State of the Union With My Body

This morning I overslept. Again. It’s impressive how often this happens given the 3 alarm clocks strategically placed around my apartment. It goes like this: Stay up too late. Set alarm for regular time. Turn first alarm off and go back to sleep. Sleep through second alarm. Curse third alarm and finally pull myself out of bed.

As this familiar scene replayed this morning I realized I didn’t have time for both an asana and meditation practice as I’d planned. Thanks to the Challenge the choice was clear, so I did a quick headstand, set my alarm and headed for my cushion.

I started the body scan, starting from the toes as I’ve gotten accustomed to doing for some reason. Working my way up through the body I realized how the practice has evolved. Not long ago my entire torso was a hazard zone. I couldn’t focus on my belly for a minute without my mind bolting, and my chest was often pretty much numb. This morning I was able to feel around, my mind calm, noticing the sensations. I kept going, up through the arms and shoulders, then up the neck and head. Then I started working my way back down, more and more attentive to the tingling and rumbling springing up from different layers of my body. My mind was at ease but aware. On some level I was congratulating myself for a solid session.

‘Damn,’ I started thinking. ‘Of course the day I’m on a tight schedule is the day I really get into the practice. Maybe I should turn the alarm off and really go for it. But I’d have to get up to turn the alarm off, and that would ruin it anyway. It’s a Catch 22. Maybe once the alarm goes off I’ll be in such a state of heightened awareness that the sound won’t affect me…’

‘But wait,’ I realized, ‘you’re kinda already thinking, so…’

I came back into the body, scanning back up and rewarded myself by settling on the third eye, my familiar old practice. Pretty soon the alarm went off. I tried to work with it for a minute or so, then got up, turned it off, and turned on my computer.

My first stop: the New York Times. The headline quoted the State of the Union Speech from last night: “The greatest nation on earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.”

It struck me that’s a good description of what we do with our bodies all the time. We manufacture crisis by burdening our bodies with all our stored up shit, and by not allowing ourselves to feel the burden. As the shit builds up we drift from one manufactured crisis to the next.

I thought about my oversleeping pattern. Manufactured! I overprogram my life, don’t allow myself to get enough sleep, and then beat myself up when my body says Fuck You to my 3 alarm clocks and takes what it needs.

I’m going to sleep right now!!!

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