Befriending your feelings

Isle of Skye Meditation Have you ever found yourself asking the question “why do I feel so tired? You can take a deep breath and know that you are not alone. I have never talked about this on this blog but I suffered from sleepiness and tiredness. When I told my GP about the tiredness he asked me:  “Do you have a problem with self-esteem?” and I answered “Yes, I have a problem, I have a lot of self-esteem” and we both laughed.  Feeling sleepiness is pretty uncomfortable, but I discovered that actually, there is something that makes things even worse; and that is thinking: “Why me?” “Why do I feel sleepy? Why am I tired” “Why am I not full of energy like I used to be?” Of course all these thoughts are attempts to solve the “problem” but they work like the double arrow that produces double pain, more sleepiness, more sluggishness and sometimes despair of Morrysseyesque dimensions: “there must be something horribly wrong with me“.

Although I had never considered I had a problem of self-esteem, I realised that the rumination that the mind creates around the sleepiness is a form of self-demeaningness that certainly does not help me feel more awake and it certainly does not help me feel better. The reactivity does not help to bring healing, but approaching the raw sensations of sleepiness, tiredness and sluggishness with non-attachment does help. I close my eyes to connect and experience the sensations very directly. I observe. Whenever the commentary starts I also observe. I try to see the harsh comments as part of the rumination and I step back. I then open my eyes and continue with whatever I am doing. By allowing myself to pause for a moment I am establishing a conscious relationship with the sleepiness and the tiredness and I give myself the opportunity to find a space where I am not that and therefore I can connect more deeply to who I am.

A few years ago I met Alejandro Jodorowsky -the craziest and most creative film maker, psycho magician, actor and tarot expert in the planet- and I told him about my the tiredness. “Can you see that the tiredness is your friend? It is trying to tell you something. It is reminding you that you are alive and it is sending signals to you. Are you happy doing the things that you do? Start doing the things that you like doing. Tiredness is your friend. Befriend your tiredness”.

I must say that it takes courage and it takes discipline and practice to befriend your feelings and to really stop asking yourself questions about them; especially if you studied your whole life to think critically about everything (yep, I specialised in Literary Criticism). But guess what? the more you practice friendliness towards feeling in meditation,  the easier it becomes to not take things personally. When the feeling starts creeping up I begin to also notice that I have spent far too much time indoors so I go for a walk and come back feeling refreshed. Walking in nature (in my case the Meadows) makes you feel more connected with the world around you and less separate, less important. It is funny but I am discovering that self-demeaningness is actually another form of inflated ego and that is enough material for another post so I will just finish with a quote:

Wisdom tells me I am nothing, love tells me I am everything; between the two my life flows. Nisargadatta Maharaj