Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Opening Up Overwhelm

Space Scrutiny, Chicago February 2013

This morning, I woke after a long sleep. I felt clear, rested, happy. My wife was off to her first day of training for a new job, and I had the whole day ahead of me.  
Yes, I thought. I have lots to do and time alone to do it in. Awesome. I've been waiting for this.

Then I got up, took a shower. During the shower I started to consider what comes first: yoga, certainly. But one hour? I don't have time for that. Maybe 20 minutes. I am hungry, so I should eat first. You know, speaking of body care I said to Dylan just yesterday that I wanted to get to the gym but we were both really wiped out and it didn't happen. I could go there today, too. Wait. When can I fit that in? I've got to clean for class tonight, and I have all that editing to do. Not to mention preparation for Toronto. I leave on Thursday. Ack.

Does this line of thinking sound familiar to you? I began to panic. By the time Dylan left for work, and I was dry and clean, I began to get a tinnitus sound in my left ear where I can hear my heart pumping overtime. I got into a frenzy of over-decision-making, knowing I can't do it all. 
Knowing I will likely choose work over taking care of myself. 
And yet, and yet, panicking wasn't helping me pick good self-care either. 

Ooo. Boy. I sat down and committed to meditating first. Yes. 
This is on my wipe-off board in our bedroom, a place where we write reminders and ways to cut through panicking beliefs that feed themselves. 
"Sit first, especially when in doubt."
And immediately what arose was this:
I am panicking because part of me believes that if I don't panic I won't get anything done.
This got further reiterated by martyring myself on "all the things that Dylan didn't do when I was out of town this weekend" - eg - see what happens when someone does not panic and prioritize?
Ha. Joke is on me:
What I can't seem to do when I panic, the one thing I become incapable of doing, is prioritizing.

Especially, I drop my self care all together, in favor of the belief that if I "just get done what needs doing, I'll be fine/worthy/good enough/won't need self care/will have time for self care/fill in the blank."

The meditation, brief though it was, undid the panic loop. 
Do I still have a lot to do and not enough time to do it in?
Will some things have to fall by the way side, regardless of how hard I work?
So I can still prioritize much-needed self-care and get a decent amount of work done?

I'll probably come back to this post a lot today, and tomorrow, as I try and balance work and self-care over the next forty-eight hours before I board a flight for Toronto and disappear from the US for a fortnight. Even when I am there, may I look back here again and remember. Or, remember to sit. Just sit. Quietly, in the face of overwhelm and all the hidden, not-so-hidden beliefs and agendas it carries, and remind that part of myself, remind overwhelm itself: I am a human being.
I am not perfect.
Some things will not get done.
But what does need to be done is caring for me.
Otherwise any thing else I do will be tainted and speedy.
Any care I give to others or work I do will be biased
in favor of rushing and against all I am trying to do in my work
in the first place.

After I came to this, of course, I found this email in my inbox. I love it when email, something that cranks me up a lot to begin with (somuchtogetdonesolittletimetodoitiniambehindugh), drops these messages for me:

March 12, 2013
We have to make a relationship with our emotional energy. Usually, when we speak of expressing our energies, we are more concerned with the expression than with the energy itself, which seems to be rushing too fast. We are afraid the energy will overwhelm us, so we try to get rid of it through action. However, once you develop a harmonious relationship with your energy, then you can actually express it, and the style of expression becomes very sane, right to the point. 
-From The Sanity We Are Born With by Chogyam Trungpa
-Posted on the Ocean of Dharma, maintained by Carolyn Gimian