For a while, I got swept up in an old pattern. This is where I mentally go at myself with a stick: 'You have to get out there and just do it – it's nearly through!' 'You'll be letting yourself down if you don't do it', 'You're not that sick – just get on with it.' But in a moment of clarity, I ordered that inner critic to cease! I paused, and worked out what I needed to do – for my wellbeing. And that was to have another Lemsip, go back to bed and sleep. Which is what I did. And I slept deeply.
There is a Zen saying: "When you are tired, rest."
It is very simple. And all the critical voices in my head represent a conditioned response – a feeling of guilt, and of lack. I don't really know who I thought would be keeping score (!!) and who would be so cruel as to not allow rest for someone who is sick. By challenging that inner critic, I am learning self-compassion. Perhaps it is the mindfulness practice that allowed me to find that pause, that space, in which I could choose what to do, instead of being led around by a pattern of behaviour that doesn't really serve me. I was sick and so the answer was to rest.
It was also a lesson in human frailty. I am human, there are limits to what I can reasonably ask myself to do. It's good to know this. It makes me wonder what would have happened if I had become sick early on in the 40-day practice. Would it have derailed the whole thing? Would I have felt a failure and abandoned it? I like to think that I would have continued – but I guess I will never know. It is what it is.
When we practice kindness, we have to start by being kind to ourselves. I still need to learn this, but I think I'm making progress.