Guiding Light of The Month

In this immense heroic struggle, in this sublime struggle of love against hatred, of justice against injustice, of obedience to Thy supreme law against revolt, may I gradually be able to make humanity worthy of a still sublimer peace in which, all internal dissensions having ceased, the whole effort of man may be united for the attainment of a more and more perfect and integral realisation of Thy divine Will and Thy progressive ideal. - The Mother

From the Editor's Desk (September 2016)

In this editorial, we examine rest and sleep as a component of physical culture. Rest refers to the cessation of movement or activity in order to relax or take a break from an intense activity, and sleep refers to a state of bodily rest where the mind and body are at rest, usually for several hours in the night hours. In this state, the postural muscles are at rest, the eyes closed, and the nervous system relatively inactive with the surface consciousness more or less suspended. The state of sleep occurs in every animal in its own pattern as a recoil from physical activity so that the bodily engine is given a rest or a break. During this period of sleep, the energies of the being is directed to an internal activity that heals the body of fatigue, repairs damaged cells and tissues, such as of the skeletal muslces, heart muscles and the blood vessels, regulates the body’s reaction to insulin, the hormone that controls the blood glucose level, balances the hormones that control hunger and keeps the body’s immune system in order. Sleep replenishes and rejuvenates the entire body so as to prepare it for another day’s existence and probably towards a better chance of survival. Studies have shown that the mind creates new pathways during sleep and prepares the being to remember lessons and prepare to receive new information.

 A sleep deficient person finds it difficult to make decisions, solve problems, process new information of situations effectively, controlling emotions and managing change. It is quite clear that in an ordinary person, sleep is of prime importance for the continuity of a certain quality of life and eventually of life itself. It is said that one or two hours of lost sleep can show tangible effects on the body and psychology. One sign of the body lacking its needed hours of sleep is the tendency to go into micro sleep during daytime while in the middle of an activity. Micro sleep refers to brief moments of sleep during waking hours. Rest, according to Dr. Mathew Edlund, is of four types: social, mental, physical and spiritual rest. Social rest occurs when one spends time with relations, friends or colleagues. Mental rest occurs when we pull ourselves out of an engaging mental activity by focussing on the breath and directing our concentration on something particular, such as a place of significance and beauty and ‘seeing’ oneself move in that space such as along a beach or a “sun drabbled forest”. Imagination may help in this and the mind enters through a rest phase. Physical rest occurs when we deliberately take deep breaths, fill our lungs with oxygen and let this exercise continue till oxygen replenishes the body system. Lastly, spiritual rest entails meditative practices and prayers.

When we systematically and rigorously observe our tendency to follow certain rest or sleep patterns, and start observing our bodily functions and state of being, we may realise our needs in this area of physical culture. To remedy defects in our habits of rest and sleep requires will and discipline. One finds that usually vital desires and perceived needs influence our life-style. When we become aware of these, and become clearer about our aim in life, and support this with a deep aspiration for progress towards that aim, then somehow, life falls into order and rest and sleep find their own congenial patterns, offering us the needed replenishment, and rejuvenation to head towards the aim of our lives.

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