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THE DUALITY OF SLEEP AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO HAVING MORE OR LESS TIME

Author: 
Karnamrita Das

I have been a late bloomer my whole life, and yet time sometimes comes to my aid to teach me lessons that only are understood years later. A 19 ½ as a young brahmacari, we learned that “sleep was death” and was a waste of time, so if Prabhupada recommended 6 hours for those in the mood of goodness, then surely we should lessen that.

Thus, we experimented pushing the envelope back to 5½ to 5 hours etc. For a while, when I was a pujari in the old San Francisco, Valentia Street, temple, in the early 70’s, I was doing 4 hours a night, going to bed at around 11 and rising in time to wake the Deities at 3:30 a.m.

Somehow, I functioned, though I was always nodding out, since I thought taking rest during the day was “maya.” Sitting for chanting japa or class, or cleaning the Deity room floor, meant I would be in and out of sleeping, except when taking prasad. I used to chant my rounds on the roof of the building next door which we rented for storage and parking, and I am amazed I didn’t fall off, since I used to pace on the concrete border edge! Krishna protected me then and so many times in my life!

Many of us have had an interesting relationship with sleep, and for me, that continues to this day. At this time of my life, even 6 hours is a dream. For most of married life I have been sleeping 7 hours. With my current cancer protocol, I am being forced to sleep 7 ½, or 8 hours, plus a nap in the middle of the day, which has taking some getting used to. As a result, I haven’t been able to steadily write in the morning as I would prefer, which practically means no writing at all. That is why I have had to revert to just posting quotes with a tiny intro or commentary, or adapting old blogs. Occasionally I just force myself to write or make a video.

Even though I know that sleep is required for good health and detoxing the body, I still wish I could avoid or reduce it. I could write and not chant, but for me that means chanting all day long, since it takes so much longer to chant during the day. Right now, it is late afternoon, and I am making the time to write because I was feeling quite incomplete and negligent, not doing my writing seva. Even though it’s likely that only a few people read my writings in their entirety, still, for me, writing and now doing videos, is what I can give and contribute, and I put so much of myself into it. I also share pictures of my daily inspiration in my flower seva as part of morning worship.

Here is another instance when practicing “radical acceptance” is necessary, which is especially true regarding whether I completely or partially recover, or leave my body sooner rather than later. We can begin with the serenity prayer to work on changing that which needs to, and can be, changed, while accepting certain conditions we can’t, and to have the wisdom to know which is which. That will save us much aggravation and time! As I have shared recently, we all go through certain stages in our lives and must adjust accordingly.

I have a lot of material about my cancer journey waiting to be put in a book and expanded upon, though at present that would be difficult at best, since the inspirational energy and practical intelligence is lacking. When we come to what appear to be roadblocks in life or in our goals, out of the box thinking is often required, knowing that within any problem lies the solution. We shall see what direction my life, and all of our lives, goes in the months ahead. Will the Phoenix rise?

"[When he was being blessed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Dhruva Maharaja said:] ‘O my Lord, because I was seeking an opulent material position, I was performing severe types of penance and austerity. Now I have gotten You, who are very difficult for the great demigods, saintly persons and kings to attain. I was searching after a piece of glass, but instead I have found a most valuable jewel. Therefore I am so satisfied that I do not wish to ask any benediction from You.' [Cc Madhya 22.42 quoting a verse from the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya (7.28)]