Mornings: they are what you make them. When we wake in the morning, for most of us, the alarm is a starting bell. Confused and groggy we pull through a preparation regimen and briskly leave our homes. Our families leave our homes; this often needles us because it takes the whole family to get the whole family out the door. Parents experience the eddy of imbalance that is backpacks, lunches, test preparation, healthy breakfasts, clean clothes, bus stops… The list goes on, and as it grows, something beautiful is lost, dropped under the breakfast table, perhaps, or left in the dryer after the uniforms are long gone. We have lost a wonderful expression of love: love of the sun and of the day, the dawn of this increment of our life here on Earth.
The sun is but a morning star.
~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Even if you don’t live with family, or if you have a lifestyle that allows morning flexibility, you still understand how this all plays out. It is chaotic, unnerving and sets a disconnected tone for the day. A mindful nod to (or even embrace of) the miracle that is another turn together on Earth generates a spirit of openness, gratitude and peace that will flow into your daily round. How we treat this encounter flows not only into our own experience, but into the collective experience of those we love, those with whom we interact and even those we’ll never meet. Everything connects, mind you, so when you blink your eyes at the rising sun, realize that the first deep breath you take is filled with the same air we all breathe. To make it mindful, try this:
Wake before sunrise. If this seems impossible or unlikely, allow yourself to face east while sleeping. Leave your windows uncovered and allow the tassels of the rising sun to lean into your room. The moments before the dawn are extremely gentle and nuanced, a wonderful harbinger to a mindful day. Soak in the subtleties of the changing light, and tune in to your power of tender perception thus transforming a day that seems familiar and lacks imagination.
Remember your yoga practice. When you sit up in your bed, recall the way your body moves when rising from Savasana (corpse pose). Roll gently to one side (facing east, facing the sun) and allow yourself a moment of calm. Allow your heart to open and pause a moment there, feeling the bed cradle your body. Use your arms to support your efforts to achieve a seated position. Greet the sun with a cleansing breath, allowing the new day to fill your lungs. On the exhale, release any tension that has settled during night. With eyes to the sun, allow yourself a few more inhales and exhales. Bless this welcoming practice as you rise and take your first steps towards the opportunities and bounty that is a new day.
Wake your loved ones with a warm, gentle welcome to the day. Express your love to them with words filled with kindness and meaning. If everyone is so tired that conversation seems impossible, simply recognize the meaning of the words “good morning”. If you hug or kiss your family when they wake, soak in the feeling of their body: the warmth of having just risen from a comfortable nest, the softness of pajamas, and the tenderness of a body not yet tightened by stress. These things are all blessings, and a meaningful physical connection is powerful for you and the person that receives your touch.
Morning is time for yoga and meditation. A short sequence of Sun Salutations and forward bends will encourage blood flow, dust off rusty joints and slog off the dreariness of fatigue. Sit in meditation for a few minutes to tune into your breath and clear your mind. Sleeping feels wonderful, but our alignment in bed doesn’t always foster healthy breathing. A few moments of awareness mediation and posturing can nudge your body towards a composition that will support a mindful, calm morning.
Each day that we awaken is a blessing. We can drown in a dirge of dissatisfaction, or open up to the offerings of the day. To love and honor the day is to welcome possibilities that surpass our wants and expectations and sweeten our collective experience on this Earth together.
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