Pema Chodron in her book “When things fall apart” says the following:
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-mans’ land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that’s life. Death is wanting to hold onto what you have and to have every experience confirm you and congratulate you and make you feel completely together. So even though we say the yama mara is the fear of death, it’s actually the fear of life. …. When we wake up, we can live fully without seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, without re-creating ourselves when we fall apart. We can let ourselves feel our emotions as hot or cold, vibrating or smooth, instead of using our emotions to keep ourselves ignorant and dumb. We can give up on being perfect and experience each moment to its fullest.” (Chodron, P. 1997, p71-72.)
I have really been thinking about this sentiment about being willing to die over and over again. She’s so hardcore! With each out breath, we are essentially accepting a kind of death and then with each in breath we make the agreement to live and die again. So Ms. Chodron, if I am to accept the day’s moments without seeking pleasure or avoiding pain, I will tell you that I was one sleepy person today. I fully embraced sleep deprivation this thursday!
Wow, what an experience!
I got up at 6 am after only 5 hours of sleep. I needed to get up at 7 and because I would have only had an hour left, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to meditate since if I was a nun, that’s what I would do at 4 am anyway. 🙂 That early in the morning, my mind was whirling and swirling. I felt awake and alert… My mind was very active and there actually seemed no point to meditating. It was as if the floodgates were opened and every thought and feeling came flooding out. I was so awake and ready to tackle the day… until it was time to get out of bed.
It was a slow morning of getting ready and out the door. The kids and I were frustrated with each other here and there. Well, let me rephrase: I was feeling frustrated with them being so slow to get out the door. They appeared to have cared less if we stayed or if we left… The drive in to Shelburne was slow. and. painful. I was behind EVERY slow moving mammal. For me, it’s as if there is a wall in front of me obstructing my view and my path – this is how I see slow moving cars in front of me. This bugs me and today was no exception, however, in my sleepy state, I was very slow in responding in frustration or annoyance… it was only because my response time was delayed, believe me, I was agitated… I was agitated because I was wishing I felt more awake and alert in my mind and body. I was wishing for smoother sailing and a faster more pleasant ride. WANT, WANT, WANT (for more than what was at the time.)
I dropped the kiddos off and parked my car. By 10:30, I dozed off. It felt like a blink and then when I woke up, it was 12:30 pm. I would have kept sleeping but I had to pee. I went to the bathroom at the episcopal church and then noticed the doors to the sanctuary were open. I walked in and immediately smelled the incense. It reminded me of my buddhist friend, Ani‘s house. This is the same incense that she burned in her house when she lived in Pittsburgh. I had never been in this church sanctuary before. I walked around and took in all the sites. It’s an old church and it’s very beautiful. There’s a mosaic on the floor where the minister and choir hangs out to do their thing. There is beautiful art on the walls and calligraphy on the archway that separates the minister/choir and where the pews are. (If you know me, then you know that at this point, I was picturing living in this room by now.) 🙂
I sat in one of the pews and listened to the delicious silence in the room. I wished that I lived here so that I could start a meditation group in that setting. It was so nice. I had the thought that probably not many people get to sit in that amazing silence because when it is open, it means music and speaking and a message being spoken/delivered. I had thought it would be incredibly yummy to sit in this FULL stillness and gorgeous silence of this room. Geezum, I really love that sensation.
I decided to seize the moment and try again at a proper meditation sitting. I sat for about a half hour and savored this beautiful space and this beautiful silence. It was interesting to note that when I was walking around, I had a feeling of something in my heart center. It was almost bitter sweet and when I relaxed in meditation, that sensation went away. It came back when I was done with the meditation and walked around a bit again. I went back to the car and had a moment of tears that washed over me. It was literally just a few seconds. I have no idea what came over me. My guess is that so many memories came in. My dad used to play at an episcopal church and I always liked that denomination. I liked it because it was Catholic-light. It has similar symbolism and rituals but less guilt. HA! I recall thinking of the sweet smell of Ani’s house (when she was still Andrea) and the peacefulness that I would feel when I’d visit her. I recall having such a sense of connection with mysticism in Christianity and the experience of the sanctuary felt very beautiful and sacred.
I left, went back to the car and attempted to write some papers. It was difficult to focus. It was as if my brain was not processing or working well. I happily chatted with some friends on the phone. That I was managing well! When it was time to go home, I stopped to run a couple errands and by 4:30, 5:00, my brain felt fried. I was just on auto-pilot. It sort of hurt to try to think or reason or do anything much. I picked up an item in a market and my eyes could barely focus to read the small print! That was almost alarming to me and I was feeling a small sense of suffering but I remembered Pema Chodron’s instructions to not avoid the pain. So I told myself that I accept this sleepiness 100%. It wasn’t easy but I managed to make the long journey home and function as best I could. I’m about to go to sleep now. My wanting mind can’t WAIT to get in my comfy bed and hunker down for the night.
There is something to this acceptance of what is stuff. It’s good stuff. It’s not easy but honestly, it’s easier than constantly wishing that I had more sleep or worrying that there’s something to worry about with regards to my health or driving or well-being, etc. It’s also better than wishing I was already home. I found myself at some point saying, “If I only got even 1 more hour sleep, I’d be able to run more errands and write more and feel way better in my body.” Well, for this day, I just was supposed to do the best I could do. Things felt better in my body when I accepted that…