How can we increase our determination for waking up in the morning?
Transcriber: Suresh Gupta
Editor: Raji Nachiappan
Question: How can we increase our determination for waking up in the morning?
Answer: Firstly, denying the body’s needs should not be mistaken as a sign of determination. If the body has a habit of sleeping for six-seven hours, suddenly expecting one to manage with five hours or less and considering inability to do so to be lack of determination, is not a correct understanding of determination. Determination is a matter of will power, which is basically the soul’s capacity to desire which is expressed through the mind on to the body.
The body is like a vehicle. The driver may have a lot of will power but if the vehicle does not have any fuel, then will power alone will not work. Therefore, we cannot deny body’s needs. It is true that Prabhupada said that as we become spiritually advanced, the needs of the body will decrease. Srila Prabhupada gave the example of Goswamis who slept and ate very little. That is true, however, that alone is not the sign of spiritual advancement. It is also not that, by artificially eating or sleeping less we will make more spiritual advancement. Srila Prabhupada also said that if we sleep too much we will become lazy and if we sleep too less we will become crazy. This means that when we sleep too less, the mind will not work properly. Even if we are awake, we will be half asleep or inattentive or sometimes even irritable. Therefore, the inability to decrease the body’s needs in sudden steps is not a lack of determination. The body’s needs will decrease organically. That means as we find more and more absorbing things to do in Krishna’s service, then naturally we will not spend so much time sleeping and as a result, the body’s sleep will decrease.
Practically speaking, we can decrease our sleep in steps – from six hours thirty minutes to six hours fifteen minutes and then to six hours. As the body adjusts, we can try to decrease sleep over a period of time. However, just decreasing sleep alone is not the sign of spiritual advancement nor is the inability to decrease amount of sleep a sign of lack of determination. If we want to improve our sadhana and we want to wake up in the morning, generally it is good to sleep earlier, so that we get adequate rest.
With respect to waking up three different things can be done:
I. Team-up: If there is another devotee who wakes up early, teaming up will help. When we set the alarm, we battle with our own mind. However, if we team up, then the devotee also helps us in our battle.
To some extent, the association of the devotees helps us to use the power of our ego in devotional service. For example, we do not want the other devotees to think of us as lazy or lacking in determination. This thought process is not necessarily wrong – It is said yena kena prakarena manah kṛishne niveshayet – somehow or the other we should fix our mind on Krishna. Hence, at a lower level, we do not want others to think bad about us. At a higher level, when another devotee is waking up early, we feel inspired.
II. Keep track: It is especially important to keep a track of our late-night activities to ensure that we sleep on time. Generally, if we start to wind up from 9 pm, we can retire to bed soon. Otherwise, it become late and difficult for us to wake up.
The activities done in the evenings or in the late nights generally fall in three categories: (i) urgent (ii) not so urgent (iii) not necessary.
Urgent activities have to be done. As devotees we do not want to give up our regulations but we do not want to become attached to regulations also. We should see regulations as a means to become attached to Krishna and not see them as goals. Not so urgent activities can be deferred for a later time. Sometimes, in the rush of things, we feel such activities to be necessary and we extend ourselves. For such activities, if we can catch ourselves and then we can avoid them. For unnecessary activities we should just say no. Generally, we succumb to them due to our weaknesses.
III. Power of sound: It is always helpful to use the power of sound, for raising our consciousness. That means, we can either write down a small diary or make some resolutions ourselves. It can be something like, ‘I will wake up in the morning’ and couple it with a verse from the Gita or a quote of Prabhupada to inspire and regulate ourselves.
Also, on days we are able to wake up early and our sadhana goes well, if we write a journal how it helped, that will help increase our determination. Basically, determination involves our getting the conviction that the prize is greater than the price. The mind however confuses us saying that that it is not worth it. Therefore, even though we know it conceptually, if we write it down, it helps. On the other hand, if we sleep too long, then we feel disgusted. If we can write down a little bit about both these things, then our resolve to wake up will be greater. Keeping our resolutions outside of us, so that we can slightly distance ourselves from them and evaluate them, makes those resolutions tangible. The resolutions are not just inside, they are outside which we can see and evaluate also, to know if they are realistic.
If our resolutions are not realistic, we can modify them. If they are realistic, then our resolve to try to stick to them increases because they have got a more tangible form. In the Bhagavad-gita 6.17-18, Prabhupada says that a devotee cannot bear to spend even one moment without serving Krishna. Any time spent unnecessarily in sleep is considered to be a great loss. Such quotes may also help inspire us.
Determination has multiple aspects. It has the aspect of intellectual conviction, which means we are convinced to do it and sacrifice involved will give back us a significant reward. Then, there is the practical aspect, in terms of getting adequate rest and recognising the body’s needs. Next is the emotional aspect, where we try to connect with other devotees and mutually encourage each other. Beyond that, there is the spiritual aspect, where we pray to Krishna. The Supersoul is one who switches our consciousness from jagruti (wakefulness) to swapna (sleep) and therefore he can switch the consciousness back from swapna to jagruti also. Some devotees chant one round just before bed with the prayer of wanting to wake up early.
If we have something which we like to do when we wake up as the first thing in the morning (a nice prayer or some shlokas or a few lines of a Vaishnava song) then that helps snap the lethargy. It is also good to write down the prayer so that we can speak the prayer aloud properly when we wake up.
Therefore, if at a physical, practical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual level, we do these activities, then surely it is possible over a period of time to get the determination to wake up in the morning or do other aspects of sadhana with more determination.
End of transcription.