January 11, 2023

A Pema Chödrön Quote for when it Feels like we’re Crawling out of our Skin.


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Lately, I’ve had the sensation that I’m crawling out of my skin.

It’s a constant state of discomfort. Of not being able to sit without feeling antsy. Of not being able to lay down without adjusting and readjusting. Of feeling like there’s something I’m forgetting to do.

Of wanting things to feel “just right” but not being able to reach that imaginary point.

I’m not drowning in unhappiness, and I’m not facing major personal drama at the moment. In fact, things feel relatively calm on one level. On another level, there’s a buzz of excitement…of plans and moments that I’m looking forward to.

And still, my mind and body struggle to relax.

I try to rest, to listen to meditations and will my mind to settle. I pray and light candles and sage my space until I get scared I’m going to set the smoke detector off.

I move my body. I stretch and do sun salutations. I salsa dance and swing my kettle bell. I breathe and bend and squat until it feels like my legs are begging for mercy.

But that current of discomfort remains a quiet, nagging whisper.

My anxiety likes to convince me that this feeling is proof that something is wrong. Or that if something isn’t wrong right now, it’s most certainly coming―so I better be ready.

My stubbornness tells me that I just haven’t found the right cure, the right mix of self-care practices, that will allow me to chill the f*ck out. That maybe a different meditation or podcast or ritual will do the trick.

My optimism tells me that I just need to be more gracious, that I need to be outwardly thankful for all the good in my life. That if I can focus more on the positive, those antsy feelings will slowly disappear.

My anger tells me that I’m holding something in that needs to burst out. That it’s time to take all my latent frustration out on whoever is closest, consequences be damned.

My rational mind tells me I need to call my therapist.

The truth is that I could try all of these things and still feel like I want to bust out of my skin. I could prepare for the worst and light 12 candles a day and create a gratitude list and start World War whatever with my partner on a Wednesday night and still end up face to face with my discomfort. Except then I’d probably feel even worse.

So for now, I’ve decided to just be uncomfortable.

I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to make it feel better in my body. I don’t have to rationalize it away in my head.

Instead, I can be guided by these words from Pema Chödrön:

“We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience.”

As crappy as this feeling is, it is also proof of life―of my life in this moment. It is my fresh air.

And maybe it’s less about wanting to crawl out of my skin and more about recognizing that I’m outgrowing the skin I’m in.

(Or I could just be f*ckin’ grumpy for no reason. And that’s okay too.)


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