Recently I discovered that struggling to get out of bed is called dysania. Five days a week, I wake up to an alarm, and each one of those days the dysania rolls over me. Sometimes I have the will to overcome it and get up, sometimes I give in and delay my day by up to 20 minutes because the warm of being under the duvet is just too good.
Depending on what’s happening in my work life, I can start with the natural ‘to do list’ kind of thoughts pretty quickly, a mental run down of my day focussed on the bits I am perhaps feeling most unprepared for. When I am able to notice what has happened in my mind, I will also notice that my breathing has changed. It has moved from the slow and steady breath of sleep to one more shallow and quickened.
My thoughts alone have triggered this physical change.
If it’s a particularly nerve-wracking day (a big presentation, or chairing a meeting I expect to be challenging will usually do it) then sometimes I find I am holding my breath for a couple of seconds while my mind turns a few thoughts over.
I do not berate myself for these thoughts, my mind is gearing up and rehearsing what it needs to get done today. It is trying to soothe itself by planning for different eventualities (none will come to bear in exactly the way my mind rehearses them, though, as we all know life isn’t like that).
Well-intentioned as my thoughts are, they aren’t really that welcome as soon as I open my eyes. If I can, I prefer to have somewhere between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes to try and just be.
This mini morning bed routine often needs a prompt, so as I roll over to turn the alarm off on my phone, I have placed something on top of my phone which I have to engage with first before I can complete the alarm swipe. Moving this small object that doesn’t belong there acts as my cue and makes it less likely I’ll pick my phone up or roll over and snooze (again).
Disclaimer: I know lots of people say snoozing actually makes you more tired, and they are probably right, but I always give myself one 5 minute snooze if I am getting up to an alarm – I have some cool dreams (which always seem to last ages – just like Inception depicts) and I wouldn’t want to forego that. It’s my choice and I’m sticking to it.
So I have experienced my cue, my reminder to just be for a moment. My intention is really as simple as this: be in the bed, be in the room, be in my body. The focus is to be where I am, rather than being somewhere five hours away tackling a difficult question in front of a large group of people on the screen at work.
Being in my bed, my room and my body
I lie on my back in bed, wiggling my shoulders away from my ears so my neck is made longer.
I move my fingers and toes momentarily to make sure my morning energy has reached the ends of my body.
I take a deep and gentle breath in, smiling if I can for how warm and comfortable I am and how lucky I am to have this bed and this privacy from the world.
And as I breathe out, I relax every muscle I can into the mattress below. I make sure to include my face muscles and jaw in this – you’d be surprised how quickly the jaw can tense up after waking.
For me, it’s like there’s a direct link between my thoughts and my jaw – sometimes as if the whirring thoughts actually tighten it on each circle round.
If I want to, I take a couple more slow breaths and enjoy the sinking sensation as my body gets heavier into the support below it.
“when I am seated firmly inside myself I have my full attention to give to the outside”
I turn my attention to any sounds I can hear for a moment. At home, I am lucky enough to hear the birds outside the window, or the ducks next door. If I’m somewhere else it might be a hum of traffic, peoples voices, or in my favourite old flat in London – the rumble of the tube going right under my bedroom many metres below. I try and listen for any less obvious sounds too, perhaps ones that are a bit further away.
So now I’m in my body, enjoying the comfort of my bed, and I am oriented in place by the sounds I can hear around me. It’s taken about 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on how I am feeling that day. Now I am ready for the final ingredient.
Staring your day by thinking about the end
It sounds strange but I finish by thinking briefly about dying.
Not in a morbid “maybe I’ll get run over today” and “would my funeral be the send off I want it to be” kind of way. This is more “one day the time will come when my body has done its job and can’t go on any longer – so today I will enjoy this body, I will try to be in it for as much as possible”.
It’s a recognition that things won’t be this way forever, and so I will try to soak it up to the best of my ability. And, it’s a silent commitment to try and be present, seated inside my own Self for as much of the day as I can be.
As I build more and more of these mini meditations into my day, I am spending more time inwards. It doesn’t mean I enjoy outwards any less, conversely when I am seated firmly inside myself I have my full attention to give to the outside. This is the joyful paradox – that going inwards also allows us to be more outwards.
Recommended next: Inward today #2 – taking a shower