So in a previous post I wrote, The Technology of Spirituality, I outlined how spirituality works, and the elements of inertia, stimulation and harmony, which are the three spiritual elements of nature according to Hindu texts. In Sanskrit, the term is tamas and it is associated with indulgence, laziness and lack of self-control.
I mentioned that inertia is necessary because it is what makes you sleep – and if you are lacking inertia, you can’t sleep, rest or relax.
However inertia sometimes sneaks up when you don’t need it, inertia comes up – like falling asleep in a statistics lecture or when you suffer from two-thirty-itis at work!
However when inertia goes out of control, and there is an excess of it, there are escalating effects. There are various Excess Inertia Levels (EIL’s):
EIL 1: Regular Laziness and Lethargy
Ever notice how sometimes you can’t be bothered, or you feel lazy? Now I know every once in a while, that is ok to sometimes just feel lazy – but if it is regular laziness and lethargy – like 4-5 times a week, then that is a reflection of excess inertia.
We actually make a point of it in our vocabulary by saying “I can’t be bothered” or “I’d rather just go back to bed” or something to that extent.
However too much of laziness and lethargy can lead to the next level:
EIL 2: Procrastination
Now everyone procrastinates, it’s a natural thing to put things off. The problem arises when one puts off too much too consistently, and when it means you’re putting off really important tasks then there’s trouble.
Saying “I’ll get to it later” or “I’ll do that tomorrow” is fine when you have too much on your plate and it’s a matter of time management, but when you don’t have anything else to do and you’re procrastinating, you know you have a real issue here.
When you procrastinate too much, you’ll find that it leads to the next level:
EIL 3: Loss of Interest
Again, loss of interest is natural when people outgrow their current situation. Like losing interest in fads and trends, girlfriends / boyfriends, TV shows, particular habits and hobbies.
I mean, if at my age I was still interested in watching children’s TV and doing finger painting then I have a reason to be worried…
We’ve all had a loss of interest in something – something that we’ve outgrown or something that we thought we’d like but found out that we didn’t.
It’s losing interest on a consistent basis that leads to a loss of passion, a loss of drive – it’s that loss of interest that is a concern. When what really drives you is no longer motivating you on a constant basis, the there is a real need for concern.
This excess of inertia can lead to the next level:
EIL 4: Depression
OK, this is where we get to the serious and not so funny stuff.
According to Beyond Blue, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 8 males will will suffer from depression in their life time.
Over 1 million adults and over 160,000 youth suffer from depression each year.
Those are serious stats and not something to just shrug off. It’s as common as diabetes and asthma.
But depression is an excess of inertia and if treated properly can be cured. The presence of an excess of inertia spiritually can cause depression.
If left unattended for a long time, depression can lead to the next level:
EIL 5: Self-Harm and Suicidal Tendencies
There’s a lot of statistics out there on suicide, and to me I think it’s one of the worst actions a person could take, both for themselves and for their loved ones.
Obviously, there’s no going back, and the pain for those left behind is haunting.
Death is hard enough for people to handle, but suicide is even harder.
Suicide and self-harm are serious social issues that don’t go away by ignoring it either.
But here’s the spiritual view on it: all of this happens because of an excess of inertia. We’ve all heard that everything must be taken in moderation, and inertia is necessary, but an excess is dangerous.
My Personal Experience of Inertia
From my own experience, living with excess inertia starts off as harmless, but sends you on a bit of a downward spiral.
There’s been countless times when I’ve had a big filling meal and a couple of glasses of wine, and that sends me into this comatose sleep, and the next morning I can’t get up but have to force myself out of bed. As if running late wasn’t enough, I decide to cut my exercise to get to my morning meeting on time.
My metabolism is already slow, and then, as I’ve forgotten to pack my own lunch because I was running late – I decide to have something from the takeaway shop. Cheap and nasty stuff because I can’t be bothered going to look for something more nutritious, because I’m too tired from the lack of sleep.
When two-thirty-itis kicks in, I need a cup of tea or something to keep me awake. I know people who reach for a chocolate bar, or a can of coke, or a coffee. Productivity drops, so I’m stuck in the office a little longer, trying to get things finished.
I get home, and I can’t be bothered doing much. I whinge about how bad my day has been because I’m so tired, and I’ve been unproductive, so I get down on myself and decide that I need to unwind with some TV and some comfort food or a drink.
At dinner, I scoff down my dinner and decide that I’m going to take an early night, so I head straight to bed, and next morning when the alarm goes I can’t be bothered to get out of bed for my morning exercise… and the downward cycle begins, and it’s hard to break when you don’t recognised it yourself!
How I Like My Inertia
Think of that lazy Sunday morning where everything seems to be chilled out, and then you decide to go to the beach, and just want to lie down and do nothing as the soft breeze brushes against you and the sound of the rolling waves rhythmically lulling you into a light sleep, where you’re completely aware of what’s going on, but you’re just totally… relaxed…
That type of inertia seems pretty normal. And it is normal. There is nothing wrong with inertia, it just needs to be controlled.