In case you’d rather listen:
IÂ Â am not one to meditate upon waking. Letâ€™s just be honest, meditating first thing in the morning,Â I should justÂ call itÂ â€œcontinued sleeping.â€
I do, however, need a ritual to tell my mind/body/spirit that itâ€™s time.
Time to transition from dream to waking.
Time to stir.
Time to move.
Time to awake.
When I was younger I was taught this ritual should involve prayer, or â€œdevotions.â€ These had the same fate as my present-day attempt at morning meditation–aÂ brief moment of lucidity and good intention, followed by snoring. In my adulthood Iâ€™ve tried any number of waking rites–morning pages, first-thing yoga, ten breaths, body scans. Nothing stuck.
Then, my daughter, my wee Cate, came up with the solution.
As a preschooler Cate sat at the table in her pink Pooh Bear nightgown and said, â€œMommy, I am not a morning birwd.â€ Truer words were never spoken.Â Cate isÂ not a morning bird. Not at all. And so, this wise little soul just naturally came up with her own solution â€“ the ritual that would set her day off right â€“ the Morning Cuddle. Hereâ€™s how it goes:
Every morning my alarm goes off ten minutes before I need to wake Cate. I stumble around the room , opening curtains and finding my glasses. Then I walk into Cateâ€™s room and say, â€œGood morning Cate. Itâ€™s Monday morning. Time to get up for school.â€ I open her curtains, and then go back to my room and wait for her to crawl into what she calls â€œthe fluffy bed.â€Â
The bed is our sacred space.
Opening the curtains is our rite.
TheÂ morning catchphrase, our litany.
(Much of life is church you see, in the best sense, when you notice it.)
CateÂ joins me under the duvet and we continue our ritual.
First, the weather app â€“ temparture, chance of rain, and how windy is it going to be? Then, we read a poem. Right now weâ€™re working through Courage: Poems for Gutsy Girls, but we also like Poetry 180 Â andÂ The Writerâ€™s Almanac. After out poem, sheâ€™s starting to come to life, so I ask her if sheâ€™s had any dreams, and I in turn share mine.Â Then we crack open a tiny board book from her toddlerhood and read a rhyming prayer. Five prayers for the weekdays, over and over again for years and years. Finally I snap the book shut with its satisfying board-book slap. The dog leaps up at the sound of it and scampers to the edge of the bed, eager to be helped down. (Itâ€™s his ritual too and he knows that sound means breakfast!) I proceed downstairs to make Cate her tea and toast, and our day has begun.
Now, what is the importance of this ritual? Where is the meaning it in? Why does it work?
The ritual is right fit. Cate is slow to rise. She needs a gentle entry. Unlike the blare of an alarm clock and a rush to be ready, this pattern of waking is not prescriptive. It doesn’t demand that sheÂ shape herself into some kind of mandatesd behavior–â€œup and at â€˜em!” Rather, it isÂ descriptive â€“ the right set of practices for her distinct personhood. It is what Cateâ€™s mind/body/spirit needs. Itâ€™s not something forced upon her. Itâ€™s intuitively hers â€“ born out of self-respect, truth telling, and compassion.
The ritual meets a felt physical need. The slowness of the process letâ€™s Cateâ€™s brain wake up at its own pace. The landing on the fluffy bed tells her body itâ€™s safe to re-enter the waking world. The weather app answers her question; â€œHow shall I dress today so Iâ€™m not too hot or too cold?â€ Cateâ€™s morning ritual doesnâ€™t create another layer of something to tick off her to-do list. It works because it’s pragmatic — it actually meets her bodyâ€™s needs.
The ritual meets a felt spiritual need. Cate is an artist. She draws, she writes, she makes things out of nothing but tape, and toilet paper tubes, and discarded boxes. That kind of creative output requires creative input. Our daily poem is as important to her spirit as breakfast is to her belly. (It doesnâ€™t hurt mom none either!)
The ritual makes a transition. The book slams shut, the dog scampers, mom goes downstairs to make tea. Each of these sounds, motions, and actions tell Cate whatâ€™s coming next. It shuts down resistance (I donâ€™t want to get up!) by communicating a consistent truth â€“ the clock is moving, the sun is brightening, the tea is brewing. Itâ€™s time.
What about you my magpie friend?
What do you need in the morning?
How does your body work when waking?
What are your physical needs? What are your spiritual ones?
Do you have a ritual that serves you well? Whatâ€™s your version of the morning cuddle?Â
Click over to the facebook page and let us know. Because itâ€™s like I always say, â€œThereâ€™s no place to go, but together.â€