I keep seeing an advert on the London Underground stating: ‘Tired of feeling tired?’ followed by a picture of some drug or vitamin they are selling. I always smile and think about creating a counter advert saying ‘Tired of feeling tired? Then go to bed!’ But why is tiredness such an issue nowadays?
Tiredness is at chronic levels in our society. People are working harder and sleeping less. You know the reason - technology is gets faster and more accessible. Rather than getting their work done quicker, people are just doing more work. And with phones, every spare few seconds is filled with doing something on their device. And it’s not always just work - it’s a state of constantly doing something because doing can become so addictive.
What’s the Link to Mindfulness?
In mindfulness, we often talk about ‘doing mind’ and ‘being mind’. If you spend too much time trying to achieve goals, thinking, planning, you are using your doing mind a lot. But each day you only have some much mental energy. If you’re doing too much, that mental energy gets depleted - especially if you’re thinking a lot. Your brain burns energy very fast.
Eventually that mental energy can run out completely. With that low level of energy, your mindfulness levels go down in equal measure. You feel very tired. How do you replace that energy? Simple. By stopping doing. If you stop judging, planning, criticising and thinking so much, and start just observing your body and mind, without trying to do anything, energy start to pour into your ‘being mind’. Your mind gets sharper and more mindful. You notice more and get irritated less. Things look more beautiful. You smile more. You feel more energised. Mindfulness is naturally going up again.
How do you replace your mental energy? If you often find yourself feeling tired, here’s a simple meditation you could try everyday called a ‘Letting Be’ meditation. This works especially well when I’m too tired to even sleep:
Ask your body what’s the right posture for you right now. Seated? Lying down? Or maybe some other posture.
Take a few deep breaths and ensure each outbreath is nice and slow. You may feel more tired but you’re actually recharging yourself.
Rest your awareness on the feeling of tiredness. Start getting to know the feeling rather than pushing away the feeling. Try accepting the feeling of tiredness rather than fighting the feeling. Find out where the tiredness is in your body and let it be.
Make friends with tiredness. Try thinking ‘welcome tiredness, how are you doing buddy? Let’s hang out….I’m so glad you’ve come along to remind me to recharge. I’m going to stop running away from you now, and be with you instead’.
Be a passive observer. When your mind wanders off with a string of thoughts, let that be too. Don’t fight your thoughts! That’ll make you more tired. Just notice as passively as you can. Be a passive observer of your experience. If the feelings in your body, or your breathing or sounds come to mind, observe that, with the minimal amount of effort.
Whatever happens is fine. Have the attitude of ‘whatever happens in your meditation is fine’. If you think a lot, fine. If you fall asleep, fine. If you feel more tired at the end, fine. In this way, you’re being non-judgmental and accepting. Try the ‘it’s fine’ attitude no matter what happens.
Try using a mantra. You could repeat the word ‘peace’ or ‘calm’ or ‘relax’ or a neutral word like ‘one’ in your mind, each time you breathe out. Doing this for a few minutes can help you find some rest from your busy mind.
End the meditation whenever you wish. You can practice this exercises for a few minutes up to however much time you have.
Thanks for reading! Did you find this helpful? What do you do to deal with tiredness? Let me know in the comments below - sharing your thoughts can help deepen your reflection and firm up your commitments.