What I learnt from staying in bed

Kaspa writes: 6.00am. One of the cats comes in to the bedroom, meowing like the drawn out glissando of a singing-saw. I roll over in bed. The room is already light; the bedroom curtains are too thin and appear to glow in the dawn.

I try to ignore the wailing cat, who is just looking for attention, or breakfast, and pull the duvet over my head.

Satya slips out of bed and whispers to the cat. I hear her going downstairs and the quicker footsteps of the cat following her.

It’s quiet again. Perhaps I can go back to sleep. But it’s too hot underneath the duvet and too bright in the room. I reach over the bedside table, where I keep an eye mask (like the ones they give you on long haul flights), cover my eyes and return to dream-land.

An hour and a half passes. I begin to wake up again. My awareness wakes up slowly, first into the middle of a strangely fraught dream. Some time passes and the dream drops away like a backdrop falling at the back of a stage, to reveal another scene behind.

Incoherent thoughts wash across my mind. They are a mixture of old memories and fantasies about the future, none of which are grounded in reality. There is a selfish quality to these thoughts. I watch them grasping at superficial ideals, and angrily pushing other things away.
Some more time passes. The curtain of these thoughts falls away too.

I’m conscious of the room, of the bed beneath me and of the day ahead. The thoughts I have now are more grounded in reality, and less selfish. I’m ready to get up.

Sometimes this process takes just a few moments. Sometimes the thin tendrils of the dreams and selfish thoughts hang around throughout the morning, like silver threads of cobweb caught on my jacket.

Becoming aware of this waking up process leads me to be kind towards myself. I feel less guilty about the days when I struggle to bounce out of bed bright eyed. I have learnt to respect my unconscious mind working things out in its own way.

My ‘waking up’ karma will be different to yours. Perhaps like Satya you will wake up early and do an hour of something before anyone else in the house wakes up. This morning Satya spent time gilding whilst I was still emerging from sleep. The standing Buddha I bought last week is almost completely covered in ‘gold-coloured leaf’. Perhaps like me it takes your more enlightened mind longer to wake up than your foolish mind.

Those early morning thoughts and dreams are a window into my unconscious mind and show me what fears and hopes are swirling around in there, affecting the actions I take in my daily life. As I get to know myself more deeply and accept those hidden parts of myself I can begin the process of letting go.

If there is an exhortation in this email it is to become truly intimate with your own processes.

What can you learn from watching your own minds rhythm throughout the day? Can you work with the nature of your own mind, rather than against it? What can you see in the liminal spaces of your own mind as it wakes up or in the twilight moments before falling asleep?

Image: Asleep by Ginney, shared under an attribution share-alike licence.

Comments & replies

4 thoughts on “What I learnt from staying in bed

  1. Lara S

    As is so often the case, this post arrives at the perfect time. Just this week I have begun to notice how I wake every morning with a feeling of dread. It rests heavy in my chest and throat for no apparent reason; my current life circumstances are quite pleasant and enjoyable with nothing apparent to dread. Working with this feeling I have begun to think that it is past-life energy that is stirred up at night and coming to the surface to be released in the morning. This post inspires me to work more directly with it, to ask it what it needs and why it is here. Thank you.

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