But it's nothing personal.
Fatigue is challenging today. I think I may be recovering from COVID. A neighbour last week told me they had it. And I was sick on Thursday last week and through the weekend. the symptoms were mild this time, just a general malaise, but the fatigue really knocked the wind out of my sails.
I am behind with my studying again. It is hard going. I read a paragraph, reflect on it and realise I have not absorbed the information at all. So I read it again, and still can't get my head round it. I see the words on the screen, but can't seem to extract their meaning. It is frustrating.
It is tiring reading from a screen. I could print out the course materials, but printer ink isn't cheap and the cartridges don't seem to last long, and there's a lot of course materials to print out. Just too expensive to do that.
I get on much better with the practical activities. I like those best. It's the reading from a screen and note-taking that's really tiring. It is hard to motivate myself to do it at times.
I don't enjoy studying anymore, it feels like I am doing a degree in suffering.
Cyber security is not an easy subject to learn, it is complicated, and not the most intuitive thing in the world. There's no wonder there's a skill shortage. Still, if I can finish this degree which is getting harder, (like wading through sludge). I should be able to secure a livelihood in the future I think.
I have decided to remain in the household life a bit longer. People need me around still, and going off into homelessness would not be responsible or kind to those around me at this time.
I will try to limit the hours I work though. I honestly cannot work long hours, I get so fatigued sometimes. Nor do I want all my life energy to be spent working at a livelihood. I want to practise meditation too, and it is hard to practise if one is tired after working, with a stressed mind full of worldly stuff and the delusion of self.
When I am sick or dieing it isn't cyber security or my knowledge of A.I. and machine learning I will be reaching out for. My career path will feel meaningless then. It will be my knowledge and experience of dhamma, my spiritual development, my friendships, my skill in meditation that will matter then.
Livelihood is just something to pay the bills, feed and clothe the body. But I don't want it to become my life.
Need to find a middle way.
Working with the hindrance of stagnation today. Its other name is 'sloth and torpor' or dullness and drowsiness.
I seem to be getting very little sleep at the moment. And it is hard getting through a day when I feel so tired, my skin feels weird and everything has this surreal achey haze to it, every conversation, every step, every thought and deed. I tried to get some sleep during the day, but just couldn't.
Still, there was a point where I suddenly became enthused to do some studying and managed to get a fair bit done, almost caught up, and hopefully will be back in sync with the timetable after tomorrow.
With fatigue perception matters. If I keep reminding myself of how tired I feel and how unbearable it all is, it definitely makes it worse. Perception seems to be the bridge between physical pain and mental pain.
Thinking can be so tiring. If I can, it is nice to flow with life without the constant internal dialogue about it all.
My main practise edge at the moment is learning ways to stop thinking. How to switch off the thought processes when I want to and have a rest from them. There are times when thinking isn't helpful at all and it just makes things worse. If I can get into a flow where thinking stops, and there's no story, just awareness centred with the body, watching the sensations and feelings as they arise and cease in the moment without getting involved with them, it can bring a bit of peace and space from it all which can ease the suffering a bit.
The hard part is forgetting and getting caught up in the internal dialogue again, then one remembers the original intention not to get caught up in the story, and it can feel quite tiring making this constant effort of bringing awareness back to the body. But this is how new habits are made, how new sankharas are formed. Eventually in time the new sankhara will develop a momentum of its own and become effortless, and grow stronger deeper; maybe then I will find a refuge from thinking when I need it (-:
It was a struggle to get up today. I felt fatigued and the body ached. I lay there under the sheets not wanting to face the world. The brain fog and dullness of senses felt like torture. I got up though and staggered to the bathroom. Resenting every step. This is suffering. I am suffering. Having a body is suffering. Suffering feels like this.
The inner critic appeared, like a terrible boss, not showing me any kindness, not letting me rest, not letting me enjoy a moment of peace. The inner critic always seems to be stronger when I am tired. Why is that?
Painful feelings. The mind does not like unpleasant sensations and tries to push them away, wants things to be otherwise... this is aversion.
And there is longing, a craving for pleasant feelings. I feel myself craving for intoxicants, for something that can get me out of this mood.
And there is a part of me that is making a story out of these unpleasant feelings, identifying with it all, adding more to it than is actually there, creating extra suffering for itself, taking it all personally. Yesterday I felt great, and today I feel like shit. Things keep switching from pleasure to pain, and it is quite tiring.
All this inner dialogue is just adding more suffering like an archer who gets shot by an arrow, then immediately shoots himself with a second one, adding more pain.
How can I dissolve this? I move my attention away from the fault-finding mind and away from the longing and from the identifying (the story of self).
I try to meditate on the breath and completely fail. Okay something else is needed. Perhaps a gradual gathering of the mind onto the breath. I notice my attention is contracted and I am absorbed in the unpleasant feelings. So expand awareness away from the body, let it be open and expansive, focus on the sense of space. Let the longing, aversion, and selfing be there, but not judge, follow or identify with it. Let it be, give it space, but stay centred on something else.
The sense of space feels gentle and easy to pay attention to, away from the pain in the body. I notice the sounds happening all about me, and notice there is ringing in my ears, but instead of judging it, I just observe the white noise with curiosity. Notice how it keeps changing. How sound is change. How sound needs time. We can preserve an image in a moment, but not sound. Without time, sound doesn't work. What is sound? Sound is change. It is waves of vibrating air molecules hitting the eardrum which then creates a sense impression in the mind.
Air is also change.
I notice the air element, feel its coolness around my head, on my face and neck. It feels soothing. The aches and pains, the unpleasant fatigue is still present, but I am no longer angry with it, or trying to change it, just flowing with it, watching the sensations as they arise and cease in the present moment.
Then the breath appears like an old friend and I feel myself breathe a sigh of relief.
Feeling unwell again today, and that's alright, sickness is part of life. It isn't sickness or fatigue that's the problem. It's my aversion to it that's the problem. Let go of the aversion and one can make peace with anything.
The five wise reflections
' I am of the nature to become sick, I have not gone beyond ill health.
I am of the nature to age, I have not gone beyond growing old.
I am of the nature to die, I have not gone beyond death.
Everything I hold dear and everyone I love will become separated from me due to the nature of change.
I am the heir of my kamma, the owner of my kamma, born of my kamma, related to my kamma. Therefore I should try to remember whatever I do good or bad, becomes the kamma I inherit.' - [attributed to the Buddha]
Woke up with a right shitty mood today. Agitated depression with a large helping of anger, oh and fatigue, yes agitated fatigue, if that contradiction makes any sense.
The first right effort of preventing negative moods from arising had clearly failed at some point in the night, and my brain had put me back together in a rather haphazard way. So I tried to practise the second right effort of abandoning this unwholesome state of mind. But the fatigue made it challenging to rouse the energy to abandon it, it was like trying to shake off something stuck with superglue.
To be honest the four right efforts felt like a joke. I felt like a failure for being unable to practise them. Started feeling doubt that the Buddha's teachings really do work. I think I even nearly swore at the Buddha at one point, which was shameful of me. This made the anger and depression worse.
And I couldn't get much done, no energy or inclination to study or paint, and couldn't get no sleep, no escape, just stuck in this horrible state of mind. Loving-kindness felt impossible to generate. So I tried equanimity, but maintaining that state of mind wasn't easy, especially as I felt so foggy-headed and physically beat. I felt like giving up. But I can't really, there's nothing to go back to in the world. I have seen through it, and I have no desire to be a worldling again. Once one has seen impermanence and how everything changes and that the self is insubstantial. One just feels dispassion for it all, for material things, for the self. Nothing lasts, everything fades away, we all die, we're all fated to become separated from everything we love and those we hold dear. Our material achievements are meaningless in the end.
I am watching the mind though, and what it does, looking for a chink in its armour and a way I can abandon this negative state of mind and bring a more positive one into being. Mindfulness is considered a wholesome state of mind, but the lack of energy makes it challenging to sustain. Monks apparently are deliberately sleep deprived to learn how to manage fatigue and not suffer. In fact the more I learn about the austerity Buddhist monks practise, the less appealing that lifestyle becomes to me. I don't think I could live like that, I am not into austerity, and very much dislike sleep-deprivation.
I can't give up though. I have to keep on pushing through this desert of the mind and hope that the Buddha really did know what he was talking about and that there really is a way out of suffering. Many people throughout history have got enlightened, so it must possible. I can't go back now, I have come too far, I have to keep trudging forward. There's still some determination in me I guess, and perseverance is classed as a wholesome state of mind. I willl keep on keeping, even though training this mind feels like walking the wrong way on an escalator sometimes - I've had it with Samsara.
'Row row row your boat gently up the stream,
Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream.
Row row row your boat gently up the stream,
If you see a crocodile try to stay serene.'
This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.