Day 1. I hear the click of the computer clock. Click, whir, computer to CD player, here comes some music. Like the machine that it is, it's on time, and like life, it delivers a random shuffle. This sets the tone for the morning.
Turning inward, I connect with the stillness of my body. If sleep has left me soft, I enjoy the space that is open. I scan my body. If I find a frown, I invite a smile. I rotate my ankles to pull the smile through to my toes.
Next, I check in for silence. The music drifts around the edges of awakening. If inner self-talk begins to buzz, I allow the chatter to fade into the harmonies of a refrain. Ankles and legs entwined with those of my husband, I wonder what demons of his frequent sleeplessness visited his night and how he emerges. I allow this thought to join the notes at the edges of awareness. Having connected with stillness and silence, I feel ready.
I inhale and kick myself out of bed on the next exhale, landing and stretching into whatever this day will send me. Feet planted firmly on the floor, I check my connection with spaciousness. If I sense a restriction of mind or grip of ego, I breathe fully into my heart, reaching my arms upward and holding my breath. My heart space opens wide as I exhale and release. I am connected with my best self and the opportunity of this new day.
Day 2. I hear the click of the computer clock. Click, whir, computer to CD player, here comes some music. Like the machine that it is, it's on time, and like life, it delivers a random shuffle. I know the music coming, and yet I don't know. I'm stuck in a dream. I'm stuck in being stuck.
There is no stillness. I'm wound as tight as the trip wire on a snare.
There is no silence. My throat tries to force the whine voiced by a rabbit caught the snare.
There is no spaciousness. I'm so far from myself that my pelt hangs lifeless in the tangles that claimed my sleep.
The start to this day requires self-discipline. I straighten my arms, open them wide, and clap hard. I clap and shout at the same time "may all of my negative dreams disappear.” The shock waves rattle my angst and allow fresh space to open all around and through me. I become aware of my breath. I find stillness in the loosened space within my whole being. I rest there. I invite the voices and sounds of the dream to become silent and release me. I rest there.
I inhale and kick myself out of bed on the next exhale, landing and stretching into whatever this day will send me. I write in my journal, and shreds of the dream’s mental grip dissolve into spaciousness. As I reflect on this medicine, I remain aware of the gift of the dream and ask the story to fade into the edges of my open mind. When I feel ready, I connect with the opportunity of the new day, and the dream no longer claims me.
Practice Support for the Medicine of Awakening to a New Day
This way of awakening is one of many ways that I have come to practice what my teacher, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, teaches as Inner Refuge. Whether I wake in a place of blissful ease, emerge from a peaceful dream, or stumble out of nightmare, the habit of “coming home to oneself” by connecting with stillness, silence, or spaciousness is a healthy recipe for starting the day – or for dealing with any challenging moment that arises at any time. This is known as informal practice.
Stillness, silence, and spaciousness are doorways for coming home to oneself at any time, in any place. The steps are easy to remember:
• Connect with the stillness of your body. Rest here.
• Connect with the silence of speech. Rest here.
• Connect with the spaciousness of your open mind. Rest here.
Each of these three doorways will take you to the same place, the warmth of your natural state of being, the gift of your presence to yourself and the world.
As simple as these informal practice steps may seem, the greatest long term benefits come if we also learn the formal practice of Inner Refuge. During a three-year training in the The 3 Doors Academy founded by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, I was fortunate to delve deeply into these practices, leading to positive change in all aspects of my life. As an experientially-based educational organization, The 3 Doors Academy offers selected practices from the ancient Bön-Buddhist tradition to the modern world in a secular form. These practices offer everyone the opportunity to transform body, speech, and mind and bring a new perspective to their life.
To learn more, I recommend:
- Online practice sessions (no cost)
- A trilogy of books with simple and direct instruction to reflect upon our ordinary limiting experiences in a new way. This is medicine that is not owned by any tradition but is at the heart of all spiritual experience. All three are by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche: Awakening the Sacred Body, Tibetan Sound Healing, and Awakening the Luminous Mind.