Question: What should we do when we become very tired? I know we are not supposed to drink coffee or tea. Are there any spiritual methods for waking ourselves up or for getting more effective sleep?

Sri Chinmoy: There are spiritual methods that can come to your rescue when you are tired. You can do alternate breathing exercises for five minutes.1 But do not do it mechanically. Concentrate while you are breathing, and you are bound to feel that you are breathing in divine energy. Coffee gives you energy; tea gives you energy; but divine energy, which you are breathing in constantly, has infinitely more power than coffee and tea.

I have said that seven or eight hours of sleep is necessary for beginners. But there is a yogic method of getting rest. In one second you can take the rest of fifteen minutes, half an hour or even more. How can you get that kind of rest? When you go to sleep at night, feel that your whole body from head to foot has become a sea of peace. You have become peace itself. Consciously try to feel that you are not the body, but an infinite expanse of peace. When you can consciously feel this peace, you will see that your physical body has merged with it and totally disappeared in the sea of peace. If you can do this exercise effectively, you will need very little sleep.

It is not the number of hours you sleep that is important. During eight hours of sleep you do not get even one hour of sound sleep, and perhaps you don't get even a couple of minutes. Since you know how to meditate and concentrate, what is necessary is to feel the infinite expanse of peace and to embody peace inside yourself. We feel that when the body is active, dynamic, we have strength. But the real strength is in inner peace, not in outer action. When we have peace in infinite measure then automatically dynamic energy comes from there. In the outer field of manifestation we become dynamic energy, while inside we are all peace.

Indian tradition says that at night if you sleep on your left side, you get better sleep. During the day it is best to sleep on your right side. Never sleep on your chest. There is truth in all these things. The sages also say never to sleep with your hands on your chest, or you will have nightmares. Many people do have nightmares unnecessarily because of this.

What you can do if you feel that even eight hours of sleep is not enough for you, or if you are unable to get to bed at your usual hour on a certain night is this: try to imagine that you are going to sleep for twenty-four hours. Try to feel that you will have a sound sleep for twenty-four hours. Then as soon as you wake up in the morning, try to feel that you have slept for twenty-four hours. Never think that you have slept for only three hours or four hours. It is the mind that convinces the outer consciousness. The conscious mind alone can satisfy you. If your conscious mind tells you that you have slept for twenty-four hours, then you will believe it. This is not self-deception. It is self-control in the conscious mind. We say that we have slept for twenty-four hours because the figure twenty-four gives us the feeling that we have had a considerable amount of rest, a more than adequate amount of rest. This figure has enormous strength. We may not sleep for even four hours, but the figure twenty-four immediately gives us a sense of satisfaction, relief and fulfilment. In this way we can get up early in the morning.

SDS 41,2. This exercise is fully described in the chapter on Pranayama in Sri Chinmoy's book The body: humanity's fortress.