A few days ago I had a fleeting thought: “Why is being aware so tiring?”
It stopped me short, and I realized that there was something much deeper going on than simply bemoaning awareness and my frustration with the sense that something wasn’t right. I started by scanning what was going on right that moment, and I started with my body. First of all, I was at my computer grading. Second I was hunched over my desk not breathing deeply. Third I realized that I was tired and felt disconnected from my spirit because I hadn’t written in a couple of days.
Being engaged and mindful of my surroundings and internal self is not exhausting. What is exhausting is not taking care of my whole self–ignoring the signs my body, brain, and heart give me all throughout the day.
I started reflecting on when I’ve had a similar thought, and I realized that I would bemoan this very same thing during college. I thought I was being so self-absorbed, and I may very well have been, but also I think I was not taking care of myself in the ways that I needed. Here is where compassion enters–at that intersection of berating the self and realizing a need. Father Richard Rohr says, “Most people immensely overreact against their earlier stages of development, and earlier stages of history, instead of still honoring them and making use of them.”
I am so glad this fleeting thought was something I noticed. Instead of reacting in anger or allowing it to fuel frustration, I used it as an “in”, and I’m glad I did.
I found a good stopping point, I got up from my computer, I stretched, got some water, hugged one of my boys, found my journal, and began dumping all of it on the page. I felt so much better. Later on I was able to spend time with my children and husband, cook a good meal, and generally enjoy myself because I took care of my need: the need of processing my life on the page.