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The Sleep Mindset – An excerpt from Ritual

Do you lack motivation on Monday? Are Monday morning blues making you dizzy? While at your work desk, all you can think about is the warm cocoon of your bed, but the moment the moon is at its apex you cannot sleep. Are you also one of the many people who cannot sleep at night and feel sleepy during the day? Being an author, columnist, and podcaster who has written on beauty and wellness for more than two decades, Vasudha Rai brings a solution to your sleeping problems and others to renew your mind, body and spirit through, Ritual: Daily Practices for Wellness, Beauty & Bliss. Here’s an excerpt from her book for a healthy sleep mindset.


Ritual: Daily Practices for Wellness, Beauty & Bliss
Ritual: Daily Practices for Wellness, Beauty & Bliss || Vasudha Rai

When we sleep well, we perform better the next day, our interpersonal relationships are better, we’re inspired to work out, eat healthy and make the right choices. On the contrary, when we don’t get enough sleep, we’re not inspired to do anything at all. The first step of sleep hygiene then is to put away your phone which will only happen when you are determined. Try replacing your smartphone or tablet with a book (especially one that is mildly academic/ slow paced). It may not be as stimulating as social media, but that is the whole point.

If you’re an overthinker, it may be a good idea to write down a list of things to do the next day, lest you forget. In Ayurveda, this is especially recommended for the ambitious pitta type. Vata types do well with a warm oil foot massage that works to ground their flight, anxious energy. Kapha types usually don’t have a problem falling asleep – for them the problem is oversleeping). But whether it’s journaling, meditation, massage, sound healing, the idea is to wind down and destress. The mind cannot run at a breakneck speed and then be expected to calm down and then help you fall asleep.

Someone like me who gets stimulated easily prefers to either read a non-fiction/ knowledge book or indulge in a sound bath before bed. Personally, I find that sometimes even reading on my phone is okay as long as I’m looking up information about beauty, health and wellness. For me these are comforting areas of interest. For you it could be language, astronomy or art history. If I get involved in an engaging conversation I stay awake longer. So even if I’m on my phone, I avoid social media because I don’t want to be faced with excitement, fear, revulsion, admiration, or any other stimulating information right before bed.

The big worry is if we will be able to sleep at all. Often the inability to fall asleep is what keeps us up all night. I remember reading an article about sleep management a while back on a particular night that I spent tossing and turning. It was almost 4am and I couldn’t bear the thought of listening to the birdsong in the morning after a night I had laid awake. So I picked up my phone and looked up ‘What can you do when you can’t sleep all night’. Among the various tips the author had given one line stood out so beautifully that I remember it to this day. A somnologist said something on the lines of ‘ultimately you will go to sleep at some point, it may not come soon enough but it will come for sure’. I felt comforted by that and have worried a little bit lesser since then.

The paradox is that when we try to stay up is when we fall asleep the soonest. So my trick when I’m wakeful in the middle of the night is to do something, instead of just tossing around in bed. I keep a heavy academic book, with difficult concepts in my bedside drawer. It could also be an old, classic novel. Something heavy and verbose always makes me feel drowsy. But that’s just me, we are all different and have different needs. Think about it like this – we feel the sleepiest when we’re trying to stay awake. So instead of tossing and turning waiting for it to come, engage yourself in something boring. You could step out of the room for a few minutes, lie down and listen to a guided meditation, journal your thoughts. If you wake up in the middle of the night and aren’t able to go to sleep, try one of these, or anything else that does not involve a screen.


Get your copy of Ritual from your nearest bookstore or Amazon.

5 Ruskin Bond Quotes we’ve Written in Our Journal

Remember the last time you stood and quietly watched the rain patter on the empty streets? Remember the last time you watched a snail lazily drag itself across the grass?
It is hard to find time to appreciate the smaller things in life, and that is precisely where Ruskin Bond’s book Words From the Hills helps us. In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, the words from this specially designed journal come as a breath of fresh air, bringing with them the philosophy and legacy of the wonderful author.
Here are 5 quotes from Ruskin Bond we all must have thought of writing in our journals.

Which quote are you going to write in your journal?

"Where are the words I wrote yesterday?"

Do you remember the last time you took a moment from your busy life to celebrate its little joys?
Ruskin Bond gives us a solution with ‘Words From the Hills’ — a journal that urges you to stop, take a breath, and appreciate the gift of life.
Here’s a short snippet from the book and a prompt for you to pick it up, if you haven’t already!
When I opened my window, the wind came in and snatched my words away. And perhaps that’s where all words go in the end—over the hills and far away, to be lost forever.
A few stray words found their way to the desks of Penguin’s editor Premanka Goswami and design head
Ahlawat Gunjan, and these good souls decided to preserve them for no special reason other than that they were words of love and joy (if not wisdom), and had emanated from my abode in the hills and lent themselves to lyrical watercolours from Ahlawat’s favourite paintbox.
Among other favourite things, he has depicted the rubber plant that flourishes on my bedroom wall. I am not
sure if it wants to make love to me, or simply strangle me. When I returned from a trip to Delhi (or rather Gurgaon,
where everything seems to happen now), I found the rubber plant had spread its tentacles across my pillow, almost as though it was lying in wait for me.
As this is a book of a few words and many colours, I must make this introduction a brief one. The book is really intended for your words, dear reader, and you will find that we have given you the freedom of every page, with space for you to put down your thoughts, feelings and observations before they are carried away by the wind.
This is your book, and the words and decorations are simply there to persuade you to use it.
Ruskin Bond
Ivy Cottage, Landour
August 2017

Inspiring, isn’t it? So grab a pen and get started, because every memory is worth remembering.

The Boy Who Loved — An Exclusive Excerpt

1 January 1999
Hey Raghu Ganguly (that’s me),
I am finally putting pen to paper. The scrunch of the sheets against the fanged nib, the slow absorption of the ink, seeing these unusually curved letters, is definitely satisfying; I’m not sure if writing journal entries to myself like a schizophrenic is the answer I’m looking for. But I have got to try. My head’s dizzy from riding on the sinusoidal wave that has been my life for the last two years. On most days I look for ways to die—the highest building around my house, the sharpest knife in the kitchen, the nearest railway station, a chemist shop that would unquestioningly sell twenty or more sleeping pills to a sixteen-year-old, a packet of rat poison—and on some days I just want to be scolded by Maa–Baba for not acing the mathematics exam, tell Dada how I will beat his IIT score by a mile, or be laughed at for forgetting to take the change from the bania’s shop.
I’m Raghu and I have been lying to myself and everyone around me for precisely two years now. Two years since my best friend of four years died, one whose friendship I thought would outlive the two of us, engraved forever in the space– time continuum. But, as I have realized, nothing lasts forever. Now lying to others is fine, everyone does that and it’s healthy and advisable—how else are you going to survive the suffering in this cruel, cruel world? But lying to yourself? That shit’s hard, that will change you, and that’s why I made the resolution to start writing a journal on the first of this month, what with the start of a new year and all, the last of this century.
I must admit I have been dilly-dallying for a while now and not without reason. It’s hard to hide things in this house with Maa’s sensitive nose never failing to sniff out anything Dada, Baba or I have tried to keep from her. If I were one of those kids who live in palatial houses with staircases and driveways I would have plenty of places to hide this journal, but since I am not, it will have to rest in the loft behind the broken toaster, the defunct Singer sewing machine and the empty suitcases.
So Raghu, let’s not lie to ourselves any longer, shall we? Let’s say the truth, the cold, hard truth and nothing else, and see if that helps us to survive the darkness. If this doesn’t work and I lose, checking out of this life is not hard. It’s just a seven-storey drop from the roof top, a quick slice of the wrist, a slip on the railway track, a playful ingestion of pills or the accidental consumption of rat poison away. But let’s try and focus on the good.
Durga. Durga.
12 January 1999
Today was my first day at the new school, just two months before the start of the tenth-standard board exams. Why Maa– Baba chose to change my school in what’s said to be one of the most crucial year in anyone’s academic life is amusing to say the least—my friendlessness. 
‘If you don’t make friends now, then when will you?’ Maa said. They thought the lack of friends in my life was my school’s problem and had nothing to do with the fact that my friend had been mysteriously found dead, his body floating in the still waters of the school swimming pool. He was last seen with  me. At least that’s what my classmates believe and say. Only I know the truth.
When Dada woke me up this morning, hair parted and sculpted to perfection with Brylcreem, teeth sparkling, talcum splotches on his neck, he was grinning from ear to ear. Unlike me he doesn’t have to pretend to be happy. Isn’t smiling too much a sign of madness? He had shown the first symptoms when he picked a private-sector software job over a government position in a Public Sector. Undertaking which would have guaranteed a lifetime of unaccountability. Dada may be an IITian but he’s not the smarter one of us. 
‘Are you excited about the new school, Raghu? New uniform, new people, new everything? Of course you’re excited! I never quite liked your old school. You will make new friends here,’ said Dada with a sense of happiness I didn’t feel. ‘Sure. If they don’t smell the stench of death on me.’ ‘Oh, stop it. It’s been what? Over two years? You know how upset Maa–Baba get,’ said Dada. ‘Trust me, you will love your new school! And don’t talk about Sami at the breakfast table.’ ‘I was joking, Dada. Of course I am excited!’ I said, mimicking his happiness.
Dada falls for these lies easily because he wants to believe them. Like I believed Maa–Baba when they once told me, ‘We really liked Sami. He’s a nice boy.’ Sami, the dead boy, was never liked by Maa–Baba. For Baba it was enough that his parents had chosen to give the boy a Muslim name. Maa had more valid concerns like his poor academic performance, him getting caught with cigarettes in his bag, and Sami’s brother being a school dropout. Despite all the love they showered on me in the first few months after Sami’s death, I thought I saw what could only be described as relief that Sami, the bad influence, was no longer around. Now they use his name to their advantage. ‘Sami would want you to make new friends,’ they would say. I let Maa feed me in the morning. It started a few days after Sami’s death and has stuck ever since.
Maa’s love for me on any given day is easily discernible from the size of the morsels she shoves into my mouth. Today the rice balls and mashed potatoes were humungous. She watched me chew like I was living art. And I ate because I believe the easiest way to fool anyone into not looking inside and finding that throbbing mass of sadness is to ingest food. A person who eats well is not truly sad. While we ate, Baba lamented the pathetic fielding placement of the Indian team and India’s questionable foreign policy simultaneously.
‘These bloody Musalmans, these filthy Pakistanis! They shoot our soldiers…
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