Why Meditate If We Can Just Sleep? Here Is The Difference
Recently someone asked on Reddit: "how is meditation is different from sleep?" Their justification was that "sometimes I feel better when I take a nap than to meditate."
If meditation was as easy as sleeping then we would have unlocked our highest selves and wouldn't need a spiritual evolution. So how is meditation more than beneficial than sleep? Let's find out.
Sleep Is Only For Rest
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"You're comparing apples and oranges. Sleep is for rest. Meditation is an awareness/consciousness exercise." - LarryLonn / Reddit
Sleep alone can't alleviate stress. It simply provides us with enough rest that we'll have the energy to cope. This is because stress happens from increased levels of cortisol that can disrupt sleep and promote fatigue, cloudy thinking, depression and anxiety. Meditation, on the other hand, has been shown to decrease those levels of stress.
Meditation Is For Inner Peace
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On a more spiritual level that cannot be compared with the simple state of sleeping: "to Meditate is to focus on your own mind and find the inner peace/inner voice of your mind. So, to meditate one needs to have a good deal of focusing ability. Focusing is a skill. One cannot learn it in a day and embark on the journey to meditation. It's like painting, seldom are born with inborn talent, yet most famous painters are those who have practiced throughout their life.
One should focus their mind on one thing alone, be it a flame, a dot, an image, or just closed eyes and focusing on different chakras. Since we are focusing on the same thing that enables focus, we will encounter troubles like the distraction of thoughts and feelings of discontent." - Mundane_Pomelo_8083 / Reddit
Sleep Can Be The First Step To Meditation
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Sleep and meditation actually have a beautiful mutually beneficial relationship. Regular meditation practice can enhance the quality of our sleep, while sleeping sets the tone for more productive meditation sessions. However, one cannot completely substitute the other.
"When you enter REM stages of sleep, it can help you to process your day/recent events, much like EMDR. I take naps to help me to cope with a feeling of being overwhelmed but use meditation to help to manage myself so that I don't become overwhelmed to begin with. The primary difference between sleep and meditation is that in meditation, we remain alert, awake, and aware—while in sleep, we lack alertness, and instead fall into dullness and non-awareness." - TempDetect
Meditation Restores Focus
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"Meditation is done with a focused mind whereas sleep is done with a wandering mind." - psilocin72
Unless we have carefully mastered the act of astral projection, and have taken control of our dreams, two abilities that are unlocked through meditation, then we likely have no control over the way our mind travels in our dreams. Sleep creates dreams that are made of random connections between our subconscious thoughts. Meditation allows us to draw those connections purposely and focus on their meaning.
Awareness Vs Consciousness
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"Sleep won't train you to live in a moment and be mindful. It won't make you enlightened either," said one Redditor to which another replied, "keep meditating regularly, you will understand in time."
There is a difference between being aware of our sleep, our thoughts, and our actions and through meditation becoming conscious of their meaning and intention in order to take control of them.
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The biggest lesson of all is that sleep won't make us better people, but meditation has the power to ignite a light within. In fact certain types of meditation can especially increase positive feelings and actions toward ourselves and others.
Metta for example is a type of meditation that is known as loving-kindness meditation. It develops kind thoughts and feelings towards ourselves and through practice, it can be extended into external kindness and forgiveness towards others. Think of how much better the world could be if we all took a few minutes each day to meditate.