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.