Morning Mood (written 2018)
Sad moods, bad moods. Sometimes they are lurking like a cat, fully in your face as you wake up and waiting to be fed. Too often, that's what we do. And so they follow us into the day, sharpening claws on everything, leaving the day in shreds.
Just a few days ago, sleeping too late with a minor sinus cold, I was aware of the purring presence of just such a mood before I even opened my eyes. Grateful for the slow waking, everyone else still asleep, I kept my eyes closed a moment more, silently resolving to use practical practice right now where it was needed.
A deep breath then. Another. Right here. Right now. What does this moment hold? Everything outside of me is held in this mind. This is where it lives. The bathroom mirror is a first place for practice. Squinting into that sleep swollen, familiar, scrunchy face, and sending love to the sore and clenched heart that woke cranky and hurting. Everyone has times like this, moods like this. They pass unless we pull them close and nurse them. I think of the faces of my children when I'd wake them early for school. The way my heart would swell with love and how I'd hate to urge and nudge them. Poor babies. Suffering as they resisted waking into the day. This makes me smile into my own face now. Poor baby, resisting the day.
To the kitchen in the morning dark. Walking mindfully and turning up the heat. Whispering gratitude for this cozy home, this instant comfort in the cold of a late fall morning. Nuzzling the dog and inhaling with each breath his warm, familiar, not wholly pleasant, doggy smell, leaning into his morning kisses. Water available at the turn of a tap. Kettle set to boil at the flick of a switch. So many are the blessings that sustain my comfortable and very ordinary life.
Minutes later, bundled in a poofy jacket, with my bare feet stuck in rubber boots, I go out into the world to feed the cat. More nuzzles, silky cool fur sliding along my bent cheek, as he comes out of his own warm house to greet me. And turning then I raise my eyes: the clouds are broken pillows feathering in rosy pink across the sky. This scrunchy face has been opening to smiles with breath and animal love, this scrunchy heart opens in a sudden burst now with the beauty of this world. How lucky to live at a latitude where I haven't missed the sunrise even three hours past my usual waking time.
Hot tea, warm buns and sweet fruit are animal pleasures. As are warmth and safety and the comfort of other bodies close by. This is an animal body I practice within. So that is where I begin. Acknowledging its needs. Distinguishing, as I am able, between what it needs and what it merely wants. For caught in “wanting”, I shiver in the dark, pull blankets close for comfort, and risk missing the sunrise, the gifts, the love.
What I discover, again and again, is that the more open my heart and mind, the softer the claims of the body. When I am as big as the ocean, the hard little nugget of salt that is the imagined me, dissolves into everything that is. Morning mood. Practical practice.