Does anyone else have insomnia? Mine has gotten infinitely worse lately. It takes me about 1.5-2 hours to fall asleep, and it’s certainly leaving me headachy and tired during the school day.
It’s not a medical thing for me. I have a very conscious reason for it: I think. I think and think and think, and the minutes tick by, sleepless and full of thought. It’s not only at night, either. I think when I take walks and runs, in the shower, in the car, in the moments when I’m alone and when I’m quiet.
Most of what I’ve been thinking about lately has to do with writing, my life, and my feelings. My creative river has sadly dried out lately (right alongside the California droughts too!). I’m constantly searching for something to write about, but the more I search for a plot, the less I believe in my creative capacity. I begin to think that nothing I can offer through fiction will be valuable. That I’m not deep enough to make it, or that my depth is something I’ll never be able to convey. I know it’s ridiculous because the majority of the books I love are not the deepest books I’ve read, but the ones that make me feel something.
I haven’t been feeling a whole lot, in a strange way. I’ve been feeling upset in response to shutting down my feelings. I think constantly about how to perfect myself and how to be better and smarter and more efficient and at the same time think about what I’m putting myself through. It gets tiresome, and it’s all something I’m bringing upon myself.
Today, my mom said: “You just need to stop thinking so much.”
I’m realizing more and more that the problems I encounter in life are manufactured in my mind. There is no basis in reality for so many of my worries. For example, I constantly stress myself out worrying that people will hate me if I tell them what colleges I’m applying to. Is that fear rational? No. Probably not. But it’s a problem with the world in my mind, not a problem with myself.
This morning, I took a walk and tried to force myself not to think. For a moment, I stopped, spread my arms out in the sunlight, and closed my eyes. I stopped thinking. I smiled. The world was so beautiful then, without my mind tainting it. The first thing I thought was how I could write about it and use it as a philosophical lesson, and the whole thing shattered. It was beautiful because it just existed then, in the moment, without words or thoughts thrust upon it.
This is, of course, the crux of Buddhist meditation, and I’m trying to incorporate it into my everyday life. It’s not natural for me to stop thinking, since thought and intelligence has always been so central in my life. It’s interesting: some of the smartest among us are the least spiritually developed for just that reason, that they can’t escape the confines of their heads and take the blinders off. It worries me about society. But, in the Buddhist spirit, everything is just as it is and is perfect without adulteration.
I like to think that if I could have it my way, I wouldn’t care about achievement or titles or anything but existing harmoniously with the world, becoming enlightened, and spreading loving-kindness. But the truth is, I could have it my way. I could do that. But I go to school and am inundated with our society and I choose not to live the most peaceful life every day. I used to blame myself for it, but perhaps it’s not all bad. I want to give my kids a good life, and that does require me to make money and have somewhat of a traditional successful life. Is it wrong of me to want to succeed for that reason? Is it obstructing my path to peace? I don’t know.
What do you do to get out of your head? Do you find yourself imposing thought onto the world? Should success be the enemy or can it coexist with true inner peace? I don’t have the answers, but I don’t doubt that many of you have accumulated wisdom on the subject that I haven’t. If so, please share!