Self-Induced Suffering

A night without my usual amount of sleep left me drowsy and dozing during my sit this morning. I almost fell asleep once, and much of the rest of the session was spent in a half-awake state where the mind seemed very cloudy. I found it quite difficult to get concentrated at all, and stories and images were popping into the mind continuously. Still, it felt good to sit and be physically still for a brief period of time.

One thing I noticed during my sit was a tendency for my face to be tense when I was deep in thought. My muscles tense up, my lips purse, and my expression turns almost into a scowl. I try my best to take note of my facial expression, in addition to other parts of my body, as a signal of how calm and relaxed I am.

The thought present in the mind when the bell went off was “I have to get my portfolio prepared for my meeting on Thursday.” Let me just note here for emphasis that Thursday is a full three days away.

The rest of my day did not go very smoothly either. I had a busy day with lots to do scheduled into it, so I felt like I was just running from one event to another. When I wasn’t going from one place to another, I was trying my hardest to keep myself busy. I felt like I had too many things on my “to-do” list to be able to take even a single moments pause or breath.

Unfortunately, days like this take their toll on me by the end of the day, and I do this all too often. By the end of the day, I feel worn out and exhausted. And its not even physical exhaustion, its mental and emotional exhaustion from the feeling of being stressed and having to keep too many things on my mind.

The sad part of it all is that no one is forcing me to keep this busy, I do it to myself. I have long-practiced expectations of what I should be doing with my time, and how hard I should be working. This has its advantage of being able to get work done when I need to, but the disadvantage is it sometimes—no, make that often—gets out of control and leaves me worn out and miserable.

I have been watching Andrea do this time and time again in the past few months, and I don’t think an overnight solution will be coming anytime soon. These patterns are a result of deep, long-standing conditioning, and it will likely take a great deal more diligence and self-compassion to transform it. But it's so worth it.

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