Lately I’ve been cultivating a new practice skill – bringing joy and ease into situations when I’m really tired and worn out. This isn’t an all together new practice for me but perhaps a better way to put it is that I’m delving into a deeper level of it. The great thing about practicing anything is that with diligence you can find yourself discovering new levels and new insights that unfold as a result of the ongoing time you spend cultivating whatever it is you’re cultivating. Whether it’s learning a new job, instrument, craft, hobby, sport, or mindfulness practice skill the more we practice the more we keep practicing and the more possibility there is for benefits to arise.
I’ve recently started a new job, working as a TA (teacher’s aid) in a local middle school. I work part time, 3 days a week, which is just what I was looking for. Not only do I feel that working full time would be detrimental for my health (as I have an ongoing nerve disease and also an immune system illness) but I also want to have time to care for my husband and 15-year old stepson, and maintain time for interests and areas of volunteer work that are enjoyable and important to me. Naturally, all of this can sometimes lead to full days and getting overly tired (hitting that metaphorical brick wall).
Looking back I can see how my patterns of habit have changed when these brick wall moments occur. It used to be that when my pain levels went up or I was exhausted, or both, that I became a real bitch (for lack of a better term). I would be short and rude to my husband and terribly unpleasant to be around, causing the household energy to become very heavy and tense. Over time I began using my practice to develop a relationship with my pain levels and tiredness, my usage of time, my habit energies and knee jerk reactions to stimulus. It has been a long process, like most things are.
Mindfulness is a powerfully transformative and amazing tool – it’s a deep deep well. I’m now at the point that when pain or tiredness arises I am aware of their presence and am able to smile to those challenging energies and embrace them as part of my human experience. I then practice to do something different, in order to help care for and support my physical and mental states of being. Maybe that means making time to rest, canceling an item on my to-do list, changing my schedule, or doing something that brings me joy like singing, dancing, listening to music, writing, going for a walk, or watching an episode of the Golden Girls (ya know that show series from the 80’s :). Recognize, embrace, water skillful seeds, repeat! Or with a little more detail: Recognize (and be patient), embrace (and be patient), and water skillful seeds (and…be patient). It will take time. And since we probably only partially heard that last part I’ll say it again: It will take time.
Breathing in I generate ease
Breathing out I smile :)