The Cycle of Rest and Rejuvenation
Michael Dick and Savi Ermini
Our lives and our universe are governed by alternating cycles of rest and activity. Each cycle makes the other necessary, maintaining a dynamic balance. Rest occurs when the sweeping or gross movements that expend energy give way to the subtle processes of repair, cellular restoration, and house cleaning that regenerate energy. Without adequate rest nutrients are exhausted and bodily toxins accumulate. We feel run down, depleted, and even sick. With too much rest our muscles become flaccid and lose tone, causing stagnation of metabolic wastes in the cells, tissues, and organs. Balancing activity and rest keeps the muscles strong and flexible so that they can maintain and protect our physiology by regularly releasing toxins and eliminating waste products.
Nature provides for the deep rest cycle we refer to as sleep by slowing all the bodily processes down about an hour or two after the sun has set. This is the best time to sleep as we align our rest cycle with the rhythms of Nature and avoid the imbalance of creating a second wind. Sleeping before 10 p.m. enhances the processes of regeneration and housecleaning and provides the greatest benefit.
Sleep is the rest cycle the body and mind enter into together. The body’s limbs and sense organs cease their movements and the mind stops chasing thoughts or suppressing feelings. As the body and mind become still there is usually a loss of waking consciousness. It is important to know that losing consciousness is not necessary for beneficial rest. When the mind enters into meditation, letting go of its attachment to thought and centering itself in its own awareness, the physiology experiences profound rejuvenation.
Proper structural alignment and complete digestion are necessary for deep sleep and rejuvenation. If the body is torqued or crimped the exchange of nutrients and wastes will be constricted. The level of discomfort that results will occupy the mind, keeping it from drawing inward. If the evening meal has not been completely digested the internal chemistry will disturb the mind. Similarly, if the day’s thoughts have not been resolved (mental digestion), mental agitation will inhibit sleep.
Ayurvedic guidelines for naturally sound sleeping habits include:
1. Going to bed before 10PM.
2. Waking up between 4 and 7AM.
3. Eating a light evening meal before 7PM.
4. Resolving hurt or angry feelings before going to bed.
5. Moderating the temperature, noise and light levels in your sleep environment.
6. Learning to relax your muscles and your mind.
7. Tailoring your bedding to maximize you body comfort.
According to Ayurveda, every element of life is characterized by its dominant qualities. The attributes of too bright, too hot, too cold, and too sharp inhibit rest. In the physical environment excessive brightness is handled by turning out the lights, pulling down the shade, and covering the eyes with a night mask. The right mix of bed coverings, opening or closing the windows, and calibrating the thermostat achieves temperature moderation. Using pillows that allow the air to circulate around the head and are filled with naturally insulating materials is a healthy habit.
Excess sharpness is usually more of a problem in the internal environment occurring as the pain from eating too much and digesting improperly. It can be particularly acute when the foods are overly spicy or acidic. Sharpness in the form of strong judgments angry thoughts can disturb peace of mind and disrupt sleep. A mattress or pillow that allows the neck and spine to sag or torque and pinch a nerve can also create unwanted sharpness.
The guidelines to natural, restorative sleep include:
1. Going to bed between 9:00 and 10:30 p.m.
2. Getting at least 5 ˝ hours but no more than 8 ˝ hours of sleep on a regular basis.
3. Eating a light dinner before 7:00p.m.
4. Moderate and regular exercise during the day.
5. Resolving quarrels before going to bed.
6. Tailoring your bedding and sleeping environment to your exact comfort and preference.
Savi Ermini is President of Boxi Pillows and has also studied at the Ayurvedic Institute.
© Copyright 1999 Michael S. Dick / Savitri Ermini All Rights Reserved