Lounging on a Bed of Nails

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I needed to take a break from digital media this summer, so I took some time away from the screen. I needed to smell the salt in the air and feel the warmth of the sun. I also needed to get back to my yogic roots.

Above: a photo of me napping poolside.

Okay, that’s not me –but it felt like it was, at times.

The Sleep Number/ Select Comfort Mattress 

Have you ever tried to get comfortable in your life, tossed and turned, and ended up feeling like you were lounging on a bed of nails? No matter what you did, your decidedly pokey circumstances circumvented the aaaah you sought. Me, too.

Flat on my back: pokey.

Turned to the side: pokey.

Propped up with a pillow: still pokey.

Your instinct might be to get off the bed –to change your external circumstances. If you can do it, that works for awhile.


You find yourself in a new circumstance, this time submerged neck deep in a cold river wearing nothing but your favorite loincloth.

I know! I hate it when that happens.

The point is to make peace with the poke. Or with the parky.

Because no matter how carefully you manage your life, no matter what level of so-called success you enjoy, happiness and distress will appear and disappear like the winter and summer seasons. Discomfort spares no one. Be ready for it.

mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya
āgamāpāyino ‘nityās
tāḿs titikṣasva bhārata  
~Bhagavad-gita 2.14

“O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.”

But How? 

The gentleman in the photo above is lying on a actual bed of nails so that when life presents him with a metaphorical bed of nails, he’ll know how to find the self behind his story.

He is using austerity (tapasya) as a tool to withdraw his senses (pratyahara) and cultivate his inner landscape.

Please don’t try this at home.

Life in the world brings with it abrasion enough.

In pratyahara we withdraw our attention from external distractions, both irritants and stimulants. In dharana we consciously focus that attention on a particular object, such as a mantra.

Just Add Water.

Krishna. Or Jesus. Or Allah. Or יהוה‎…

It’s your call.

Because once you get this higher taste, the things of this world, both “good” and “bad,” will no longer hold sway over you. rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya param drstva nivartate.

And those metaphorical nails of material life?

If you fall in love with the source of love, it may be seen that everything is coming to assist you; that your environment is friendly –adversity, discomfort and all.


And in other news….

The Girl Effect is the radical, hopeful idea that the most effective solution to global poverty is investing in the education and safety of girls in the developing world. You are invited to join the Girl Effect Blogging Campaign and write about the Girl Effect on October 4th, at your blog. Sign up hereThen tweet about this campaign and use the hashtag, #girleffect. 

Learn more at girleffect.org 

This entry was posted in the Friendly Mind and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lounging on a Bed of Nails

  1. You make it sound easy Rupa. I suppose in one sense it is. I’m just a slow learner. I think I need a few more lifetimes of practice ;-)

    • Rupa says:

      Simple maybe, but definitely not easy! I’m with you, Marianne. Sometimes I feel like I’m taking two steps forward and one step back…I do take solace, though, in the knowledge that we are, at all times, exactly where we need to be. :o)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s