Sunday, October 4, 2009

To wired to meditate

One of the difficulties of establishing a meditation practice when you have a chronic illness is that, for me at least, every day is a bit different.  Some days I wake up and have the energy to do a mindfullness meditation practice, (where I concentrate on my breath), and other days I'm too tired. 

Then there are days, like today, when I'm too wired! My heart is racing, my adrenals are pumping and I feel as though someones hooked me up to an espresso IV.

So, how do I meditate today?

What I've been struggling with lately, and noticing more and more, is how much I blame myself when I'm in my current wired up state. "You overdid it yesterday, that's why you're like this now! If you could only learn to relax more, to rest more, not to push yourself...then this wouldn't happen. When will you ever, ever, ever learn?!"

Basically, I nag myself, thinking that it will somehow change my behaviour. Last week I finally asked myself, "So, how's that going? Is it helping?" and I realised, of course, nagging and blaming was not helping. (DUH!) It was just making me feel worse about myself - as though I was someone with no will power and no self-control.

So, what's an alternative?

I'm still trying to come up with that. For now, and for the rest of this afternoon, what I'm trialing is compassion for myself. Whenever that nagging, critical voice comes into my head this will be my little mantra: "'s tough having CFS and these racing adrenals. Anyone would struggle with this." Then I'll just spend a few minutes, or even a few seconds, focusing on a different part of my body and relaxing and loosening into that area.

I'll allow those critical voices in my head to be there, because I know that fighting them and blaming them just adds another layer of blame onto the judgement that's already there.

In Buddhism, that's what's known as 'adding the second arrow' This is when we've already got a first arrow in us, which is causing pain (in my case - blame) and then we go and add a second arrow (more blame!) This is one of my favorite Buddhist teachings. When I'm meditating it's helpful to just watch those arrows pile up - and realise that I now have the awareness to stop at the fifth, or fifteenth arrow, whereas before I would have gone onto arrows unlimited!

So, I won't be doing a formal meditation practice today, but more of an unstructured compassion and relaxation practice. I think, when we're sick, it's good to have some different types of meditation practices that we can pull out to suit different kinds of days. I'll let you know how this one goes for me.

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