As I rose (gently) to the surface of my consciousness this Monday morning, my eye hit upon the inauspicious little white clock on the window ledge. Must be three of four years now since we bought that from an online gift shop; one of our better and most life-changing purchases. The reason we chose it (apart from the fact that it is almost unique, these days, for not being operated or controlled by mains electricity, bluetooth or wi-fi!) was that it wakes us to the gentle and convincing sound of bird song. In fact, a choice of bird songs, or a medly…but we have it fixed on a favourite. Since getting it, our morning adrenalin rush has largely subsided. No gush of sweat-inducing cortisol through the blood, no racing heartbeat to quiet, no iron tension in the muscles to talk down from the ledge. When it came to the tipping point of how much I loathed the previous alarm that we had, I could have recited to you a long soliloquy on its most damnable qualities…for it kick started my day with such pain and restriction each time my body was forced into action as though the house was on fire; yet its really both of us who benefit from this far less invasive, more natural, sound. Why anyone would want to wake to a “beep beep beep…” getting louder is beyond me. I can’t even abide such a noise coming second-hand from someone else’s room and hold no truck with such noises in our house. The way we wake really does set the tempo for what comes next and we should choose that carefully and mindfully, not submit to some sort of rocket-launch to stress like it is the inevitable outcome of our day.
Yet we alarm ourselves, don’t we…setting the timer of our awakening with the repeat rumination of all our worries; perhaps especially at the darker end of the year when we sleep deeply yet the later sunrise can feel malevolent, laced with our darkest fears. Why oh why do I still keep waking early with the racing heart-beat of “what if’s” to do with work, stupid niggles and thoughts, my husband keeps asking…yet (last time I worked in a job like that) I did the same and it became the chronic insomnia of the eighteen months before I gave it up. Why not focus on all the good things (and there are so many) at that time of the morning, when we are supposed to be at our most inspired? Why, when we have so many wonderful and optimistic things going on, does the mind still default to all the fear scenarios; in fact, even more so than ever? And in my answer to him I realised the truth of what I said as I realised that to level-peg the high adrenalin of the extreme fear-thoughts that our world currently generates, we have to have excited thoughts of at least equal or higher degree. Like a see-saw, the more stressful our world becomes, the more we need to bolster the opposite end of that with high-excitement of our own making…or that’s how it seems to work at the surface of things.
In which case, he and I aren’t doing so well on our see-saw because our domestic lives are fulfilled and blissful (yes) but we don’t invite that high-adrenalin factor into any part of our lives any more…I simply can’t as excitement of any tipping-point amount is way too much for my physical health and, besides (as per my last post Are you a true rarity) it’s not in either of our personality types to want that white knuckle ride through life. The masses accommodate that see-saw ride with stress by countering it with soap operas and high-octane films, with alcohol-driven kitchen sink dramas and spending too much at the shops, with wild holidays, sports, obsessive consumerism, addictive behaviours and taking note of all those alarming headlines on the news…but what do we do? None of those things. Yoga, art, walks in the country, reading great books, discussing way-out ideas, gardening, taking in mountain views and gently planning for our slightly alternative future…how do these level-peg with the high stress of commercial working life? There’s such a truism in this…the more our culture has forced this need to work harder, faster, closer to the edge, the more a desperate need for the drug of adrenalin-fuelled pastimes has risen and become quite the industry for those who benefit from both. When we extricate ourselves from such a lifestyle, we are often left with just one adrenalin source in our lives…and its the need to maintain enough money to keep a roof over our head. No wonder it claims centre stage of our early morning wake-time; the time when we should be spinning and spiraling our greatest desires and aspirations.
Is there an antidote while we still have one foot in the “real” world”. As ever, I feel it comes from meditation; not necessarily at that time of day but by fitting it into our lives at some time or other without making excuses that we never “have the time”. The more we re-entrain our unoccupied mind to entertain consideration of a vast and expansive sea of all possibility (not just the worst of them…) the more it will go there, by default, in the void of early morning stirring. Instead of our conscious mind ruminating on the very contracted “what if’s”of the imperfect world in which we are, as yet, forced to continue playing a minor role, it will open its wings and expand to fill an entire universe of possibility with its flights of exploration. We remember, suddenly (and with ever more consistency), that we have many more choices than the very limited ones that appear to be demanding all our attention. This is my way. When the ruminating kind of sleeplessness happens to me…and it still does…I drop myself into meditation and these are often some of my most powerful awakenings, followed by days in which very different outcomes come along to pleasantly surprise me and synchonicities line up to progress my most expansive plans. A whole universe of possibility is more than any match for the adrenalin rush of fear…and no addictive, compulsive or otherwise focus-distracting behaviours required.
Photo: Shaouraav Shreshtha