So, I’ve been working on solidifying my meditation practice since about March when things got real here with COVID. Having never had a regular meditation practice before this, it was a challenge to consistently empty my mind and pay special attention to what was going on in my head. With all the stress around me, I was finding it challenging to just be a passive observer for my thoughts as they passed by. I heard a meditation expert say in a podcast that trying to get the mind to stop thinking is like trying to get the heart to stop beating, it just is not as simple as it sounds. I use the app Insight Timer to help and guide my meditations, and Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings to help me re-center when my thoughts are swirling around unchecked.
Friday was like this, it wasn’t an unusually stressful or busy day, but I had thoughts that I couldn’t push aside, and felt like a dog with a bone for a good part of the day. When I am distracted like that, I know I’m not my best self, that I’m not in the moment, and that I’m unfocused and prone to saying something that I’m likely to regret later. I made it through the day , hopefully without being unkind or too distracted, but it was uncomfortable and I was very happy when I got home, where I could settle in to some free time and just relax.
I realized yesterday morning when I woke up at my time, not to an alarm, that it was the first free day I’ve had in two solid weeks.
My work is split, typically I work M-F, but I choose to work select weekends, and last weekend was my weekend at work. Not only that, but I had a work meeting on a Sunday night the weekend before that, and work at home for part of my job, so it felt like I had been ‘on’ for 14 days straight. Probably this was why I felt so busy in my head on Friday because it had been 2 weeks since my last day off. The mind, as well as the body, needs time to rest and recharge. I know this from personal experience, yet still sometimes I overschedule, overwork, and end up ragged at the edges. Self-care for me, for us all, is a work in progress, for sure.
One thing that I felt helped me take some time out from my busy days was my meditation practice. I have been consistently meditating each morning and have just added a nighttime routine. It is soothing to fall asleep with intention, not just flop into bed exhausted and wake up to the alarm what seems like a few minutes later. Maybe I am imagining it, but my sleep seems more restful and I wake up more refreshed after a nighttime meditation before sleep. Even doing too much, meditation helps me to recharge and feel rested. This poster from my office (that I no longer work in) sums up a beautiful thought about happiness, which I feel more of when I have time to rest and recharge.