For more years than I can recall I have awakened very early each morning whether I have to or not. When I say very early I mean between four and five a.m. My own daughters and grandkids make fun of me for getting up at the "butt crack of dawn," as my granddaughter, Olivia, is fond of saying. Other people gasp in disbelief when I tell them what time I get up each day and just shake their heads at my craziness. What others don't realize is, that for me, those quiet early morning hours help me get on the right footing for the day.
The first action of the day is turning on the Keurig and then letting the dogs, DeeDee and Izzy, out because when either Rich or I get out of bed they think it's time to hit the ground running. I make that first blessed cup of coffee since my brain needs both the ritual and the caffeine before I can fully feel awake and coherent. Just ask Rich about what kind of bear I am without it. Then I just sit quietly in the early morning darkness and let my mind wander. Sort of a form of waking up meditation.
After I finish the coffee it's time for serious meditation. Because I have old bones I don't sit on a floor cushion. I allow myself the luxury of sitting, cross legged on my cushy sofa with a warm, furry, throw over my lap, the dogs asleep nearby and for the next ten minutes I try to focus my mind solely on my breath. Have I ever fully succeeded in erasing all thought from my mind? In achieving the ultimate nirvana? Ha! Never. But what I have done is what meditation coaches advise. When my mind wanders, I become aware that I'm thinking and then I consciously pull my thoughts back to my breath. That's the best any ordinary human with a busy life can hope for.
Some people who have tried and failed to completely blank out their brain, give up the practice after a session or two and wail, "I just can't meditate!" I was sorely tempted to do that many times through the years. Even now I don't practice with the regularity that I believe would be most beneficial. That's why they call meditation a practice. But here's the thing, on those days when I do practice, for the most part, I feel so much more able to face anything the day throws at me by taking a deep breath, or two, or three, before I react.
Is this infallible? Am I able to take a breath every time before responding? Absolutely not. Just ask Rich since he's the one who has had to live in even closer proximity to me than we ever imagined for the past year. But this quiet start to the morning has helped me survive the past four tumultuous years, to not give up on my fellow man, and to take joy in the many blessings in my life, large and small.