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How To Stay Awake, Alert, And Pay Attention

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  • medit8ionsociety
    This was one of the first articles that we ever published in our newsletter, The Inner Traveler. This subject came up at work today due to a 60 Minute story
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 16, 2008
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      This was one of the first articles that we ever
      published in our newsletter, The Inner Traveler.
      This subject came up at work today due to a
      60 Minute story yesterday about lack of sleep
      being a great factor in mistakes in the workplace,
      while driving, etc. I hope it can be beneficial
      to you. Enjoy!

      How To Stay Awake, Alert, And Pay Attention Even
      If You're Feeling The Urge To Sleep

      There is an ancient story about a man who
      was very holy, humble, selfless, and charitable.
      He had only one shortcoming and that was his
      fondness for sleep. As a matter of fact, every
      time he sat down he got himself so comfortable
      that he dozed off. This was a problem because
      while he slept, he wasn't able to increase his
      wisdom or do good deeds. He was quite sure though
      that all the good deeds he did would offset the
      squandered opportunities that his sleepyheadedness
      cost him and that he would still get to spend
      eternity in heaven. As happens to all, one day
      he died. Sure enough, he ascended to heaven and
      soon found himself before the pearly gates. The
      gatekeeper told him that he must be ready to enter
      because the gates to heaven only open once every
      one hundred years. The man said he was ready and
      sat down to await his entry into eternal bliss.
      But as was his habit, he soon got himself so
      comfortable that he started to doze off. The very
      instant he fell asleep, the gates opened and then
      snapped close. He had missed his heavenly opportunity.
      It is unquestionable that we too make ourselves
      so nice and comfy that we are prone to missing our
      own golden opportunity moments.

      There is an alternative. We can wake up. And if
      we start dozing off, due to our too-comfortable
      habitual postures, we can flick an inner switch
      and energize. To understand the methodology, let's
      study that spiritual instruction titled "The Princess
      and the Pea".

      Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was
      a beautiful young girl who had become lost while
      traveling. As the sun set and the moon rose, she
      happened upon a splendid castle. After knocking on
      the massive doors and being brought inside, she
      found out that this was the castle of the king of
      the country she had been passing through. The king
      came to see the visitor. After exchanging greetings,
      the girl claimed to be a princess of a neighboring
      country and asked for royal treatment. The king sought
      the advice of his trusted counselors, who suggested
      putting her to a test. As it was very late at night
      and the girl was tired, they prepared a bedroom for
      the girl that would reveal the validity of her claim
      to royalty. Unbeknownst to the girl, they placed a
      pea under a mattress and then put more mattresses on
      top. The young girl was then helped to the top of the
      mattresses and wished pleasant dreams. When the sun
      came up, the counselors came to the room and asked
      her how she slept. The girl said that she hadn't slept
      at all and that she had felt an annoying irritation
      that kept her awake all through the night. This was
      the proof the counselors had been looking for, because
      only a royal being could be sensitive enough to be
      aware of a pea under ten mattresses. The king was
      elated and offered the princess his son's hand in
      marriage and thus the kingdom. The princess found
      the prince the most wonderful, handsome, wise man in
      the world and quickly accepted. They married and lived
      happily ever after.

      There is a great amount of spiritual knowledge
      that we can learn from this story. In fact, it
      has the potential to change our lives for the
      better so that we too will live happily ever afterÂ…

      The princess represents anyone who is lost and
      out of touch with their spiritual nature. Her
      journey is her quest for Enlightenment. The castle
      and the country are the kingdom of heaven within.
      It is necessary to stay awake to pass the test that
      will cause you to gain the Kings approval, marry
      into the royal family and share in control of the
      infinite, eternal kingdom. The night represents the
      time of ignorance of knowing our true royal idenity.
      There are many more analogies to be drawn from the
      tale but the one to now focus in on is the one that
      will help us stay awake. It was a minor annoyance
      that kept the princess awake all through the night,
      until the sun, representing the truth, came up. For
      us, it is right now even if the physical sun is out.
      We are in darkness, unaware of our true nature and
      must find a way to stay awake. The clue is the pea.
      It wasn't necessary to use a bed of nails, or any
      other severe austerity to make the princess stay awake.
      So all we must do is find a pea to put under our mattress.

      Let's go back to our original contention that we
      are much too comfortable. This is due to our habitually
      adopting physical postures that are condusive to
      falling asleep and much too relaxing to keep up a
      state of alertness. The antidote and key to being
      awake is simply to recognize your sleep inducing
      habits and then reverse them.

      The Unnatural Positions Meditation

      A sure way to relax your body is to have your arms
      and legs relaxed. If your extremities are tension-free,
      so will be your mind and emotions, and you will
      tend to become drowsy and sleepy. So, for example,
      when we are in a business meeting, we habitually sit
      in a way that we have become used to, and invariably
      soon have to fight the urge to fall asleep. Let's do
      a demonstration. Right now, cross your legs the way
      you always do. You will have either your right leg
      over your left or vice versa. Or, you will have your
      right ankle over your left, or vice versa. Feels
      good, right? Now, interlace your fingers. Your right
      thumb will be over your left thumb, your right index
      finger over your left, and so on, or vice versa. Now
      just sit there for about 108 seconds and enjoy how
      relaxing your habitual posture is, and how comfortable
      it makes you feel.

      Now, cross your legs and interlace your fingers
      the opposite way. So, if you usually have your
      right foot crossed over your left and have your
      left thumb over your right, now put your left
      foot over your right and interlace all your
      fingers starting with your right thumb over your
      left. Now sit there for about 108 seconds.

      O.K. Fine, now you see. It is only a small change,
      just as a pea under a mattress is, but it is
      annoying enough to keep you awake. Now you can pay
      attention. You will not be able to fall asleep
      even if you want to. We are so habituated to our
      comfy conditioning manner of sitting that anything
      that is different makes a huge impression on us,
      overly annoying us and thus waking us up. So now
      you can pay attention to the boss, the teacher,
      the priest, or your mother-in-law, or whomever.
      But most importantly you can now pay attention
      to the present moment, and it is only in the present
      that your merging with the universe will take place.
      You must be present to receive this divine, truly
      royal present. This little change in physical
      discomfort can lead to your eternal spiritual
      comfort. Try it, be annoyed, wake up, and live
      happily ever after.
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