The mind’s gluttony brings in its wake
Restless nights, keeping us awake

Sleep is a medicine for the body and calmness a balm for the mind. Good sleep and a calm mind go hand in hand. Would it not be wonderful if we could experience the stillness of mind during the day and enjoy a restful sleep at night?

Restlessness and inability to sleep are related to

  • the state of mind
  • the intensity of thought chatter
  • the depth of our involvement with the mind

If we are restless and can’t sleep well, this impacts how we function the following day — the cycle repeats. We begin to look for interventions.

It is easier to work on sleep than the mind. Sleep aids in the form of pills may temporarily help us sleep better but they only address the symptom and cannot offer a permanent cure for a restless mind. When we use artificial sleep aids, we are indirectly fighting the mind.

A restless mind boils down to our identification with thoughts and experiences. We claim ownership where it is not required. Once an experience passes through the mind, it is best left aside. If we cling on, hoping for it to last indefinitely, there cannot be room for new ones.

There is a greater reliance on the senses when we identify with experiences as sources of comfort and happiness. The mind’s appetite for sensory pleasure is potentially endless. The body has a safety mechanism — the brain center that signals satiety — but the mind does not have such a system. Higher the quantity of our desires, the more the mind’s intake of sensory information.

Just as the body takes time to digest food, the mind cannot quickly process the significant amount of input it receives daily. The ‘digestion’ happens in the subconscious mind. As a part of this process, thoughts related to incomplete experiences keep resurfacing in the conscious mind.

In sleep, the deeper layers of the mind open. Thoughts that find refuge there may disturb the quality of our sleep. Preparation for a good night’s sleep begins during the day, right from the time we awaken.

When we step back and become watchful of the mind, it has a transformative effect on the mind. It quietens down by itself. Becoming an observer of the mind rather than a participant opens our awareness to the dimension of witnessing. Approaching the mind as a witness quietens it, making it is sharper and more effective at performing tasks.

When our awareness is in the witnessing dimension, old mental habit patterns melt and disappear. Thoughts are released from the traps of unfulfilled desires and incomplete experiences. If we are careful not to indulge in these thoughts, they may disappear for good. It is a gradual process. Time and patience are needed.

Witnessing, and not participating in experiences helps complete the cycle. Through observing we become aware of the emptiness before an experience appears. The movement of the experience and the void which returns as the experience subsides also become apparent. Such experiences that run their course in the mind will have no chance of entering the deeper layers.

Sleep is the other half of a quiet mind. It comes naturally and will be deeply rejuvenating when we keep the mind uncluttered and free during the daytime.

Observing the mind and creating the space of witnessing will calm a restless mind. Good sleep will follow.