A row of tall prayer flags is silhouetted against a blue sky and a magnficient spread of large white clouds. Taken in Sikkim, India.

Always tired? Mindfulness might help

It’s so unbelievably good to disconnect completely from the ceaseless cycle of deadlines that is university academics.
When I talked to people who weren’t able to get regular physical exercise, one of the issues that came up most often was being tired. Tiredness is such a reliable facet of modern life. We sit in the subway, then sit in class, and then commute home (preferably) sitting. We’re not brains in jars, but it’s difficult to tell from the way we live. I know I’m always super tired after I commute home. (Ugh.) But exhaustion isn’t really a fun time, even if it’s become weirdly normal. (You can even buy shirts and sweaters that says, “Always Tired”, by the way, should you want to gift yourself some this holiday season. Just think: now you too can gloomily stare into the distance while leaning against walls in a picturesque fashion, like some sort of modern-day version of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.)
A man holds his phone up to take a selfie. He's wearing a white shirt that says "Always Tired" on it, and he is dressed in the garb of today's youth: white sneakers and jeans folded up above white socks.
There is no doubt in my mind that Heathcliff would have taken mirror selfies.
Image credit: aesthentials.com
The unfortunate thing about being tired (well, one of many) is that I usually have a ton of work to do when I get home, and I’m pretty much incapable of doing any of it. I could go to bed early, but if I do, I can’t fall asleep despite being exhausted, because my brain won’t turn off. This is a pretty suck-y stalemate to be stuck at. (Although alliterative.) U of T does a pretty great job of advertising the (free) resources available to its students, so I knew about the Mindful Moments thing. But who has the time to sit and breathe for an hour? Certainly not I. There’s a weekly Mindful Moments session that takes place right across the street from one of my classes, but attending would leave me smack-dab in the middle of rush hour. I went anyway. I’m glad I did. Attending that session has become a valuable part of my weekly routine. University academics is a ceaseless cycle of deadlines, and it’s easy to become completely consumed by them. It’s so unbelievably good to completely disconnect from that for an hour each week. Mindfulness is a solid mental anchor, and it keeps one grounded in the choppy seas of exams/life.
A row of tall prayer flags is silhouetted against a blue sky and a magnficient spread of large white clouds. Taken in Sikkim, India.
What meditation feels like.
Meditation isn't always a great experience the first time you try it. If you’re experiencing anxiety, for example, sitting still with your thoughts might make things worse. (Instead, take a deep slow breath. Hold it for two seconds. Now exhale. Repeat ten times. This remarkable technique is brought to you by my dentist in Mumbai. I think she would’ve been equally successful as a spiritual guru.) I think it helps to know what you want out of meditation. I wanted stillness- I could picture what that looked like: being present in the moment, just breathing- and so I was able to willfully create that experience. But the best part, for me, is being able to call on that feeling again and again during the week, to restore my equilibrium.

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