By Kellie Schorr
“Honey, get up.”
“No. I’m sleeping.”
“You are not.”
“Well, I was…”
“Get up. I need you. The printer is broken.”
Bleary and more than a little annoyed, she goes into the spare room to see a red light flashing on the printer console. Cyan ink is low. She pushes the test button. It prints perfectly.
“You said it was broken. It works fine.”
“I didn’t try it. I just saw the light. I’m not an IT tech.”
The sun peeks through the trees filling the house with horrible morning light. The printer needs a cyan cartridge in about a week. Alexa is in the corner loudly spouting news about the president. A crazed cardinal who built its nest in the yard decided the red Honda is some kind of rival bird and crapped all over the side-view mirror. The bills are waiting. The tea is cold.
“You woke me up for this?”
Mindfulness is all about awakening; the act of opening our eyes (literal and spiritual) to see the world as it truly is and ourselves as part of the whole. Every time I hear about the pursuit of awakening my gut reaction is always, “Why the hell would anyone want to do that?”
People are dropping off Facebook like over-ripe apples as political opinions compel them to put vodka in their oatmeal. Seasoned pundits are taking extended Twitter breaks because they are overwhelmed by the chaos of the world as presented in 280 characters. Who wants to awaken and see the world in 200 million or more?
If ignorance is bliss, sign me up for the extended cruise. I’ll awaken when things are nicer, the kids are older, people drive better, and robot maids are a real thing (no, Roomba does not count). Right now, I’m just trying to get through the day.
That sounds reasonable, right? It shouldn’t. It’s the exact opposite of truth. The world doesn’t look like a topsy-turvy garbage dump spewing random piles of nuclear waste, unfiltered commentary, and empty candy wrappers because we are awakening. It looks that way because we are asleep.
We rise and work, laugh and love, cry and grasp though the dark chasm of our slumber.
We chew automatically.
We kick and huff like the dreaming dog chasing rabbits.
We drive in a haze.
We achieve in a rainbow.
People appear and disappear from our world with stunning regularity and we rarely question how that is even possible. We spout opinions about birth control, gun ownership, and net neutrality from a comatose mind regulating a slowing heart rate. We’ve been this way so long it’s no longer called sleep. It’s hibernation.
Then some person, some thought, some prayer, some barking dog or giggling toddler, wanders into our room and attempts to wake us up. It sucks to be woken up. Particularly before the alarm goes off.
That’s the trouble. The alarm went off years ago.
Awakening is not the ability to rise (or shine) but to take the lens from your mind and interact with the world as it truly is. It allows us to see the insecurity inside the bully, the fear inside passivity, the generosity in discipline, the courage in love, the emptiness in theft, the miracle in forgiveness, and the light in the darkness. An awakened soul is not more burdened with reality. It is more open with compassion.
There are two ways to wake up in the morning. You can set an alarm to some horrendous sound that only grows louder and more soul crushing with every second, snap on the brightest lights in the room and BAM! You’re awake. It’s an instant, energy fueled, entry into the day. There’s some disorientation at first. The searing assault on your eyes will cause you to squint until they adjust to the radiance. Once you acclimate, you’re ready to go.
Alternatively, you can leave the blinds open and as the sun slowly rises the level of light in your room increases naturally. Your body becomes aware of the day and your eyes open, already adjusted to the warm, natural radiance. You steadily emerge mindful of the warm blankets, soft pillows, and lofty dreams you were having that you must now bid adieu.
A few cups of tea and you’ve joined the land of the waking. Look. Out. World.
There’s nothing wrong with either way. It just depends on how you awaken best. Meditate and pay attention to as much as you can, or pick just one thing and dive deep, exploring the sights, sounds, feelings, and essence of its very nature. Wake at your own pace; enlighten the room. Open a window to the world as it is.
Awakening won’t just give you a stark, high density pic of ruins and ashes piled on all sides. You’ll also see the folds inside flowers making little worlds all their own, the depth of desire in a long stare, and the heart connection of a good laugh. It won’t be fast. It won’t be paradise. It will decrease the suffering in your world, and the world.
You’ll be glad you woke up for this.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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