The choice to be in pain

It was 2.30 in the morning my girlfriend and I had booth drifted off to sleep when we hear bass tones seeping through our bedroom walls. At first I try to ignore the subs and evaporate into the slumber of sleep but the defuse thuds of the bass spike my anxiety and I feel sharp tingles in my chest and a slight debasing felling in my gut.

As I land in consciousness I now look over at my girlfriend who is fast asleep and im irritated that i have awoken to my own anxiety. As always there is a sense of feeling threatened by what this noise represents.

Who do they think they are! Don’t they know we’re sleeping! Despise clouds all my thoughts.

My unassuming house mate is playing some music after a late night shift. The music isn’t obnoxiously loud but the subs do the trick to wake me up. I struggle with my anxiety for a while “should I say something or not”. Finally the music stops and he goes to bed. Now im left not only unable to go to sleep and exhausted by the cortisol and adrenalin in my system but ashamed of myself that I didn’t get up and say something.

I try to control my breathing but my intention isn’t here, my thoughts are all over the place all I want to do is go to sleep, Or do i?

Its now 4.45  and iv kept myself awake for another 2 hours brooding over the situation. Out of exhaustion I tell myself “lets just sleep” and in a flash I reply to myself BUT I DONT WANT TO! I finally realise my anxiety didn’t happen to me, I had a choice in my anxiety it was my response to the situation. Maybe out of old habits created when I was a child. Maybe I thought that drowning myself in anxiety, I could change or effect the situation. Deep down I didn’t want to calm down because I thought my anxiety was serving me in that situation.

On some level I chose to be in pain.

Intention and meditation

Falling asleep while meditating is a big challenge and this could arise for a few reasons. Maby its because generally our society is very time poor and the only time we get to ourselves is late in the evening or very early in the morning. It could also be due to the fact that when we meditate it can be the only time of the day except for sleep that we deeply relax without any stimulation.

I dont know….But when my clients ask me how to stop themselves from falling asleep while meditating my emediate answer is ‘how much intention do you have to stay awake’?

I feel this answer touches on a deeper issue that plays out in the falling asleep scenario. Meditation is a very externally passive habit add the element of relaxation to the mix and it can even be a getaway of its own. But keeping true to our intentions and aims for our practice encourages our will power to stay strong. For example keeping our attention on the breath while in the midst of very difficult emotions or remaining present while cloaked in drowsiness as we feel ourselves nodding in and out of sleep.

In a nut shell ITS OK TO FEEL SLEEPY or for the mind to be running around in circles. But how long we persevere with our practice when our focus is depleted and our mental state is not ideal depends on our intention. I label it INTENTION here but we could also call it WILL POWER or DETERMINATION or even DRIVE.