Pema Chodron wrote in “Taking the Leap” that when she was meditating, she was overwhelmed by deep anxiety with no apparent storyline attached to it. She felt vulnerable and afraid. She asked her teacher Dzigar Kongtrul about this, and he told her he had felt the same kind of deep anxiety and it had been an important part of his healing journey. He asked her what she was experiencing, where she felt it, and what the quality of the sensation was. He recognized it as “Dakini’s Bliss,” which is a high level of spiritual bliss. After hearing this, she wanted to practice again to feel the intensity. When she sat down to practice, the resistance was gone and so was the anxiety. Pema realized that she instead of being with the sensation, that she had been making the sensation bad. When her teacher said, “Dakini’s bliss,” it totally changed the way she looked at it.
Hearing this story helped me to look at one of my own stories. I am interested in why I have been feeling that it is worrisome that I am ‘so tired’ lately. For some reason I have been attaching all kinds of negative reasoning to it as; “I am getting to old to do the intense work that I do, I am no longer healthy, or I have lost my stamina.” I feel that I am at my peak in my therapy work, but I am tired, really tired at the end of the day. I used to love traveling to conferences and presenting papers and now I think about the hassle of airports, travel and more times then not, I would rather stay home. Then I start to worry, “Is it over? Have I lost my drive?” But by using Focusing and taking an interest in my fear, moving closer, leaning in, and dropping my labels around my tiredness, I notice that the resistance melts. By using Focusing I can listen to my tiredness with a gentle curiosity and lean in closer to hear from its point of view why it is ‘tired’. I realize that I have blaming my fifty five year old body and jumping into fear instead of staying Present and awake to the experience of what I have been calling exhaustion and/or over tiredness. Taking the time and giving the part of me that feels tired a fresh open space to tell me how it feels from its point of view, relaxes my body and helps release the tension or resistance. When I listen, yes it is tired, but there is more. It is satisfied, feels blessed and well used. It is a good, rich tiredness. I love my work passionately and it is hard work. I work with children and adults who have suffered abuse, have brain injuries, autism, and other obstacles. I work hard to be Present and help them create the changes and healing that they want. When I openly listen to the part of me that is tired at the end of the day it tells me that it feels blessed, joyful and very tired. It tells me that I have limited energy but it loves how I am using that energy.
I remember seeing Gloria Steinman talk years ago about a time when she was completing an important project that she had been working on for years and after it was done, she said that she felt that she could have happily died that night. I remember at that time thinking that I if I died tomorrow, I would not feel that way. Now I do. I am not ready to die, but I do feel that I am making a small difference to the people that I work with. Now when I feel tired, I listen to it fully and move through the fear and resistance so I can also feel the joy. So now when I am tired, I know in my heart that it is a good tiredness.