Sleep

As happens to me sometimes, I woke up the other night and couldn’t fall asleep.

I remembered years ago, during a particularly challenging time in my life, I woke up in despair and because I couldn’t think of anything else to do, began to physically caress and hold my head.

The other night, as it sometimes does, it happened again.

It occurred to me to again caress my head. And I began to speak gently to my overworked brain. Repeating these words, gently, worked.

Stay

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It has taken me most of a lifetime to realize that I usually try to avoid feeling pain – by getting busy, by starting something new, by thinking of another time – by doing anything except feeling. At some point in my life I had decided that when I was feeling uncomfortable I could deal with it by distracting myself. It usually worked in the short run. My sort term distractions included drinking, driving too fast, sex, getting angry, being critical and more acceptable ones like running and working.

Now, sometimes when I begin to be aware of feelings of anxiety, I remember this poem and say it to myself over and over. I find that as I stay still, I become quieter, calmer and sometimes I slowly become aware that I am feeling and what I am feeling. I let it be. And it helps.

The message above has been inspired by if not taken directly from the words of Pema Chodrun.

I am interested in how others of you deal with the pain of emotion and I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences in this blog. It is not necessary to identify yourself unless you want to.

Having had cancer is no treat, but it has helped me to know myself better.