Do you remember that feeling as a teenager when your mom would wake you up for school? The feeling like you could sleep forever and it still wouldn’t be long enough? The pain of getting out of your warm bed and into the cold morning was almost unbearable. Showering, drying your hair, deciding what to wear, dressing yourself, eating breakfast, being on time – the work required to get ready for the day seemed almost endless.
Similarly, in the religion of Islam, the earliest morning prayer (before dawn) is considered the most sacred. Beyond committing oneself to the communion to a higher force, it requires a specific degree of action, an action of consciously choosing to wake up from a sleep filled comfort and into the duty of devotion. This is often not a painless task.
These incidents are similar to what one might experience on the path of awakening and living alive. Waking up from the safety of our numb sleepiness is uncomfortable. Choosing to let life in feels risky because life is full of change and change is always unknown. Waking up is not something that is done one time and then checked off the list. Just like high school and morning prayer, it is a daily calling. Awakening is a continuous choice available to us in every moment.
In a society where anxiety is THE most common mental ‘dis-ease’ and depression affects more than 15 million people (in the US alone), our bodies and our spirits seem to be communicating with us in ways that it never has before. The call to wake up has never been stronger. The pain we feel physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually is the felt difference between the life we are choosing to live and the life that is possible for us – beyond our comfort and closure.
Do you feel like there is more to this life than what you have been choosing? Can you feel it inside of you? Can you hear the small voice that has been gently guiding you to your heart all along? So, you may be wondering, “how do I wake up”?
Tips for staying on the path of wakefulness:
Deep and meaningful connections. One that cuts beyond the surface level drama of life and allows you to feel deeper into yourself and the heart of life itself. You can feel when a relationship drains you or fills you up. Choose wisely.
Meditation & Mindfulness Practices
Meditation is a powerful tool for awakening. Trust that even amidst the stillness you are moving great lengths. Beyond formal meditation, other mindfulness practices are available in every now moment. Jon Kabbit- Zinn says, “Mindfuless means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It is cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention, intentionally, in the present moment, and then sustaining that attention over time as best we can. In the process, we become more in touch with our life as it is unfolding.” Think nature walks, deep breathing, mindful listening or body scans.
Asking the right questions, inquiry
We are where we are because of repeated unconscious choices made day after day. If we want to understand why and how we created our present day reality, all we need to do is look at the choices we made in the past. By asking radical questions that, when answered with complete honesty, change the way we see ourselves and make decisions – ultimately moving us toward the life we desire. I’ve come to realize that the truth never lies in the answers themselves but in the questions we seek them in.
Express your creativity
In what ways do you express yourself creatively? The outlets are absolutely endless. It doesn’t matter what you do, only that you find what works for you and you do it! You are an instrument; let the divine play you.
Have fun, play
Nothing keeps you stuck in your slumber longer than taking life too seriously. Go have fun, let loose, and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. It’s almost impossible to feel anything but alive when you’re in a state of play. As George Bernard Shaw stated, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
Believe it or not, living alive is rare. Even after discovering how to wake up, we will often refuse. We may blame our world for being too difficult and painful or the universe for denying us things or experiences. We may blame our family or professional life for requiring too much of our time and energy or our partners for not supporting us enough. We may even blame ourselves for being too tired or not strong enough. Convenient isn’t it? That we long for the aliveness that we never seem to have the time to offer. We complain about our life and blame others, until we realize that right now, we are either choosing to live awake or we are asleep. Over and over, notice if you have fallen back into bed, then consent to your awakening once again. Nothing and nobody is stopping you, but yourself.
In the end,
although your eyes
I hope you’ll find that your heart