Mindfulness training field report: Starting the day

Fed up with starting the day with dread of doing. Instead: being; and a whole day before me

By the time this post is published, I’ll be halfway through a repeat of the 8-week Mindfulness distance learning programme I took slowly – and a little too loosely –  last September. So now I’m repeating it, with this key difference: every day practice.

Sunrise over fence through trees

Sunrise over fence. Laura Eades 2014

Why first thing?

I have trouble to start the day. Especially now, with a novel-finishing schedule underway, and a baby due in a couple of months – I wake up and the panic floods in.

Panic of all that I have to do, that there won’t be any breathing space in the day, that there just isn’t time (to take meal breaks, to tidy up, to accommodate my toddler’s complex forwards-and-backwards-wait-for-me-now-you-go system of navigating our way down the ten flights of stairs to the front door; that she’ll wake up any minute and I won’t have had a minute to steady the bus before the day begins).

It’s awful to start the day with dread of doing.  I want to start it with being.

Luckily, I love mornings

The smell of the air if I step out onto the balcony. The way the light arrives. Fortunately, I’ve been pushing an early rising habit, with various degrees of success, for a couple of years now. (It’s tough, being pregnant and needing the sleep, and our daughter seems sensitive to movement or just an awake presence in the house and wakes up too; but it helps my husband who has to make an early start).

When the dawn comes, I often photograph it. Always different, always beautiful.

Why didn’t my meditation habit take hold? What can I do to help my morning habit?

These four things, if you want to start your day peacefully, will help any of us:

  1. A breakfast tray really helps. The mental image of it helps me rise. Everything laid out. World awaits me.
  2. Lay out the clothes I’ll step into, in the  living room, where I like to begin the day.
  3. Prepare the living-room the night before, so it’s not full of washing, and is inviting. Leave a blanket out.
  4. A decent night’s sleep – forget all the stuff I have to do, and unwind reading fiction. Go early. Go even earlier.

And these four things will help the mindfulness course have my full attention this time:

  1. Previously, I got tangled up with needing coffee/breakfast – I could splash my face with water and go straight to the meditation. If that doesn’t work, I could make my coffee the night before and just reheat it.
  2. I can print off all the materials from the Palouse Mindfulness self-study course  – last time I just read them online – and make a proper booklet of them to work my way through, making notes with tempting coloured pens in the bits you have to fill in. Oh, a bit of underlining usually helps.
  3. I can search for a Mindfulness mentor. A weekly Skype check-in?
  4. I’ve already downloaded all the free audio from the course. For some reason it took me forever to work out how. Make a playlist, put it on my devices.