I’ve never considered myself a morning person. Getting moving in order to get stuff done takes willpower and good habits, as I’ve written before.
But things changed a bit when I adopted Chester, my adorable puppy dog, who little did I know would become my furry, four-legged alarm clock. Although I’m grateful Chester ensures I start my day on schedule, when he wakes up before dawn masquerading as the Energizer bunny, I wish he was equipped with a snooze button.
Our daily routine begins with our morning walk (or in his mind, squirrel hunt) followed by breakfast. Ideally, now mostly awake, I like to sit for my meditation, and center my mind to officially start my day (read: get to work). Chester on the other hand prefers to doze off until lunch.
Some days — especially Mondays — his plan seems like the best one.
This past Monday, I was tempted to let my morning meditation morph into an extended impromptu nap. I laid down on the couch, for “just a few minutes” I told myself. Lo and behold, I was soon joined by a sleepy doggie who curled up on my stomach and quickly got comfortable.
What stopped me from giving in was an overwhelming sense of guilt. Shouldn’t I be more productive right now? What is wrong with me that I feel less like a go-getter, more like a slug?
Then unexpectedly my guilt gave way to gratitude. A new question grew in my awareness: How many people working in an office would love to be right where I am right now?
I became thankful that this choice is even possible, that all of my needs are met right here to allow this, surrendered to the love and connection available right now in this moment, rather than fear of missing out on accomplishing something else.
Everything of course has its right time and place. Eventually sooner than later work needs to be done. If I slept all day like Chester does, how could I afford the fancy food and toys for this pampered pooch?
But making time for mindfulness is equally important. It is a practice in reframing a negative impulse into a positive one. To apply it to my example above I could have let my discouraging self-talk keep me immobile rather than opening up to the awareness of the freedom to enjoy spending time with my pup.
Awakening to the realization that all our needs are met right in this moment — and being thankful — is mindfulness practice that is possible any time, any day in every moment, wherever we are.
Or in the words of Oprah: “Be thankful for what you have. You’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Photo: Michelle Lange