Ayurveda on Napping, Vedanta on Sleep

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian study of medicine, suggests that taking a nap during the day (“daysleep”), is best done under certain conditions.


Ayurveda recommends that napping should not happen on a full stomach.  Better to nap on an empty or semi-empty stomach, and then one wakes up light and fresh.


Ayurveda generally holds that napping is not a problem in the hot summer months or hot weather.  However, it warns against napping during cold seasons, for people of certain constitutions.

Specifically, “Kapha” people should avoid napping during winter months (and frankly, Kapha should avoid napping during summer months as well, unless completely necessary).  As Kapha already has a tendency to slowness, docility, and the risk of lethargy, a nap may exacerbate these traits.


That said, for Vata and Pitta types, naps can be extremely beneficial.


Advaita Vedanta on Sleep 

The Indian non-dualist philosophy of Advaita Vedanta actually holds up “deep sleep” as a particularly important state, in some ways privileging it over the other two states — the waking state and the dreaming state.


This is because, in deep sleep we are “reconnected with our source,” and no longer subject to the illusions of the ego and the external world.


That said, the ideal of Advaita Vedanta, is that one can become cognizant of one’s identity as source, not simply in Deep Sleep (when one is not really cognizant, frankly), but also in the waking state.

That is true liberation, when one can be one with one’s source, and not deluded by the apparent ego or individuality, while awake and alive.


Sages such as Ramana Maharshi are said to have achieved this state — of constant awareness of the True Self.


Nature of the Energies generated by Karma Yoga at Amma’s Ashram


I wanted to write today to share the latest on my experience at Amma’s Ashram, Amritapuri.

I am aware that I have been blogging from here nearly every day. This might seem like a lot. But I interestingly feel a great drive in me to write, to blog, to put my experiences down in typing.

In any case, there is a huge amount going on here — so it seems.

There seems to be a lot going on, both externally and internally.

Karma Yoga, and Increased Energy 

What I wanted to write about was the interesting phenomenon that many here who are part of my Seva (my Karma Yoga job — see previous posts for more details on what this means; I am in compost!), have also spoken to me about, and which I am experiencing viscerally to an increasing extent these last few days.

This is a feeling that I am if anything, gaining in energy, gaining in focus and in positive energy to get things done — viz, “being more productive” — the more Seva (selfless service) work that I do.

I have not been working a huge amount — only about 2.5 to 3 hours per day of work in compost.

But that said, while it is (at times) a highly physically draining and exhausting bit of work, I find that if anything my days seem to be more productive than they might be were I not doing this work.

There are a number of dedicated “Karma Yogis” among those who work with me, many of whom work 6, 8, or 10 hours per day. Again, they are doing this entirely without pay or compensation (besides, for a few of them, a waiving of the paltry accommodation fee (only a few dollars)). They are generally doing this out of devotion to Amma, and out of a desire to maintain this ashram and community.

Their work also, in a way, benefits even materially, the world outside at large.

(I say, “even materially,” as there is a strong tradition of belief in the Indian spiritual tradition that doing spiritual work, even if it does not have an apparent material impact, actually is of great benefit to “others,” or a benefit to the world. That is to say, that even Yogis or Monks meditating in the mountains, are benefiting the world. That raising one’s consciousness has a greater benefit beyond one’s own limited organism (e.g., to some collective consciousness, we might speculate).

I say “even materially”, as the work of this ashram is actually also supporting a huge range of humanitarian projects sponsored or organized by Amma worldwide.)

[One can read more about Amma’s humanitarian projects here: http://amma.org/global-charities and here: http://www.embracingtheworld.org/]

In any case — these Karma yogis have also spoken about an increased feeling of energy from doing their many hours of Sefless service work (in their cases, working most of the day).

And I have to say, though with just a few days of experience, my experience has been largely the same.

As another girl who works here said to me [a shorter-term inmate like myself], “I feel like I am getting so many things done”….

For me, I am not sure if my list of things getting done sounds concretely very impressive. What do I do in a day? I meditate and try to be more mindful; I do my physically taxing compost work; I write blog posts nearly every day; I handwash all my laundry (as I do anyways; but here I am much cleaner than I have been for awhile…), and do a variety of other little things.

But for some reason, though these are not a great deal of things to be doing (I realize), I do feel that I have more energy than I would otherwise in my life, keeping to a similar agenda of tasks.

One explanation for this is the good vibrations and positive energy (“etc.”, “so to speak”, — choose your apologetic rider), that are generated by doing charitable activity.

The explanation that the Karma Yogis (all of whom are quite dedicated devotees of Amma, of course), is that it is the powers of Amma that imbue them with this increased energy.

Though initially I might be skeptical of this, I also see some truth and beauty in their explanations. To be sure, I have experienced a lot of powerful energy, whenever I have been around Amma.

I also —

(And here I reach what I suppose will be a significant junction — this is where a few things may occur. (1) Family and friends who I may choose to refer to my Blog, may feel a bit alienated. Or think that I think weird things. Mind you, that latter thought is not particularly novel, and is probably true. But of course we all wish to be felt sane, and reasonable, and well-understood, and so on. This leads to (2) — Some general readers may also be alienated. Or think me not 100% sane…. Again, though, there could be worse things than merely that ;))

This reminds me of something that the spiritual teacher/guru Ram Dass (nee Richard Alpert), used to say in his talks: “If this is getting too weird, or doesn’t make any sense, then there are two explanations: Either I’m insane, or you’re insane…” (!)

In any case, maybe I am insane. Actually, despite this build up, perhaps what I am about to write, is not too too weird. Maybe just a bit.

So… what I was going to write was that: I can certainly feel the presence of Amma at times — not really Amma as an individual, but more I would say I experience again the feelings of peace and tranquility, which seem perhaps to reflect the facet of Universal consciousness that she embodies.

I feel I can in a sense step back and return to the presence that I have felt around Amma at times. That there is a peace there, associated with being in Amma’s presence, that I can return to.

This feeling seems to have increased, to a greater or lesser extent, from being in the vicinity of Amma, and seems to be something that also comes and goes.

Maybe this should not be surprising — that the peace of a saint can come and go and remain with us. And that perhaps, acting in service, should encourage and enable these feelings of peace to come more frequently and reliably.

Sending Peace your way. Love.