How yogic sleep can make a huge difference in one's mental health. By practicing yoga, one can make a conscious effort to be happy.
Significance of Happiness
Dad Explains the Significance of Happiness
He entered home and saw his 18-year-old daughter lying still on the couch. He went into his room. An hour later, when he returned for dinner, Jenny was still on the couch.
Jenny had lost her mother to cancer six months back. Jake, her father, had become lonely after his wife was gone. It was a great wrench for both of them. There was a void in their lives, and their hearts felt empty. Yet, Jake decided to have a difficult conversation with his daughter that day.
“What are you thinking, darling? Missing mom?” Jake asked.
Jenny did not reply.
“I cannot talk you out of the lows in your life as I used to when you were little. My baby would sit in my lap, I would tell her a story, and that would be it. You are a big girl now. Things are not as simple, and I am not going to be your hero-dad today. What I am going to tell you is the truth. My happiness depends on you, Jenny. When you smile, I want to smile. When you cry, my heart cries. You don’t have to say anything, sweetheart. Your eyes say it all. I know what you are going through, and I can feel the pain.”
“I feel very vulnerable after mom left, and seeing my child in this state makes me helpless. Jenny, we must learn to laugh again. We will never see your mom again. But I know for sure that she would have never wanted us to live like this. They say souls must move on. Their loved ones should help them move on. If you are so sad, she will not be able to go to another world. Let her go, Jenny. Let her go peacefully.”
Jenny Resolves to Make a Concious Effort to be Happy
Jenny told Alisha the next day, “I am going to try to be happy. My state affects my dad and everyone close to me. Happiness is my responsibility. One should try to be happy, not just for oneself, but also loved ones, because it affects them very seriously, much more than one realizes.”
That conversation with Jenny tippy-toed into Alisha’s heart, hid in a secret place, and kept nurturing her soul, secretly.
Empty Nesters Miss their Kids
Many years later, one day, Alisha was at the dining table for breakfast with her dad. The room was unusually quiet. There was silence all over. Her dear plant outside the balcony was also very still. She did not know what to say. Neither did her dad or mom.
Her mother talks very little, only when it is necessary. Alisha remembers her mom modeling the person she wanted her daughter to become. Her mom ensured that Alisha always knew when to laugh or cry, what to say or read, or where to look.
Alisha’s dad had always been a storyteller. All his life, he told her and her brother umpteen tales of love, hope, joy, and sorrow. In her growing years, Alisha’s dad loved talking about work, family, and childhood. He never ran out of stories. Like many other people, his work was his life, playground and warzone, inspiration and entertainment, and so much more.
Alisha’s dad lost his father when he was very young. His childhood was full of many ups and downs, and he made it through all those rough patches with resilience and courage. Contrary to being painful, memories of his difficult childhood filled him with undying enthusiasm. Even today, when he talks about difficult times, his eyes have a blinding spark that says he will defeat his circumstances, however adverse they are, and will make life work for him. He has always done it.
After he retired from work, ten years back, Alisha’s dad started staying at home. Alisha’s mom and dad became empty-nesters when their kids went out to explore the world on their own. Their children pecked away at the treasure trove of love, stories, and energy to derive values for themselves and rough it out in the world. They had an insatiable hunger for more wisdom and wanted to learn whenever they visit their parents. But her parents had become quiet. The treasure trove seemed to have developed a lid, jammed, and tough to open.
Alisha and her brother tried hard to cheer them up. But time and again, silence would engulf them. They missed the kids and probably, unknowingly, their youthful years too.
Tolerance for Some Kinds of Pain may Reduce with Age
At the dining table one day, the uncomfortable silence made everyone gloomy. Alisha saw sadness in her dad’s eyes.
She checked on her dad, who had a cold the previous night, “Papa, how are you feeling now?”
He was reading the newspaper, and Alisha was waiting for a reply. It took him a while, almost 40 seconds.
“I am not feeling well.”
Then it happened at breakfast again.
Alisha looked at his face when she asked him if something was wrong. It took him some time before he could say his neck hurt.
“Why did he take so long to reply?” Alisha wondered.
Some studies suggest that age reduces the ability to tolerate pain. Perhaps there is a lot of time at one’s hand. Or it is hard to ignore pain when one is not busy.
Alisha felt very sad. She had never seen her dad in that state. She wanted to cling to him like a little girl and climb upon his shoulders again. She longed to hear his voice that used to be full of enthusiasm. But times change and so do circumstances.
Happiness is a Responsibility and Not Just a State of Mind
Alisha’s dad seemed to feel wronged by everyone and bad about everything - things her mom did, the dessert that mom did not let him have when he wanted to overeat, the blanket that mom did not let him buy, the day she did not smile at his joke, things his brother and his children said, the way he felt when his boss rebuked him forty years back, and so on. He was the same person who always told Alisha that one must forgive. She grew up learning forgiveness from him. He sounded so different that day.
The thought of Jenny surfaced that day, and Alisha heard that conversation in her head again. It is incredible how ideas in the subconscious mind choose situations to form a relationship with them.
“Happiness is not just a state of mind. It is a responsibility. One should try to be happy, not just for oneself, but also loved ones, because it affects them very seriously, lot more than one realizes.”
Her dad’s state of mind affected her mom, made her retort, and that hurt her dad in return. It broke Alisha’s heart. She wanted her parents to be happy in their old age.
Reasons to be Unhappy in Every Stage of Life Become Insignificant as Life Goes on
Alisha’s thoughts also took her to her grandparents. Her grandfather was simple, sober, spiritual, and disciplined. In his old age, he seemed to be just waiting to unite with the universe. He had become irritable and short-tempered, which made the family, especially her grandmother, very careful around him.
That day Alisha also went back many years into her college days. Her roommate in the hostel was a person who chose to be always sad. Alisha tried to talk to her. She gave her space, and then finally started spending time away from the hostel to avoid her glum roommate who was desolate because the boy she was attracted to wasn’t paying attention.
Well, that was a big reason for her roommate to be sad in that phase of life.
People have their own reasons in different phases of life and these reasons seem to be as important as they are inevitable. They probably become insignificant as one travels from one stage of life to another, or from one life to another. Being in the state of bliss is something that one should do responsibly, consciously, and deliberately.
“Happiness is not just a state of mind. It is a responsibility. One should try to be happy, not just for oneself, but also for loved ones, because it affects them very seriously, much more than one realizes.”
It is normal to feel depressed at times. For some people, it may be a medical condition too. And in that case, they need more help. But, for a lot of others, to be happy, they must put in the effort.
Teaching Oneself the Art of Being Happy
There are various ways of living life. One can wake up in the morning and arrive at the dining table, quietly. There is no need to talk because everything is available. There is no need to cry because you are an adult, and of course, there is no need to laugh because there is no reason to do so. There is probably every reason to be sad because life has been unfair. But to count one’s blessings, being grateful and happy for that one good thing that nature has given would be such an excellent way to live.
Each family member should make an effort to smile and laugh, despite their circumstances. When people around us are happy, they multiply happiness, and that comes back to us, in turn. Therefore, one must teach oneself the art of being happy and practice that art as a discipline.
Otherwise, there is no limit to falling in the deep well of depression. Once in the well, one goes down because the gravity of purposelessness, heightened by gloom, pulls one down completely. The more one falls, the heavier the emotions become, and the more difficult it becomes to get back up unless one fights back bravely.
Yogic Sleep Helps Reduce Mental Stress and Anxiety
Alisha introduced her parents to this great Yoga teacher who taught them a crucial life lesson:
“You will see many people around you who are sad, depressed, anxious, or have been through a trauma. There can be several reasons for this. Older people accumulate grudges because of various experiences. In a life that spans many years, you will find people who love you, betray you, hate you, think highly of you, or make fun of you. Most people accumulate negative thoughts in their minds and focus on them, which makes them irritable and short-tempered as they become old. One of the many techniques that our ancestors developed helps one overcome all negativity and ill feelings. This technique is called Yog Nidra or Yogic Sleep.”
Yogic sleep is the practice of examining oneself with closed eyes. While focusing on the breath, one can send positive energy to each part of the body and mind and expel negative energy while breathing out. The practice takes a person into a state of deep relaxation that leads to the rejuvenation of one’s physical and mental self in a way that can refresh one’s memory and make life-altering changes in a person’s life. This is a powerful practice that can heal the mind and help restore mental health.
Benefits of Yogic Sleep in Old Age
Alisha's parents started practicing Yog Nidra every day. Other than the practice of yogic sleep, they also adopted other practices of yoga, such as the exercise of laughing loudly every day. They experienced reduced stress and anxiety very soon. The practice helped heal their mind and restored mental health.
Thanks to the yogic practices, they started leading better lives, something for which Alisha will always be grateful to the universe.
The following video will help you learn the basic practice of Yog Nidra.
Instructions for Yogic Sleep
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.