Sunday, October 9, 2011

When you're tired

know that you are tired (to extrapolate on the Buddha's teachings.)

and know that tired does not mean stupid, overly emotional, doomed to never ever going to the gym... only that you are tired. And that can change.

I know it's autumn because it's dark when I get up in the morning. That's a lot harder to do in the dark than when the room is already beginning to lighten up.

When I step outside, the sky is azure; the stars and planets are still visible. By the time I am driving to work, the sun is peeking over the horizon. It is a glorious reminder that every day is a new day and that beauty is there to be seen.

All that's true. But it's also true that I get the same number of hours of sleep as in the summer, and now I feel like I am sleepwalking through some of them. I want a nap. My brain is foggy. My body is sluggish. The energy valley in my days is deep.

I want to push through -- to finish the to-do list, go to the gym, meditate on something other than sleepiness. What is you problem? my ego asks. I'm tired, my body answers. I'm going to put off what can be put off and rest.

And that, dear ones, is practice.

In the Kayagatasati sutta the Buddha told his followers that practice is to know what you are doing as you are doing it, without providing commentary on what you should be doing instead or how what you are doing proves that you have a deep permanent moral stain because you always do that:

... The bhikkhu going knows, I go. Or standing knows, I stand. Or sitting knows, I sit. Or lying knows, I lie. In whatever manner his body is placed, that and that he knows...

Again the bhikkhu becomes aware, going forward or turning back, looking on, or looking about, bending or stretching, Becomes aware bearing the three robes and bowl, Becomes aware enjoying, drinking, eating or tasting. Becomes aware going, standing, sitting, lying, speaking, or keeping silence.

Back in the days that I spent in 12-step rooms, I often sat by a table sign with the letters HALT, which stood for hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Which meant that before you fell back upon habitual behavior, you should check in with yourself and see if any of those conditions were present. And if they were, you should know that and respond appropriately.

If hungry, eat something nourishing. If you're tired, don't push yourself to do things that you don't have the energy to do. Or at least recognize that if you're not able to do things at the level that you'd like, maybe there's a cause other than a flaw in your being. You're not stupid, your mind just isnt work at peak capacity.

The law of cause and effect applies. When you're tired, everything seems harder. Get some sleep and it looks different.

Impermanence. Karma. And for goodness sake, some sleep.

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