God – more, evermore.
Thoughts are intermediaries between ourselves and reality; mental instruments we employ to perceive, comprehend and make sense of our jumbled, confusing world. Our minds assume there is no other way of knowing.
Yet above and beyond the mind, the Light of Truth is self-revealing within us: our intuition perceives and knows all, no need of any intermediary. Thoughts are superfluous, redundant; lead weights to a butterfly.
Sri Chinmoy writes:
“When we are in the highest meditation, there will be no thoughts, either good or bad. There it is only light. Now, in light, Vision and Reality are together. Now, you are sitting there and I am standing here. You are the reality. I am the vision. I have to look at you. You are the reality. Then, I have to enter into you in order to know that you are the reality. But, when you do the highest meditation, at that time it is not like that. Reality and Vision are one and the same. Where you are, I have to be. Where I am, you have to be, because we are one. So, in the highest meditation, Reality and Vision go together. That is why we do not need thoughts or ideas or anything. First a thought enters into us. Then we give it form. Then we come to understand what is going on, or what we are talking about. But, when you see the truth, when you see the Knowledge and the Knower and the Thing that is to be known all together, then it is the highest type of meditation.”
– Sri Chinmoy
This highest meditation is already within us. With all our heart and soul, let us hurl ourselves continually upward to our highest: thoughts and their burdens will be abandoned far below.
“Don’t be discouraged.
As almost every good thought
Had a bad past,
Even so, every bad thought
Can have a good future.”
– Sri Chinmoy
The most potent disinfectant and protection from thoughts, is the experience of thoughtless meditation. Here is a chicken and egg: to meditate, we need to clear away thoughts; to clear away thoughts, we need to meditate.
To improve our ability to clear thoughts along with our capacity to meditate, we throw ourselves into both practises concurrently. They go hand in hand.
Who would give up a sumptuous meal in return for a dry cracker, swap a tropical paradise for a cold prison cell, or trade their Porsche for a square-wheeled wooden push cart?
When we are immersed in the beauty, clarity, purity, wonder, liberating vastness and timeless radiance of meditation, the challenge of ridding ourselves of thoughts no longer arises. In pure meditation, we would as soon engage with thoughts as we would snuggle in a nest of scorpions. Thoughts are anathema to pure meditation: redundant, powerless, empty husks, they dissolve in peace, disappear in light, evaporate in bliss.
We cannot attain a perfect score in ten pin bowls without knocking down all the pins: the pins themselves play a crucial role in our success, by their very obstinacy.
Unless thoughts are present, they cannot be challenged; and unless challenged, cannot be overcome; until overcome, we can never attain pure meditation – let alone self-mastery, our nature’s perfection and the fulfilment of our potential – not to mention liberation, enlightenment, satisfaction and God-realisation.
The presence of thoughts spurs us to transcend and rise beyond them. Use thoughts as your incentive and aspiration-fuel. Challenge them now and always. Accept each thought as a blessing, for beyond thought-barrier, all our goals beckon – known, unknown and unknowable.
“Each thought that you have is like a tiny drop in either the ocean of darkness or the ocean of light. If it is an aspiring thought, it is trying to feed you with affection, sweetness and love. If it is a desire-filled thought, it is only trying to bind you, blind you, capture you and devour you.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Thoughts are intimately connected with desire: thoughts and desires both attach us to, and enmesh us in the finite and the unreal. They direct us away from the destination of happiness and fulfilment, our infinite soul, our true self. Desires enlist thoughts to aid them in their purpose, then clothe, embellish, intensify and propagate themselves with thoughts. Both come to us disguised as friends, mentors, even saviours, and we embrace them as such. Thoughts and desires alike stand as barriers fencing us inside our egos, and together expressly prohibit our entry into deeper meditation.
How tempting then, to ascribe blame to thoughts, desires, and to the mind itself, which nurtures both these antagonists. If we could only dispense with the mind, these destructive forces would have no harbour to dock their ships and unload their treacherous cargo.
Thoughts, desires and the mind itself are neutral: our problems arise from our attachment to, and identification with these phenomena. As we rush to embrace and claim thoughts and desires as our own, they claim us. By this same trade, Dr Faust sold his soul to the devil: we exchange infinite potentiality, for passing sensations and fleeting power.
We will always need the mind as our soul’s ideally suited instrument to live and operate in the world. To reject the mind is to throw away the baby with the bath water: the mind must be transformed and illumined – now.
“Each moment is an open door
To invite either
Aspiring and illumining thoughts
Or desiring and binding thoughts.”
– Sri Chinmoy
We meditate not just to have a good experience during meditation; we meditate to transform our consciousness, to intensify, expand and elevate our life experience, 24 hours a day.
As our meditation affects the quality of our life outside of meditation, so does our life outside of meditation impinge on the quality of our meditation.
It is useless to follow a strict diet for 2 hours each day, if we consume junk food for the remaining 22. Strictly disciplining our thoughts during meditation cannot be of much help, unless we carefully monitor and control our flow of thoughts while we are not meditating.
Thoughts are hugely influential in shaping the consciousness we radiate and offer to the world from moment to moment. Our thoughts are 100 per cent our responsibility. As we choose our clothes according to how we wish to present to ourselves and the world, so must we be careful and wise in selecting the wardrobe of thoughts we inhabit, wear and display.
As dust settles and weeds grow, so thoughts will occupy our every idle or distracted moment. To outpace unwanted thoughts, remain always active and dynamic, ever striving for a goal – for aspiration and dynamism give positive focus and form to our thoughts.
Thoughts are the food and currency of our limited and limiting mind; to escape the mind is to escape the corrosive influence of thoughts.
Our spiritual heart is our saviour and refuge. The more we can be in our heart, the better. Humility, gratitude, selflessness and humour are magnets that draw us into our thought-proof heart. Immerse yourself in these qualities: the thought-monster will gradually weaken and eventually surrender.