9/20/15: Shh

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!

14 thoughts on “9/20/15: Shh

  1. Hmmm good to hear from you although not so great news on the insomnia/too much thinking etc..

    I can relate to the thinking too much & what’s been really working for me recently is daily meditation, even if it’s 10 mins this tends to quiet the mind and although it’s not a magical cure it’s started to help “quiet” the mind 🙂

    Maybe check this out, it’s guided meditation: http://meditatewithac.com/

    In terms of answering the question about success, while this is a uniquely personal one to me at least I focus on defining what is important to me, what control I have over this and focus on improving that slight bit each day.. Success and life for that matter is for the most part a marathon rather than a sprint :), hope that helps out

    All the best & hear from you soon!

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    1. You’re completely right about the 10 minutes of quiet time. Last night falling asleep, I decided that for five minutes, rather than thinking, I would try to feel every part of my body and the softness of my covers around me. I didn’t fall asleep during that five minutes, but it was the fastest I’ve fallen asleep in a month. Thank you!
      Success is a marathon run. I appreciate that very much. As a teenager, I feel like it always seems that I must accomplish NOW, that I have to work fast and immediately. I’m starting to realize this isn’t realistic. in fact, I was talking to a friend of mine about my writing and how I feel like I’m in a rut. She told me to slow down and take time to read, draw, and consume rather than produce. This seems to me to work with your advice- sometimes, I need to spend time absorbing the world rather than affecting it. Thank you!

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  2. Sucks about the insominia, you might be to much in the “beta”-brainwave state, which your mind is too busy, for the insomnia i suggest, doing nothing before going to bed at least half an hour, reading a book always helps.

    As to your question of succes. I think in the spiritual world are currently two camps, the “create your own reality” camp, which involves following your heart and chase your desires, building your future. And the “mindfullness” camp which is all about letting go of desires and being present, I like to call it thr buddhist camp. Succes is very personal, to me it’s reaching goals i set for myself. Like fitness challenges etc.
    If you mean succes in business, money and power, then people will mostly use camp “create your own reality. But you can find the golden path in between.

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    1. I completely, completely agree about the two camps you mentioned, and you put it so eloquently. I’ve definitely heard both sides- change reality vs. accept reality- and I think in my life I need to incorporate some of both. Yes, I need to venture into the world with a plan to change it and do my best most satisfying work. At the same time, if things do not go according to plan, I must accept it and know that I am still valuable and a Being rather than getting caught up in feelings of inadequacy and failure. Thank you!

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  3. Hey, I just started my blog and I happened to stumble upon yours and I really enjoy it. I think the solution is to just let life happen and not try too hard to justify it every step through writing. Sometimes you have to live first, and write later. I’m not much of a writer myself, but I feel the pressure to actually put something up on my blog interferes with my ability to enjoy what is around me.

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    1. I think you’re right. Sometimes I will b enjoying a moment and I will immediately think “I should write about this”. Next thing you know, the spark of the moment goes out and I’m left feeling empty of the beauty of the moment. I am working on letting the moment exist as life, not as something to use later. After all, the present moment is about being, not thinking. Thank you very much, and good luck with your new blog! I will check it out right now.

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  4. I love this post!
    I too have had a really similar journey to your own. I have struggled with overthinking and it has been a great challenge for me. But Buddhism has begun to play a beautiful role in quieting my mind. I try and meditate a little bit every day even though I am indundated in college work and preparation for graduate school. It only gets busier from where you are now but a spiritual practice brings great peace amid the storms of life.
    I’ve struggled with my own life philosophies and deeper thoughts but the truth is simple. You are, I am, we are.
    All things are changing. Recognizing this has been wonderful. Thank you for your posts. They give me hope and encouragement. It’s good knowing I’m not alone. 🙂

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    1. I love the truth you just wrote: You are, I am, we are. I like to think of all those as one in the same- that the line between “I am” and “You are” is not as definite as we imagine. Thank you!

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  5. Your mind is a wonderful gift. You have plenty to offer. Thoughts on paper, into the universe is creativity enough. As writers, we think. We analyze. We dream. We drift, and escape until we are able to contribute and give of ourselves. Don’t ever devalue yourself or minimize your offerings. I’m 41, and as a mom of a 17 and 19 year old, I look forward to see what things you allow us all to know about your generation. It gives me insight and forces me to see my kids as individuals first. Please don’t stop doing what you’re doing and being who YOU are.

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    1. Thank you so very much. These are the kinds of comments that not only keep me blogging, but give me so much faith in life and humanity and my place in the world. I’m so glad I’ve provided something of an insight into the workings of a teenage mind- believe it or not, some of us really do think like adults at times! Please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to write about pertaining to the attitude of my generation. I’d love to explore the generational differences between myself and many of my followers like you in the future. Once again, thank you so much! This comment absolutely brightened my day.

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  6. Hello, fellow over-thinker!! 🙂
    I’m certainly prone to overthinking and worrying, and this manifests itself in a recurring physiological feeling of anxiety that I can’t ignore, and it stays for a few days at a time. I usually manage it by keeping myself busy. It doesn’t mean that I don’t practice mindfulness, I do, but consciously. For example, I use the meditations in the Smiling Mind App. However, I do my best to ensure that I never have the time to sit down and fall into the pit of my negative thoughts. Also, I try not up forget physical exercise – being physically tired helps me to fall asleep, no matter how tempted I feel to think 😉
    I hope you’re doing well and that the insomnia has subsided!! xx

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