Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Start Well > End Well

All’s well that ends well. But it is more likely to end well if it starts well. How do you start your day? What is the first thing you do when you wake up, even before you open your eyes? Before you get out of bed? As soon as you stand up?

Typically, my brain kicks in pretty fast when consciousness first surfaces, like a hamster jumping on a wheel and taking off, going nowhere. I start thinking, planning, anticipating–automatically, with no real organization or accomplishment. Before long, I have loaded my plate with more than I can do and I’m worrying about all the things I won’t get done. My thoughts are scrambled and my brain is already tired. And I haven’t even opened my eyes yet! Someone once told me my brain is a scary place. They have no idea.

My brain reminds me of a dog I used to have. She was a great dog, but a bit high strung with too much nervous energy. When left to her own devices, she would get into trouble. I realized that she needed a job to do. She was happy when she had a task. Fortunately, she was smart and easy to train. (This is where the comparison to my brain breaks down.) When she was able to direct her energy in healthy and acceptable ways, not only was she a happier dog, but she was also a big help to me. (Except for the morning I sent her out to get the newspaper and then found all my neighbors’ papers on my front porch. She was so proud.)

In an earlier post, I compared training our minds to training a puppy. (What Does Your Homepage Look Like? 2/8/10) Although my mind is long past the puppy stage, I realized that my brain, like my dog, needs some directed activities. So I set out to develop some getting-my-day-started tasks for my brain so that we would both be happier.

Now when I first awaken into consciousness, I say a prayer. Sometimes it is the Lord’s Prayer, because when my brain isn’t fully awake that one is easy to remember. Sometimes it is my own variation. Something like–My father in heaven, I praise your holy name. May your perfect love be fully manifested in all the earth as it is in heaven. Thank you this day for my daily bread. Help me forgive others as you forgive me now and always. Leave me not in temptation but purify my spirit, that I may glorify you in all my ways. Amen. Sometimes I just say thank you.

I open my eyes and find my dog curled up next to me under the covers. We greet each other and look out the window to see what the day looks like. It always looks good. I take a few deep breaths and climb out of bed. If you spend much time around dogs or cats, you will notice that they frequently do some serious stretching when they get up. A good model for us, so when I stand up I do a few stretches. A few more deep breaths. And I’m ready for the day. Well, okay, I am ready to make it as far as the shower.

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