Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sleep Deprived?

sleep is the best meditation~HH the 14th Dalai Lama

When I was in nursing school, we students were told over and over about the importance of sleep.
Then our professors would promptly deprive us of it.

I worked through their intense, and often insane schedules, trying desperately keep up. I was living off of 3 hours of sleep a night and chugging pots of coffee and eating snickers bars to keep my energy levels up.

None of this made me a better student. It made me a cranky, angry and self righteous student but not a better one.

The wake up call (pardon the pun) occured to me when I had just finished up my clinical work at the hospital, completed a mountain of medicine cards and chart studies. I was on my way home for the much needed 3 hour down time.  It was raining, after midnight, and driving in less than optimal conditions at the best of times.

It was a 30 mile trip home and so, before i made the long trek back to the house, I decided to stop off at my favorite convenience store for, yep you guessed it, an extra large cup of coffee and three or four Snickers bars.

There was a blank space between the time I pulled into the NUWAY convenience store driveway and the moment I saw a ditch filled with rushing water coming up at me.

I sat stunned  in my father's favorite El Camino with water rapidly rising over the hood. .  I didn't know what frightened me more,  that I could have killed myself or someone else, or what my dad would do if he found out what happened to his 'Little Elkie.'

It was not a pleasant thought.

I did get the car out, via an understanding friend with a wrecker, and I spent my sleep time hosing the car off at a nearby car wash.

Since it's pretty obvious that sleep deprivation can effect our everyday life, imagine what it does to our daily practice. 

I know of people who average four or five hours a sleep a day and tell me, as they gaze at me with blood shot eyes that their Dharma practice is going wonderfully, thank you. Um, guess what? No its not.

Just like being sleep deprived made me a cranky, self righteous nursing student, being sleep deprived will make myself and others cranky, self righteous Dharma practitioners. And no one wants that.

I have a secret to share.
If your mantra is zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......................
Then you're not practicing effectively.

Having trouble getting to sleep?  Here's a few things I do when I am ready for bed that you could benefit from.

  • Take a cool shower.
  • make sure the room is dark
  • make sure the phone is on voice mail. (If someone calls me at 2 am someone had better damned well have died)
  • turn off the television in the bedroom.
  • do a brief meditation practice
  • take a 'cat' nap during the day.

And of course, here's links to some articles about the subject.

Practice these, and see if your meditation improves. I know mine did.  Let me know how it turns out.

Sleep well.
om mani padme hum

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