The Intentional Gift
Waking Up Early
I had the unintentional gift of waking up too early this morning. I couldn’t get back to sleep. It wasn’t on purpose. It rarely is. Nonetheless, it was 5:45 a.m., and I was awake. For the day. Sigh.
I had reasons for being awake. But explanations don’t always help. They frequently just feel as if they help. However, I felt so grumpy that I didn’t want to add to my suffering by fretting about reasons that didn’t matter anyway.
I tried burying my head under the pillow, hoping that if I shut out the light and the noise, I’d fall back asleep. Nope. I laid there for ten minutes before I self-compassionately accepted the truth. I was awake for the day. Now, what do I want to do about it?
That was when I made a conscious choice. I could have easily and automatically got up and started my day’s routines. I also wanted to meditate that day, even though I didn’t feel like meditating. Although it would have been so much easier to take a warm shower instead, I chose to spend some time focusing on my breath and my meditation word. So while lying there with my head underneath the pillow, I intentionally inhaled. I thought of the first syllable of my meditation word while I observed how the air felt as it passed through my nose. I thought of the second syllable with the exhale and noticed the warmth that the exhaling breath radiated.
A Chain of Thoughts
Then I thought about my dentist’s follow-up appointment that day, which set off a whole chain of thoughts, “I’ve got to pay him. When is the insurance payment due? What happened to my desire to save money this summer? Can I afford to save another $50 on top of my current savings goal? Saving money is a habit. Does that mean I can create new habits of saving? I should do that.”
It’s incredible how fast the mind takes off on a chain of thoughts. Usually, each idea is an automatic reaction to the preceding thought. And then that thought ignites a new thought and so on. Additionally, each thought generates a subtle emotion or two. So my body bounces back and forth between feeling good and feeling bad, depending on the current thought’s status as a threat or benefit to my current state of mind. It’s a high-speed game of thought-pong each second onscreen in my head.
Thoughts and emotions are like clouds in the sky.
Give them a moment, and they will shift and change.
Fortunately, I noticed this chain happening within a few seconds of it starting. I say “fortunately” because it gave me a chance to practice self-compassion towards myself. Gently, I brought my mind back to my breath and my two-syllable meditation word. I took a breath in and thought the first syllable. Releasing that breath, I thought the second syllable. Then I took another breath and repeated the discipline. And when a new thought presented itself, begging to take over my mind, I simply observed it and let it fade away.
Each Breathe Became a Dedication to Me
Each breath became a dedication to myself, to my focused intention and peace of mind. Although the meditation frequently required effort to stay focused on the concentration points of my breath and my word, that effort paid off wonderfully. When I rose, my mind felt clear, stable, and ready for the day.
I had the unintentional gift of waking up too early this morning. I self-compassionately chose to make it a wonderful gift to myself.
Thank you for reading this. May you have a peaceful day.