I’m partway through a 88 hour work week (not over yet unfortunately!) trying to figure out how to preserve my physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. I think when you work this much you start to forget what “real life” feels like, what you enjoy, how to spend time outside work. Life just starts to blur together into an unending cycle of sleep/eat/work.
The fact is, I don’t have control over my schedule, and therefore my body is required to be at certain places during certain times. My mind, however, does not have to be there, and this has been the key to my “survival.” I have been spending as much time as possible doing simran while I’m at work. Some people are able to have the simran going in their minds 24/7, but I’m at that phase I have to actively remember to do it. When driving to work, in between cases, walking from one building to the next, standing in the OR during surgery, I am doing simran. When my body hurts and I’m exhausted, I remember God and it holds me together.
I think different people get through their struggles different ways and, a lot of people’s approaches seem to be focused on short term and not long term consequences. Even how I handled 100 hr work weeks last year (there were some of those!) was different than I would now- my goal being my wellbeing instead of my schooling. I'm not willing to sacrifice anything and everything for it. One of the big aspects of this has been sitting in sangat at the Gurdwara and reminding myself again what it feels like to be whole. I was sitting at the Gurdwara a couple of days ago, remembering that even though my mind lives in this prison of emotional turmoil, it doesn’t have to. In reality, we are living in Sach Khand and God is everywhere. If only my mind can be awakened, I can see it and this pain would stop- it is painful walking away from work some days wondering how I will make it through another day, or week, etc. It's painful to feel trapped and suffocated by situations that are out of your control. Yet other days I am able to walk away truly appreciating the opportunity to do such great sewa. These ups and downs are difficult and I'd much rather have my mind be at peace. I am continually reminding myself that to practice my simran while I am at work is key in life- not somewhere in isolation on a mountain somewhere, but right here where life unfolds.
It reminds me of this shabad:
This human body has been given to you.
This is your chance to meet the Lord of the Universe.
Nothing else will work.
Join the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy; vibrate and meditate on the Jewel of the Naam. ||1||
Make every effort to cross over this terrifying world-ocean.
You are squandering this life uselessly in the love of Maya. ||1||Pause||
I have not practiced meditation, self-discipline, self-restraint or righteous living.
I have not served the Holy; I have not acknowledged the Lord, my King.
Says Nanak, my actions are contemptible!
O Lord, I seek Your Sanctuary; please, preserve my honor!
(p. 12 SGG Ji)