I lived with my grandparents for about six month’s time after high school. One of my most vivid memories is of how I awakened each morning to the sound of my grandfather, Ned, putting on his boots. Once they were on and laced up, I’d hear him sigh and pronounce, “Thank God for another day of living.” Hearing those words every morning upon awakening, evoked a great feeling of love and gratitude in me for my grandparents and for the life I experienced while under their roof. It set the tone for my day. Not only that, in looking back, I see this time as one in which I felt quite happy in my work and relationships.
That moment, when we’re first coming into consciousness upon awakening, is a powerful time for us to take advantage of. We’re in an alpha brain wave state, very receptive to mental input of any kind. This slower brain wave state is also creative, the state from which affirmations may manifest. Many spiritual teachers speak about this power point and encourage us to think positive thoughts upon our first conscious awareness, be this at 3:30 AM or 9 AM–whenever we begin to stir.
I just attempted to dowse on the question of how many people consciously use this power point and actively practice conscious awakening on a daily basis. I asked, how many in one hundred and went up to ten thousand and still hadn’t reached one in ten thousand.
The most powerful spiritual practices, are profoundly simple. They’re often overlooked for their subtlety; they lack glamour. Those that do take up a practice may find it surprisingly difficult to implement and stick to. Simple in this case does not equate to easy.
Please pause a moment, if you haven’t done so already and think about what you do before you get out of bed in the morning. What you do after you arise counts, too…first things first. It is likely that you do have a routine, be it conscious or unconscious. After defining your waking routine, ask yourself, what kind of programming am I giving myself for the kind of day I’ll experience? What are the feelings I’ve set into motion? Do you have pleasant anticipation for your day or dread or do you just feel flat? Now put yourself on a scale of one to ten. Let ten represent having a feeling of joy and gratitude, five represents a state of ho-hum, another day, another dollar and one represents a feeling of you don’t know how you’re going to make it through another day.
Self Awareness is the first step in creating positive change. Be honest and please don’t judge yourself if you find yourself at five or under. There are people with longstanding spiritual practices that do not partake in this simple act. Their practice has to wait until they hit the meditation chair or until they do tai chi or yoga, or until something happens externally to bring forth a state of gratitude. We’ve been so conditioned to strive and produce the goods in our culture. That there is power within simplicity and stillness, is a truth that we’re just beginning to grasp.
The Practice. (just in case you missed it in its simplicity)
- 1. First you notice that you are beginning to awaken.
- 2. Make a conscious choice to focus on an image or thought that evokes a feeling of happiness and gratitude. This might be a scene from nature, the face of someone you love, a spiritual leader you relate to. It could be something as mundane as feeling grateful for the enjoyment you’re going to get out the cup of coffee you hear percolating or that it’s Sunday morning and you can stay in bed as long as you like. It’s all about the feeling the subject of your thought evokes, not about the subject itself.
- 3. Add an affirmation. Think about the quality you want to bring to your day and create a simple statement around it which includes gratitude.
That’s it, as simple as 1, 2, 3.
At first it may be helpful to use the same visualization and affirmation each day until you get the practice down. After a while you become conditioned to awakening into a state of gratitude and you can adjust your visualizations and affirmations to each day that lies ahead.
If you want to extend this practice, here’s a couple of suggestions. You might want to place your hands over your heart. Within the space you’ve created with your positive feelings, bring someone or a situation to mind who might need help or healing. Be mindful not to energize the challenge; instead affirm and visualize a positive outcome, or simply hold the thought of them with love and gratitude. You can also imagine yourself at various points throughout your day feeling clear, calm and with a sense of happy anticipation.
A sense of happy anticipation, once instilled, is far better than an alarm clock. One can’t wait for the day to begin and it’s easy to wake up early. I am amazed at how well this practice works. And yet, “some days are diamonds, some days are stones” (Spiritual Guru, Neil Diamond). I make a conscious choice to awaken each day expecting a diamond. It’s the right side of the bed to get up on.
Whether you’re a newbie to daily spiritual practice or an old hat, I highly recommend reading, Deep and Simple by Bo Lozoff, available through the Human Kindness Foundation. You’ll feel so good reading his words that you’ll have to run right out and
Shine your Light!
P.S. Do you have a particular affirmation or visualization you use upon awakening that you’d like to share? I’ve kept it very simple here. There are many beautiful and creative ways to utilize the power of our waking moment. Thanks for sharing yours in the comment section or by using the contact form below. Oh…and my first affirmation of the day? Praise be for another day living…!