Recently, I jumped into a conversation on the Cross Fit message boards about sleep. Many argue that athletes need more sleep. I argue that most Americans needs more sleep. In fact, almost everybody I've ever met needs more rest in general. The most exceptional people I know get plenty of rest, which I believe is key to success.
Between sleep and my twice daily practice of Transcendental Meditation (an effortless, restful experience) I spend 12-13 hours a day with my eyes shut. I don't make exceptions. I don't compromise anymore. I've never felt better.
Most find this to be excessive. "How can you possibly have time to do everything during the day?" I am constantly asked. They are shocked to learn that my typical "workday" is about 4-5 hours. I play music for 1-2 more hours, and I work out for about an hour. I also spend as much time as I like with friends and family.
I have chosen to prioritize my state of awareness over my external accomplishments. When all of my waking hours are experienced from my peak mental state, I accomplish everything I need to do in less time. It's a question of quality versus quantity. I've chosen skilled work over excessive of work, focus over fatigue, and rest over everything else.
Let me be clear. Rest = success. Fatigue = failure. This concept applies both internally and externally - your success in life is dictated entirely by the quality of your state of mind.
I began Transcendental Meditation and learned to prioritize rest two years ago. Since then:
1. I've achieved the best shape of my life.
2. I work less and earn WAY more money.
3. I almost never feel upset, angry, or grumpy.
4. My GPA skyrocketed.
5. I quit smoking effortlessly.
6. Did I mention that I feel AWESOME?
My point is that YOUR STATE OF AWARENESS IS PREREQUISITE TO EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. If you learn to prioritize the way you FEEL and the LEVEL OF MENTAL CLARITY you experience, there is never any reason to "work hard" or "push through" anything . . . it all falls into place on its own. Your decision making improves, and your living circumstances begin to reflect that very quickly. Do less, accomplish more. It's very simple.
Let me make an analogy. Imagine somebody running on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day. This person decides that they want to bench press their body weight. Their solution is that they need to spend more time on the treadmill. So, they sacrifice their hobby to spend another 20 minutes running every day. When they go to lift the weight, it doesn't go up. So, they start sacrificing sleep to run another 20 minutes. Again, no results on the bench. In fact, they start to feel tired, become irritable, and quickly fall into serious illness - usually depression. "I'm working so hard!" they say. "There must be something wrong with my body."
Now, imagine that happening to somebody's ENTIRE LIFE. Their state of awareness limits their ability to see the larger picture. They work a job that is usually unrewarding because they "need the money" (as if there is no other way to get it). They figure that society is too messed up, that they aren't smart enough, etc. The solution is usually that they have to spend more time doing things they know they don't want to do. For many, it all boils down to "I need to work more." It almost always includes the loss of sleep - due to the guilt they feel for eliminating the things they find meaningful in favor of excessive work, and also because "there aren't enough hours in the day." The cycle worsens over time. Eventually, the body is so stressed and the individual so confused that they are incapable of seeing the suffering they are causing themselves. It's a fast track to all forms of illness - most commonly depression.
To me, this is a perpetual tragedy. It is the fastest way to destroy personal integrity and halt personality development. Problems continuously manifest for all of us - just ask Lacan. When the mind is fatigued, decisions are poor. Things go wrong, and the mind cannot find optimal solutions.
On the other hand, when the mind is clear, decisions improve. These outcomes accumulate quickly to build internal confidence and external successes.
Maharishi explains best.
Clearly, mental fatigue is the enemy of happiness and success. When life is lived in a state of perpetual peak experience, inner joy takes control of the problems we face form the environment.