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March 30, 2023

Why we are unable to sense mental exhaustion until it is too late?

I first began formal practice with meditation under the guidance of a spiritual master in 1994. Thirty years ago, it was far easier to sit for a practice of meditation, quieten the restlessness in my mind sooner and experience deeper and longer meditative states. Can you guess what is the single biggest cause for this difference between then and now?

In 2022, I took a long vacation from my mentoring and grandparenting work and went to stay in a remote resort in Kodaikanal with my wife, Hema. It was far easier to sit for a practice of meditation, quieten my mind and experience deep meditative states for long periods of time over there in comparison to my daily practice in Hyderabad. To give a comparison, the difference between Hyderabad and Kodaikanal is like that between Manhattan and Sedona. Can you now guess what is that single biggest cause?

The answers for all the three questions above are the same as we shall see in a while. Let us first explore the difference between mental tiredness and physical tiredness. Also find out the difference between mental rest and physical rest.

Our understanding of tiredness or exhaustion is most often confined to our physical body. We engage in physical activity, we get tired, we rest our physical body, we feel rested and energized and go back to physical activity. We have been doing this even as infants. Physical tiredness is easy to sense because continuing with the activity becomes progressively more painful and uncomfortable.  Physical rest would include, sitting down, lying down, taking a nap, taking a body massage, taking a long warm bath or a full night sleep.

Mental activity is different. Mental activity concerns our logical, rational, analytical mind and I refer to this as our thinking-mind. There are things we intentionally do with our mind such as planning, working, calculating, computing, watching something (videos) listening to something (such as podcasts), reading, studying, focusing, concentrating, paying attention. And then there are things we do unintentionally with our mind. These include the monologues in our mind with ourselves, the dialogues we carry out mentally with an imaginary person, the voices of others in our mind telling us what not to do, memories of past events, worries about the future, fantasising, imagining, dreaming, etc. We are habituated to this and so it seems to be happening effortlessly and automatically, although we are doing it. We don’t know how to stop it.

We assume that we are resting our mind when we stop doing things intentionally with our mind, but we have only started doing something else. It is like taking a rest while running by switching to walking but that is not complete resting.

The problem is that mental tiredness results in restlessness which causes more mental activity. It is like riding the tiger and there is no way to get down. Physical rest does not give rest to the mind because even if we fall asleep, we continue the mental activity in the form of intense dreaming. The only complete rest to this part of our mind is to switch out of it and into our aware mind, the being part of us. This switch happens with grounding or meditation.

Now let us see why it has become more difficult to rest our tired minds. Mind exists in the form of a field of electro-magnetic energy vibrations surrounding and permeating our physical body. Our thoughts, emotions and sense perceptions are different vibratory frequencies in this field. Previously, the space around us used to be clear and only the subtle natural energy field of the earth and the cosmos existed making it easier to sync our energies with those.

The network of digital communication is also electro-magnetic energy vibrations in the space around us. When we watch a video or receive a message using the 4G or 5G cellular network, the information travels through the space from the tower to our device. This acts as energy pollution causing imperceptible disturbance to our body’s energy field. The satellites, antennas, radio devices and signals, Wi-Fi signals, the list of things that add on to the energy pollution is endless. It was almost non-existent thirty years ago!

What is the solution?

In this state of high restlessness within our mind and in the surrounding space, if we close our eyes to meditate, we are simply giving an all-green signal to the restlessness to completely hijack our mind. We get completely lost. Using our willpower to keep the mind quiet is counterproductive. Because it gives an impression that we have meditated in a thoughtless state but such use of willpower is actually intense mental activity leading to toxic positivity!

I have found some gentle physical body movements called energy movements to be very effective to slow down our mind. After a few minutes of these energy movements, I recommend a few more minutes of eyes open meditation. Both these practices are freely available on my website in the form of short training videos (3 minutes of deep crossing practice) and short guided meditation audios (5 minutes Witnessing the four simultaneous activities meditation audio). These eight minutes of prep work would sufficiently quieten the mind to be able to enjoy a long, deep, and fulfilling practice of meditation, deeply resting the mind and healing the body.

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Selvan Srinivasan  |  Contribution: 12,095