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Having trouble getting a good night’s rest? Or planning to go to bed by a certain time but instead getting swept up in endlessly scrolling on your phone? Getting enough rest is no joke. But here are three reasons from Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda on why making rest a priority can change the game for you.
1. Practice napping, especially if you have a demanding schedule.
Getting stuck in an unhealthy cycle of staying up late, either out of routine or force of habit, and then oversleeping and waking up without ever feeling refreshed is definitely not putting faith into correct practice in daily life. … Recently, there has been some focus on the benefits of “mini-naps”—brief naps of 5 or 10 minutes’ duration—in promoting health and productivity. The key is to make good use of rest periods during the day so that you can take care of your health.
2. How can you get enough sleep?
The key is to give your all to every moment and to work efficiently. Many people go about their days absentmindedly or working in a halfhearted manner. But it is better to live with the spirit that now may be the last moment of your life and consistently do your best to get things done as quickly as possible. The energy to live this way comes from chanting [Nam-myoho-renge-kyo] earnestly. Mornings are especially important. … It also helps to avoid watching television into the late hours of the night or keeping late hours generally. … Buddhism is reason. A Buddhist practitioner cultivates self-discipline.
The New Human Revolution, vol. 17, pp. 316-18
3. Taking care of our health is part of our Buddhist practice.
From the Buddhist perspective, your life is important. And resting is a part of resting and valuing your life. Ikeda makes this point that pushing ourselves to unreasonable limits of exhaustion only harms our health.
He offers this practical advice and how our twice-daily practice of gongyo, reciting excerpts from the Lotus Sutra, can help:
Try not to eat late at night, pay attention to nutritional balance, and when you’re tired, make sure you get plenty of rest. The important thing is not to let fatigue accumulate. Our daily gongyo should also be the source for living vibrant and exhilarating lives. Gongyo is beneficial to both our spiritual and physical health.
My Dear Friends in America, p. 354
If you’ve been having a hard time sleeping, don’t worry you’re not doomed. Try putting away your phone and chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to develop the self-discipline to put your all in what’s in front of you and prioritize going to bed at a reasonable time.
This isn’t easy but if we try it each day, before you know it, our good intentions will become a healthy habit that we keep for our entire lives.