I got home from work last night numb from the neck up, figuratively speaking, although the sensation of it wasn’t far off. I was exhausted, having slept only about 22 hours in the number of days I’d typically sleep 40, and frequently interrupted, however briefly, throughout the week. By Thursday night I wasn’t really sleeping at all. I did manage a 90 minute nap, in the wee hours immediately preceding my alarm going off. Last night it was no effort to do some yoga, manage appropriate calories, have a shower and go to bed; I was on auto pilot at that point, and just following steps that had been planned and mentally rehearsed much earlier in the day. I slept deeply, and woke early – 4:00 am. I don’t know what woke me, perhaps I’d simply had sufficient rest. I tried to go back to sleep, but my brain was having none of that, and I found myself doing what I have so often found myself doing, awake in the darkness; I started thinking about what I want and don’t have, and what I loved that I now lack, the long-yearned-for unreachables, the wonders snatched from me by circumstance, the emotional hurts and betrayals large and small that are part of my (the) human experience – both those I have felt, and those I have delivered… and it’s probably no surprise that I started feeling anxious, discontent, sad, frustrated and near tears. There are still choices.

It isn’t easy. I just keep at it, though, because practicing meditation is changing my experience in a positive way over time; so I gave up on more sleep, and meditated. It helps. While I’m calm and centered and just being, there in the stillness before dawn, I become aware of how much physical pain I am in, too. I get up and do some yoga, slowly easing myself through the sequence that helps me loosen up each morning, and then on to some favorite poses that just feel good to me, and keep me present and engaged in the moment. That helps, too. Still finding myself feeling moody, and vaguely discontent and resentful, I take a couple deep calming breaths and instead of squashing down my feelings, I relaxed and let them evolve, and listened to what my heart might have to say about things. Just giving myself a moment to be okay with my experience, and my emotions helps, too, although this one is still more challenging as new practices go. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it, so I practice rather carefully, and sometimes it feels a bit formulaic, as though I take each step quite separately, reading off a check list in my head.

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Practice results in incremental changes over time, each moment building our experience.

I realize that I’m carrying around some hurt over something small. I consider the importance I have chosen to place on emotional self-sufficiency, and ask myself different questions that I might once have asked. Instead of the frustrated angry ‘why me?’ sorts of questions, I take a moment to ask myself ‘what is the underlying value involved here?’ and ‘what is the unmet need seeking fulfillment in this moment?’ and ‘how can I reinforce good practices to ensure this need is well met, without relying on any emotional resources but my own?’ It’s proving to be a useful and effective approach for me.

It takes a change of perspective.

It takes a change of perspective.

 

In this case, the underlying value seemed to be one of The Big 5, Respect. Feeling disrespected, in this particular instance over the way I use language in conversation was more ‘disrespect’ with a small ‘d’, rather than ‘Disrespect’ with a big ‘D’; it just wasn’t ‘a deal breaker’, because it was over an aesthetic matter – and those are entirely unarguably personal preferences that no one can take from us. I needed, however, to feel appreciated with regard to the way I use language.  I made an espresso, sat down at my desk and caught up on my email, checked in with early bird friends, and friends in far away time zones. I chatted with people I hadn’t taken time for in a while, and savored the varied conversational styles of each. I didn’t start writing, here, until later in my morning than is typical, and by the time I did I was in a completely different head space.  I suspect I am writing very differently than I might had I simply begun to write in the minutes sometime after I woke at 4:00 am.

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I have no relevant caption for this, I just like this picture.

I’ll be honest, I do feel better  – but there are things in my life I’m not satisfied with, and I’ve got things to work on as a human being. I struggle with some baggage, and I make mistakes that hurt people I love. Sometimes I’m unpleasant to be around when I’m in pain, or my hormones are messing with me. Sometimes I don’t treat people as well as I mean to, or as well as I want to. I’m not as strong as I may appear. I feel sad and disappointed with myself when I ‘don’t get things right’ – and some of my expectations and demands of myself are clearly not reasonable.

Sometimes finding my way is as simple as a good night’s sleep, sometimes it is much more complicated than that.  I know I am loved, and I’m learning to accept that it is most important that in that feeling of being loved, I must include my own voice, and with real enthusiasm and affection. This morning, progress is enough.