Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How We Wake Up- Literally!

Years ago I heard Barbara Marx Hubbard say, “It used to be that when I woke up and jumped out of bed in the morning, I felt I was already behind.” It reminded me of periods in my life when I’ve felt driven to do more, move faster, try harder- years when I too felt like I woke up behind. People who lived with me said I “hit the ground running.” Some mornings, particularly after I developed CF/ME, I just plain hit the ground.

Barbara’s comment made me turn my attention to my experience of waking up in the morning. I began to notice my experience when I first opened my eyes. Don’t get me wrong- I wanted and hoped to wake up centred and grateful for the day, full of calm, clear energy. But what I wanted more was to see what was true: what I was actually experiencing upon waking each day.

Lately, as I lie in bed reviewing dreams and becoming aware of the feel of the smooth cotton sheets and warm duvet on my body, I am filled with an ecstatic sense of gratitude for my life- for my body-self, my home and friends and family, for all the changes and challenges in my life over the past year. . . for simply being where I am. I literally wake up smiling.

The thing that is startling to me about this is what has changed, what I am not experiencing that had been pretty much a constant for a very long time.

I heard Barbara’s comment about how she used to wake up over ten years ago. And, as I turned my attention to my experience upon waking, I became aware of a constant thread of tension beneath the surface of whatever else was happening. Whether I was feeling physical pain or energetic enthusiasm, whether I was looking forward to or dreading the day, there was beneath all of this, a strange and familiar tension that ran through my body. It was like a thin taut wire running down the centre of my arms and legs and looped once around my heart. For days I simply observed and wondered what this was. And then one day I realized: I was waking up every day with a sense of bracing for a blow. Beneath all of my other experiences of the start of the day there was a sense of anticipating and getting ready to absorb a potentially damaging blow of some kind. It wasn’t rational or literal. It wasn’t even a thought. It was a tensing against what felt like the high probability that sooner or later something was going to metaphorically “hit” me.

I don’t know when this began but I am guessing that it had been with me for a long time. I hadn’t noticed it until I deliberately looked because it was a constant, like a familiar background noise you don’t even hear anymore. I didn’t judge it or try to get rid of it, and it didn’t stop me from often feeling gratitude and joy. But, whenever I paid attention as I awoke, it was always there.

And now. . . . it’s gone. Really! I’ve watched for months. I’m not even sure how long it was gone before I realized it. But there it is- gone! I know this may not sound like much, but to me it’s like a small miracle. And as I lay in bed these mornings instead of “bracing for a blow” I’m filled with deep overwhelming gratitude for being alive. I’m not trying or remembering or cultivating gratitude- it is just there, by grace, filling me. And I cannot help but smile.

And, as I observe this open-hearted gratitude, I notice how relaxed I am in my mind-body-heart-self. I feel a deep sense of rest. Now, if you’ve read The Call you know that rest is not something that has come easily to me. Rest, for me, has often been elusive, partial and non-restorative. But in this place, every breath restores and the sense of rest is cellular.

So, here’s what I know: One of the many gifts of the gratitude that comes by grace is a deep restoration of body, mind, heart and spirit. Because, when we’re filled with and held by gratitude we can’t simultaneously try to pull away from what is, can’t brace for a blow- real or imagined, remembered or anticipated. I don’t know that we can make this all-encompassing gratitude arise, but we can cultivate our own willingness and awareness to receive it when it comes.

Did I find rest because I felt gratitude or was I filled with grateful appreciation for life because my habitual “bracing for a blow” was dissolved by a combination of changing inner and outer circumstances and again- more grace? I don’t know. But I do know that it is difficult to really completely receive anything- rest, another, life, joy, the moment- when you’re bracing for a blow. And these days, I awaken filled with gratitude, able to receive the moment, surprised to find my eyes filling with tears of inexpressible joy simply for the blessing of being alive.


  1. what else is there to say but, oh how truly happy I am for you. this a blessing beyond compare. it brought me great joy to read this today. Namaste...

  2. well I am truly on a journey. Last night I stumbled on a website giving information that we don't allow ourselves to be happy. We welcome joy into our lives then we feel guilty about being happy. I often experience times when things are truly wonderful only to have myself waiting for the shoe to drop. Why is that? What am I holding onto? The inner thread that runs through me. This thread sometimes binds me. Today I found how to untangle the web so I can move forward. Spirit spoke to me today, thank you for that.

  3. I simply want to say "grace happens" and I am glad it found you!

  4. I think this reminds of of this line in 'the invitation' : i want to know if you can bear pain my or yours and not try to fix it, hide it or ... ; ,,. Or have become shrivelled by ?pain.
    I think the under tone is not to worry, the day'll take care of itself.
    You talk about courage!