Today I sat for meditation. It was led by a friend. A gentle guided inward journey tracking my body-awareness. Something I’ve done many times before. Yet something startling happened today. I was aware of a loud buzzing in my head or ears or brain. A surge of electricity–I simply observed the sensations. Then I tracked my awareness to my heart rate. It too seemed louder. Perhaps beating a little faster than usual. Nothing medically wrong and yet I could hear that heart rate whispering to my breath in a steady rhythm like an old steam train on an endless track, ‘keep up, keep going, work harder, we need more oxygen, you can do it, we need this, we depend on you, don’t give up, go-go-go …’
I noticed. I moved on. Usually bringing awareness to my body without any judgement can gently nudge it in a healthier more regulated rhythm. My nervous-system gets a little heads-up that perhaps it’s running too fast. Without any desire to fix or change it, it usually steps back into line and I fill my belly with air and give a long sigh out. It’s like watching a fan that’s been turned off. It still has momentum but with patience is slowly unwinds to a stillness. I have faith in this process.
But today it didn’t wind down. I then noticed that my breath seemed shorter; a shallower rhythm. All of this had been going on as I was rushing to meditation. All of this had been on fast-forward even when I thought I’d pressed pause. As I sank more and more into my body awareness I could feel my blood-flow. It too felt rushed and somewhat striving and overeager. My throat was just a tad tight and my belly a tad firm. Nothing medically to worry about and yet like an engine running unnecessarily fast, I knew I needed to self-regulate.
I asked my body-wisdom what I could do to support a more natural state of ease and therefore presence. I’m lucky as my body-wisdom remembers poems and literature as a backup plan when I can’t steep myself in nature. ‘Ask Mr. Curly!’, my body wisdom urged. After the meditation I left quietly and sat under a tree and found my favourite passage:
A Passage from Michael Leunig’s – The Curly Pyjama Letters
So as Mr. Curly says…
“In response to your question, “What is worth doing and what is worth having?” I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it may cause, you must rest–otherwise you will become RESTLESS!
I believe that the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the prolonged ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adapting is ultimately Soul destroying, as well as earth destroying.
Tiredness is one of our strongest most noble and instinctive feelings. It is an important aspect of our conscience and must be heeded or else we will not survive. When we are tired we must HAVE that feeling and we must act upon it sensibly–we must rest like the trees and animals do.
Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame! This is a dangerous development. Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity cultivating the great mass mania which is all around making life so hard and ugly–so cruel and meaningless–so utterly graceless–and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this.
And of course, you know what happens when such strong and natural feelings are denied–they turn into the most powerful bitter poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.
So, I gently urge you… learn to curl up and rest–FEEL your noble tiredness–learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow. I repeat: it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.”
I closed my eyes. Drifted off in a flow of gratitude for all the wisdom in the world and also in my body. I awoke about fifteen minutes later. Much of the world was the same. My to-do list was the same. But I was changed. My heart rate slower, my breath fuller and my head clearer. I had a productive day and felt more content by just giving some tender loving care to my noble tiredness.
What are some of the nourishing tools or techniques that you call upon when you realise that you’ve pushed your nervous system too far? What helps you come back to your innate body wisdom and healthy rhythms? We would love to hear them.
With deep relaxation, we wish you a very productive day… even if you’re doing absolutely nothing.
Love and Blessings,