When You’re Too Tired to Drive But You’re Hanging Onto the Steering Wheel

Yawning Lion
Yawning Lion
Photo by Wade Lambert on Unsplash

By 5pm, running on two hours of sleep, I was finding it hard to function. Now, in the middle of dinner prep for 15 people, I’d just been called away to the parking lot to meet the tow truck driver from the CAA.

When I had no energy to spare, it was so clear how draining any thoughts of worry or doubt were. So, as I watched the truck towing away my car, I tried not to think about how I’d be getting home or about how much the brake repairs would cost.

There was also a lingering doubt that had nagged at me through the day – shouldn’t I be capable of finding a brake fluid leak and fixing it myself, instead of just calling a tow truck and paying a mechanic? Sure, I’d tried, but didn’t I give up too soon..?

I guess these kinds of thoughts and feelings are rarely useful. Being so tired, I could clearly see how wasteful it was to give them any energy. The decision was made, my car was towed, so I would have to figure out the rest later.

The Insights

I tend focus on the negative very easily. What’s wrong… How things should be different…Did I make a mistake… Yet, through meditation and training from my teachers, I’m learning to notice and quiet the inner tyrant that relentlessly doubts my every decision, thought, and even feeling.

Even though they’re less dominant now, that day reminded me how exhausting it is to be me and keep having doubts, worries, and negatives feelings come up.

Then, standing there in Clear Sky’s parking lot a moment longer, I noticed two things one after the other. Firstly, how desperate I was to maintain a thread of control through the tiredness. I was clinging for dear life to a sense of control of what was happening to my car, to keep a sense that I was in control of making dinner. And that this “control” was a purely internal experience, with no real influence on what would or would not happen if I didn’t maintain it.

Secondly, in the next moment, I saw that I was simply glad to be standing right where I was, outdoors on one of the first warm days of Spring. That’s what was happening in that moment – nothing about my car or dinner, just that. I breathed. I smiled. I experienced my senses. Letting go into the tiredness, it was suddenly OK to give up control. After all, what difference does feeling in control have on the outcome?

Having let go of trying to manage what was going on, I still needed to go finish dinner, of course. Sure, I could worry about potentially being late with dinner, or even put my attention back on thoughts of money or the inconvenience of losing my vehicle. That is my karmic pattern, after all. Or, I could continue to notice that sense of peace. That’s what my teachers and the meditative work have been teaching me for years. Not to lose perspective, or get lost in the story. Instead, to see the clear sky that’s always there, behind the clouds of thoughts and feelings. Because that space is always clear and blissful – why would we ever choose to leave it?

Rock Sculpture

It’s easier with others

This was several weeks ago, the day of Clear Sky’s 13th Annual General Meeting, and as I write this now I see that it was a great reminder to appreciate. Quite simply, my level of suffering has fallen and my positive mind states have increased, thanks to years of teachings, community living, meditation, and karma yoga practice. On the day we celebrated our efforts and progress of 2017, I was able to reflect on some other things that I’d like to celebrate:

– The old me is often undermined by the tyrant in my head who tells me I never get anything right. So I celebrate that the tyrant is being listened to less and less. This new ‘me’ is much more fun to be, and more fun to be around.

– The old me would have been in mild panic around getting dinner “right”. I hate being late, and want to appear competent and in control. But the new me kept it in perspective. I stayed (I think) friendly and unperturbed, as I directed two people, half asleep, in an area I lack confidence.

– I recognized that trying to feel in control was in fact my only “problem,” and the biggest drain on my energy.

Appreciation exercise

I invite you to take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate growth you’ve experienced thanks to others. This can be surprisingly hard, don’t you find? Just like it can be hard to see the positive in ourselves, it can be easier to fault others than reflect on what they’ve given us.

I’d also like to celebrate too the growth I’ve seen in others around me over the years, thanks to our founding teachers, our dedicated community, and Clear Sky itself, which is truly a beautiful container for growth:

– I’ve watched with delight an example of an awakening relationship in our two founding teachers.
– I’ve seen transformation in many people who’ve stayed here on the karma yoga program or lived here for extended periods.
– I’ve witnessed the before and after faces of those coming to do retreats, who leave shiny, blissful, and grounded.

Click here and here to see some pictures from our Annual General Meeting on Facebook.

If you want to experience a sense of growth that truly surprises you and takes you beyond your boundaries, Clear Sky is definitely the place to do this. Why not try our founding teachers’ signature Karma Yoga retreat, Buddhas in Action, this summer?