By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM

Last night I slept very well. Last week I had spent many a restless night tossing in bed and counting sheep to invite sleep. My invitation remained unaccepted. As usual I left my bed at 0500 hrs to get ready for my morning constitutional. Shave and shampoo took no time as I am quite used to getting ready in a jiffy, thanks to puttee parades awarded by senior Gentlemen Cadets to me as a mild form of punishment for no rhyme or reason. When I became a GC appointment in my senior term at the Indian Military Academy I kept the tradition of puttee parades alive. In this procedure a junior termer has to change clothes in the shortest possible time and report to the senior cadet for further orders. Thus the junior cadets inducted into the academy were given training to change from one kind of uniform to another and be ready to receive orders. Thus one learnt to be spick ‘n span. We say that there is a method in madness in the Army.

The Academy anecdote narrated above was taken out of my memory of the Graduates Course in the late Fiftees when I was in my early twenties more than six decades ago. Now I am an Octogenarian and pray to Parmatma to be a Centenarian in good health. Jeevem Sharadah Shatam is the Vedic prayer. Of course, the prayer beseeches the Almighty to bestow health and happiness too so that I do not have to depend on anyone physically, mentally or financially. Adeenah Siam Sharadah Shatam is the operative part for leading an independent life.

I do not have to underline the importance of sleep in living a healthy and happy life. Let us concentrate on Health for the time being. One has to go through the regimen of a good dose of exercise, an intake of health promoting diet and keeping the mind free from stress and tension.

Please make it a point to leave your bed early, preferably with the first light and before sunrise. One has to have a good night’s sleep in order to leave the bed early in good shape ready to exercise the body and mind in fresh air. What should be the quantum of sleep for a good start of the day in the morning, one may ask. There is no rule of the thumb in this matter and the period of sound sleep depends on an individual’s physical and mental health. I have had an opportunity to meet many men of religion who were well versed in the Yoga, especially the Ashtang Yoga of Maharishi Patanjali. Quite a few of them mentioned that their sleeping hours at night varied between four and six. That indeed was sufficient to keep them alert and ready to take on the challenges of life the following day.

A new-born baby perhaps sleeps for 23 hours out of 24 and smiles when it is time to open eyes. A child of growing age may sleep for 12 to 15 hrs a night. An adolescent sleeps a little less and an adult has 7 to 8 hrs a night of sleep to be healthy and alert for the next day’s work. As one advances in age, sleep eludes the old men and women. No wonder they remain sleepy eyed in day time. Never mind, there is a way out of this situation.

Dear Readers, please allow me to be personal a little and share my experiences with you. I retired from the Indian Army at the age of 56 holding the pensionable rank of a Brigadier and devoted my post-retirement life to Ved Prachar and took to gardening as a hobby. I did not serve a private company or a corporate house after serving the Nation under Government of India for over three decades. Obviously, the physical work that I did in the post-retirement life was much less as there was no PT nor games nor organized hill-hikes or hack rides. Apparently the life was going to be sedentary leading to ill health. There was no question of allowing that to happen to me since I still prayed twice a day and recited the Ved Mantras saying Jeevem Sharadah Shatam. A change in the routine had to be brought in. It was done.

The period of morning walk, PT table, Pranayam and Vyayam was increased from sixty minutes to 120 minutes. The gardening period too was doubled extending to about three hours including both the morning and evening periods. The intake of food was reduced and fatty substance reduced. It did wonders and I went to bed dead tired after my busy day schedule. I slept like a log night after night. I did not allow any political or social happening; good, bad or indifferent to dampen my enthusiasm for life and my schedule of uninterrupted sleep of seven hours or so. Of course, our socializing hours with fellow retired officers had to be cut down drastically. No sweat.

When I became a septuagenarian, the quantum of physical activity and gardening time had to be reduced. Consequently, the body was less tired and the period of sleep was not as uninterrupted as it used to be in the days gone by. Quite often I would get up at night and thereafter sleep would elude me for the rest of the night. I found a way out. I would do the Army PT table at midnight much to the amusement of my wife. Nevertheless, sleep came to my bleary eyes and the following morning saw me fit as a fiddle.

As an Octogenarian now, I stick to my schedule as described heretofore and get fairly good sleep at night. Moral of the story is: tire yourself before hitting the sack and sleep is bound to come.

The intake of food and the type of food are equally important in helping you live a healthy and happy life. Right from my boyhood days I have been hearing the maxim: Early to bed and early to rise is the way to be Healthy, Wealthy and Wise and it has stood me in good stead. I may not be wealthy but I earn enough as a pension from the government to make both ends meet.

I shall not tread on the dubious ground of prescribing Veg or Non-Veg diet but shall certainly quote ancient Vaidyas of repute like Dhanvantari, Charak and surgeons like Sushrut to help us what to eat and how much to eat. The words quoted are: Hit Bhook; Mit Bhook; Rit Bhook. It means one should eat only that food that is beneficial to body and mind; eat as little as your body requires and finally eat the food that has been bought with money earned honestly by sweat of the brow. I think it should be left to the individual to make a choice of edible items but I shall certainly recommend vegetarian meals and definitely cut out junk food. Most of the items served across the counter at the fast food joints like hamburgers, hot dogs etc do not make a man healthy. How can the food of fast food joints make an individual healthy in the long run. Catering to the palate is not the same as catering to the health requirements.

Stress and Tension have to be taken care of to live a healthy and happy life. I have come across individuals who buy Stress. In other words, they go out of their way to get roped in where their tour of duty does not take them. Accepting additional responsibility is one thing and is recommended but getting trapped into side shows is absolutely discouraged. Problem solving both in the office and at home is commendable but throwing the weight of rank to browbeat others into submission leads to buying troubles. It must be avoided at any cost.

If one does one’s job conscientiously and makes it a point not to interfere into other’s domain, the life will be free of stress and resultant tension. If one does one’s work honestly and makes it a point to not make money under the table, the life cannot but be free of tension.

Summing up, it can be said that a dose of good physical and mental exercise, intake of health-promoting food earned by sweat of the brow and not indulging into turf-war, saying one’s prayer or reciting Ved mantras in Sandhya twice a day will lead a man on the path of healthy and happy life. Do say Jeevem Sharadah Shatam……Adinah Siam Sharadah Shatam when you are at peace with yourself and the end result will be; You Will Be at PEACE WITH YOUR MAKER. SLEEP WELL SHUBH RATRI.

Email: Mob. 0-9811173590.


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