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Daily Zen

The zen diary – April: Secrets of waking up radiant.

The theme of this month is simple but essential: how to make waking up the morning a good experience. The first thought, the state of mind where we emerge from the embrace of sleep, the first word, the first image, all these influence how your day will unfold. You can , of course, emerge all dopey from the previous night, , grumbling like a baer, dragging your feet as far as the coffee machine, your thoughts galloping away like wild horses….

Hmm, well, it can be so, but be aware of this: all the spiritual traditions strongly advise against it. In India, where 3000 years of wisdom gaze down on us, the practitioner begins the day around 3 am with an hour of yoga practice, facing the rising sun. But it’s ok, before arriving at this ideal, you can make a start by getting back control of your thoughts. And set yourself up for a royal awakening.

Control the thought machine.

To get out of bed on the right side, it’s particularly important to be aware of the first thought on awakening. It may often manifest a certain dissatisfaction, for instance “Oh, no, not morning already!’ Or else, ‘Oh, no, I overdid it again last night….’ Or ‘OK, what have I got to do today? Oh yes, shopping list for the Co-op, then the file for Mr ..then I really need to remember Z before midday..’ And then oops, off we go, the thinking mind takes off like a rocket.

But how can we do otherwise? To get on top of the day, start by being aware of the uninterrupted chain of your thoughts on waking. Observe what your brain has chosen to think , spontaneously, only to completely forget it a moment later. Leave your mind to think, as that’s what it’s for, then get on with your day leaving your little windmill of thought idling away, in order to freely choose your mood of the day. It is in this experience of detachment that you will get the greatest reward: time slowing down, leaving you the time you really need to start the day well.

The key : to get to this point, you need to anticipate. For in the morning, after an epic night riding the clouds, you risk forgetting your good resolutions. So I advise you to use different things to help you remember : put a post – it on your bedside table, or your bathroom mirror if you are one of those people who starts to wake up in the bathroom, change your alarm tone to give you a surprise, record your voice with a nice message ‘ Come along and get up, my lovely, as you are going to have a wonderful day.’

In addition : after some days, this new spiritual practice for early morning will be established….and will reveal even more delights.


Translation : Hilary Mac Rae

Illustration : Guillaume Long


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