Monday, May 13, 2013


I roll over, pile up a couple of pillows, and sit up on them. Lift the cardboard box that conceals the clock to get a glimpse of the time. 5:02. A little light leaks in around the curtain: dawn already? Seems too early in Spring for that.

I put my hands together. “Until enlightenment I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and in the Supreme assembly of the Sangha...” My lips barely move, and I hear the murmur only in my mind's ear. I repeat the prayer three times. “...may I realize buddhahood, in order to help all sentient beings.”

I rest my hands on my thighs – I find these days that when I fold them in my lap, my shoulders tend to come up and forward, and queer my posture – and let my eyes find their place. I let my back arch, and my belly swag. I can't see at all, but my eyes come to rest in their accustomed position, somewhere around the unseen foot of the bed. Still very dark. I lay my mind, deliberately, on my breath, which falters a moment, under the weight of my attention, but rallies, and takes its way, carrying my mind with it. The breath washes in and out of my body, and my thought rolls on top of it, like a beach ball in the surf.

Sometimes there's a constriction, and I, remembering an instruction from – it must be twenty years ago now – my very first meditation teacher, I let my mind leave my body with the breath, let my whole self depart and dissolve with the out-breath. As I do the room quite suddenly is visible. Not that the light has changed; it hasn't. But I can see, the dim shapes of bed and dresser, the drapery over the little closet, the dawn light edging the curtain. As I breathe in again the room goes dark and invisible again. The light, or rather my eyes' ability to receive it, comes and goes a few times more. And it is, I think, truly getting lighter outside.

I lift the box again. 5:24. Call it a sit. Hands together again: “By this virtue may I quickly realize Mahamudra, and establish all beings, without exception, in this state.”

The well-worn words tumble out. My hair is tousled, my eyes sticky with sleep. A new day, a new week, a new life: but the same breath, washing in and out, whether my attention is on it or not. I get up to let Kiki in, and open the living room shades.



NT said...

it has never occurred to me to meditate in bed on first awakening. What a liberating notion!

Oh, and you're missing a word, I think: "Sometimes there a constriction,"

Dale said...

Ah, thanks!

Yes. "Before the World gets hold of you," as Lama Michael says.

rbarenblat said...


Phil Plasma said...

I'll awake when the alarm goes off and then fall back asleep again. I will awake again, look at the clock and realize I have only twenty-one minutes to get the kids up, dressed, fed, make their lunches, and get myself out of the house to get to work. Maybe I'll have time to meditate once my children can manage their morning routines on their own.

Dale said...

:-) Yes, Phil, when I had kids to get out the door, not a chance!

Sabine said...

What a wonderful way to start the day. I have just given up the alarm clock because the dawn chorus wakes me anyway - but way too early. I'll be thinking of this post tomorrow morning, who knows what'll happen.

Zhoen said...

I've come to trust my chiming alarm, but so often I'm awake before it goes off anyway. My mind doesn't work at that hour, though.

Jayne said...

I suddenly want to wake up instead of go off to sleep. Sometimes, I think it's better to just not sleep, but oh yes, glorious morning--the ability to receive it. Beautiful. :)

Zhoen said...

I can only think this is how diabetics feel. Or someone with a chronic illness that has to monitor their life closely in some way. Always careful.

Or the chronic injury that limits motion, or exacts it's revenge.

Courage, dear friend. Three months is a heartbeat.