Guru in Burnout
This is a casual sharing of what I have experienced during the last three years. I'm sharing this information in case it help others in similar situation. I have chosen to use the word ”guru” in the title only for a catchy name. I do not wish to be called or referred to as a ”guru”.
I had a burnout for 3 years, from late 2013 until late 2016. It all started with way too much working and got really bad with the arrival of our first child who was a very poor sleeper for the first year or so. I had all the classical symptoms of a burnout: constant sleeping problems, bodily heat problems, regular headaches that I could only keep at bay by taking painkillers, exhaustion, emotional irritation and some stomach problems. No matter how much I sleep I tried to get, among the hectic daily life, I was always tired. And no matter how much I ate, I didn't feel energised. I could not exercise because the vitality of the body was very low. If I would try to do yoga or some other physical exercising, I would have to stop after some minutes because I had no energy to continue, my body would just get heated up more.
The only way I could keep up with the demanding daily regime was to do tantric practices, mantras to be specific, and meditate some but not a lot. If I didn't do daily practice, my condition would get worse. Practice would help me to remain clear minded. I had to keep on working because as an enterpreneur I am responsible for supporting my family and get no benefits of taking a sick leave. Also there was no one who could have stepped in for me, as the head teacher of Open Heart, were I to take sick leave. I had no other choice than to keep tramping on, and for the most of it, I didn't and couldn't enjoy it at all. It was a vicious cycle.
Now that this period has passed, I wonder how I managed to pull that off because the amount of work during these years is huge. Continuous courses, teaching retreats, numerous awakening guidances, passing regular initiations, blogging and answering a lot of emails. I also wonder, am surprised really, how our marriage survived. There were numerous occasions when I felt I simply had no other choice than to leave. Mere burnout with a sick leave would have been a peace of cake. Merely having a small child who wouldn't let us sleep would have been a walk in the park. Or merely needing to take care of the job would have been easy but all three together was a killer. It was extremely stressful.
When you can no longer control or do anything to regulate the constant hardships you meet, that's when it becomes hopeless and pointless. You keep taking care of your responsibilities until it get's so bad that you either run away or loose your ability to function. It is horrible when faith in the goodness of life disappears. It is horrible to live yet not feel any joy because you're out of juice, out of energy, dried up like a stick in a desert.
Having been through all this, I am not surprised at all that common people without any psycho-spiritual knowledge and skills so often end up in devorce. I am actually not surprised of even worse things happening. That is what extremely stressful circumstances do.
All through these challenging times it was my spiritual practice that kept me going. I sticked to my daily practices even when I was exhausted and fed up. I was fortunate to have years of training and stable insights before all this which helped me to stay on course. Even though my body was exhausted with all the problems, mentally I was able to keep it cool enough. I am certain that had I not meditated, were awakened and opened several bhumis prior to this trial, I would no longer be doing this job and/or be married. There is absolutely no doubt about this.
Person who has ground mahamudra understanding,
I don't think, will have nervous breakdown,
unless it is a physical disease.
If it is a disease, it can happen.
Other than that it will not happen.
- Tai Situ Rinpoche
I have never seen any proficient adept talk about burnout, or nervous breakdown. But I've noticed it being many times announced that the personal doctor of the Dalai Lama requires him to take time off of his busy schedule for the reason that it is too demanding on his body. I've also read the same about Chetsang Rinpoche who is the head of drikung kagyu-school of Tibetan buddhism.
Finally, after three years of this, all of a sudden it all changed. Readers of this should refer to Open Heart Bhumi Model to understand what I'm going to say next.
My health got almost back to normal in few days after the 1st of Nowember 2016, when hitting the 11th bhumi, which is the first mahasiddha bhumi. When the 11th bhumi opened, for a few days I felt a very powerful healing energy whenever I sat down. It was like my body system was being connected to the source of life and vitality again, and the system was being recharged and fixed back to normal. During the first couple of days, I'd estimate my health recovered to 70-80% of normal. This was a huge and fast change as it had been 10-20% for three years. It took about one month for full recovery. Now after 2-3 months after the shift, I am doing my work and family chores, plus physical exercise for 1-2 hours a day, without getting exhausted at all. At moments I am still amazed how this has happened.
For those in burnout
I am a tantric practitioner who does practices such as guru yoga and deity yoga. I do not know how different systems of medicine (western or eastern) can help those in severe burnout but from my own experience I can say that the help of a spiritual master, or a buddha, is invaluable in this situation. As one's vitality is so low, classic meditation practices where one relies on one's own power and concentration is out of the question, that is, are not useful. For this reason I'd recommend those in burnout to learn and practice these teachings for their health and spiritual benefit.
Thank you for reading.
- Kim, 30.1.2017