I’ve been sick this winter, actually, officially sick with a diagnosis and antibiotics and all of that. While I am healing well, I am left with lower-than-usual energy and a sense that fatigue overtakes me quickly.
One of the mindfulness practices I learned while taking Dr. Bill Cook’s Body-Mind Awareness program back in 2009 was about attending to where in the body intention arises. That sounded terribly foreign to me at first; if I intend to get up from my chair, it seems to me that the intention arises in my thoughts. But no, if I am careful, take time, and bring attention to my body with the question, I can actually sense into my body where and how that intention arises.
So with this fatigue, I have been using this practice to locate “tired” in my body. This is probably easier than the intention to change position. What I notice is this: my mind will say something like, Oh, I feel tired….then I turn my attention to my body. Where in my body do I sense this “tired?” What is it like? When have I felt something like this before? What does it remind me of…and what else might be there, along with “tired?”
That last question is a good one. What else is in there, in this felt sense that I have labelled, perhaps too quickly, as “tired?” On Saturday, I took to the dog for his weekend walk along the river. We plowed through shin-deep snow, watching the sun come up through snow clouds, and feeling the barely freezing temperature rise a bit and fall a bit, shifting the nature of the precipitation. When I turned to walk back to the car, calling for the dog, I was suddenly aware of sensation in my calves, like melting butter, achingly draining to my heels….there it was! That was my fatigue. Internally, I named it and asked, what else is there? As I breathed into my belly and let my attention rise from my legs to my abdomen and diaphragm and chest, I realized that there was more there. I felt a sensation that I labelled tears; tension that I wanted to discharge in my core, tension in my pelvis that hard sobbing would release. So there was more than tired; there was a deep tension of holding back sadness, right there.
Tired happens when you have been sick. Tired also happens when things feel like just too much, and when you need to cry and you don’t give yourself the space to really experience those feelings. Having to “hold in” and “hold on” to yourself to keep those tears in check is a really exhausting way to live.
When you feel tired, where in your body do you notice it? What else is in there?