Day 40 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge
I’m sure you’ve noticed an increased tendency to be irritable and cranky when you’re tired. This is a valuable area for practice, and I have a tip for you.
I think one thing we should take on board is how physiological our feelings and our ability to regulate our emotions are. When we’re tired, our brain’s biochemistry is running out of “the good stuff” and we tend to feel a bit down and a bit more vulnerable and sensitive. Our feelings are on more of a hair trigger. And it’s harder to be mindful of our emotions and to keep ourselves in a positive state.
When we don’t take all that into account we almost automatically add a layer of blame to our experience: “I’m down. I’ve failed. This sucks.”
When we do take this into account it’s more like: “I’m down. Oh, I’m tired. That’s why!” And at that point, even though our experience might still be unpleasant, we’re less likely to get into a dark mood. The self-blame, which often we don’t even realize is there, just doesn’t happen as much.
Have some compassion for yourself when this happens. Your brain and body have needs, and that’s normal. You’re running low on fuel. The old brain’s knackered and in need of a good rest. So meet your experience with lovingkindness, but not with the intent that you’re going to “banish some negativity.” It’s more like you’re just going to be kind to yourself at a time when you’re low on resources. Be sympathetic and compassionate to yourself. Now, maybe this will sometimes perk you up, because you’ve removed the self-blame and perhaps feel a bit lighter and more energetic. Or maybe you express your regrets and get yourself off to bed, or get some quiet time, or have a snack — whatever you physiologically need and are able to give yourself in whatever circumstances you’re in.
Accepting our physiological limitations is an application of the principle that thoughts are not facts. “I’m down. I’ve failed. This sucks” is a series of thoughts, but those statements are not facts. They’re just judgments. Drop the judgments, and have some compassion for yourself, and you’ll feel much more at ease with yourself.