The Absurdity of Sleep
Does yoga help me sleep better? Does meditation help me sleep better?
If you could break wellness into parts like you cut a pie into pieces, one substantial piece would be sleep. The other parts of the pie include diet, exercise, and mental/emotion contentment! Understanding yoga’s history and origin, which includes Ayurveda, we know yoga addresses the whole wellness paradigm.
With so much competing information on health and wellness, and with so much misinformation on health and wellness, it’s virtually impossible to know what’s appropriate for oneself by listening to all the studies. Especially when understanding that science does not yet see the complete picture and because all things are connected, it can’t fully understand anything. This is why discoveries and studies eventually get altered and adjusted to reflect new understanding.
For a good night’s sleep and the maintenance of health and wellbeing, one does not have to look beyond yoga as it covers all the pieces of the pie. Yoga gives non-dogmatic dietary guidelines (through Ayurveda), a multitude of exercises for physical maintenance, and meditation for mental/emotional wellness. Meditation’s main aim is to quiet the mind and this is the largest factor in sleep! All of this adds up to a great sleep. Yes, yoga helps you sleep better and is unlike pills, which do not address the cause and have side effects!
Sleep issues and problems are at epidemic proportions. If the amount of people who have sleep issues had coronavirus, nobody would leave their house. Few things contribute to health more than a good night’s sleep. Part of the problem are the screens and monitors and the type of light they emit. Another part of the issue is the overwhelming amount of time spent on the screens, especially before bed, and the amount of information we now digest due to the internet. Much of this information is replayed in our brain many times over while we are trying to sleep. Then there is just a really busy brain racing through thoughts that, to a large degree, is the by-product of a really busy life.
In our culture, indulging in a yoga practice which affects all aspects of our life, one looks like an alien to the money hungry, success driven, status achieving, “achiever” who has unknowingly sacrificed wellness. All this simply to keep up with the joneses, not even realizing the joneses are really f***k*d up people. We can call this aspect of our persona the “achiever” because that’s its M.O. This persona has been programmed by the values, tendencies, norms and customs of our culture. This is a psychological law, that “the more we see something the more we believe it”, even if it’s crazy!
The thing is both the yogi and the achiever want the same thing which is contentment! To facilitate contentment their tactics differ drastically. Basically the achiever wants “more”, the achiever sees contentment as something to be acquired. Whether it’s more money, status, adulation, recognition, beauty, strength, flexibility or youthfulness. The yogi wants “balance”. It’s not true that the yogi takes a vow of poverty. This would be the opposite extreme of gluttony. It’s just that the yogi realizes the more you have the more you have to maintain. The more you have to maintain the more stress! The yogi can appreciate outer accomplishments as much as anyone yet realizes that after one’s basic needs are met wellness is not something you can acquire it is something you have to discover. You can’t buy it you have to cultivate it. This is the purpose of a yoga practice.
For the “achiever” to achieve or get ahead you have to work harder and longer, sleepless, and do more than the next person, and these qualities are admired by our culture. We have coined this the “rat race”. Those who achieve the most are considered the “most successful”. There are many movies, TV shows, and headlines that pay homage to the most successful, the rich, beautiful, strong and dominant this is why we want it, remember “the more you see it the more you believe it”. But very few pay homage to the “most content”. Therefore, the achiever mentality is propagated by our media and the cycle strengthens. For the achiever, there is no ability to honor our unique circadian rhythm, no ability to honor our sleep needs, diet needs, even our physical and psychological nature. People are more and more becoming unwell because in honoring our uniqueness we may fall short of achieving our goals (are they really our goals or an ego that’s been programmed by our culture’s goals). So, our goals work against our wellness.
In the midst of this rat race there is a lot going on! There is so much to do and to accomplish, care for, worry about, and need not to mention all the information to digest. In other words, we are very busy. As pressure builds to acquire all that we want, and to maintain all that has been acquired, the muscles tense and our mind races and it’s killing our sleep.
If you are lacking a good night’s sleep and you are not ready to shift your priorities, please make a little time for some yoga and meditation to help counterbalance the tension and busy-ness. Who knows, as your sleep improves and you start feeling well, your priorities may naturally shift. Go to poweryoga.com and try for free a 20 minute class and a 10 minute meditation and see for yourself. That’s right--for free!