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IMG_3156Last night at a wonderful women’s meeting after the big snowstorm, my first time “out” in two days, I was reminded of how isolated and confused many of us can get, especially on cold winter mornings.  I actually had two lovely mornings indoors, while a beloved child slept, doing meditation, readings that inspire me and Qi Gong to the rising sun.  But developing the morning routine, and, in retirement, combining it with exercise connected to nature, has helped me greatly to dispel isolation, loneliness and confusion during the first couple of winter morning hours.

What do I do?
First: journal…write whatever thoughts, feelings, dreams, worries, bright ideas, affirmations come to me…write until my body, mind and feelings are calm, in the present moment, ready to begin formal meditation.

Second: Qi Gong (or yoga, any stretching, shaking, breathing movement that works for you).  Doing “Sunlight” Qi Gong as the sun is on the horizon is very energizing for me.    Ideally outdoors, but not when it’s so cold, rainy or windy.

Third: Read inspiring words from the wise ones.  I’m using Your True Home by Thich Nhat Hanh and one of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings right now, just short readings that give me food for concentration in meditation.

Fourth: Sitting meditation for a minimum of 20 minutes (usually with my husband or twice a week with a sangha of friends for an hour of sitting, reading and dharma sharing).

Fifth: Prayer that the connection with my Higher Powers will stay with me during the day, that I live the day in mindfulness and service to others, that all those I love and all beings be safe, happy, free from fear, anger and worry.  I have developed a written list of people in my family, community and the world for whom I pray daily, then the St. Francis Prayer, Serenity Prayer, etc.

This routine was suggested by a friend over 28 years ago and has expanded as time allows, but even when I taught high school for my second 20 year career, I got up at 4:30am to be able to have time to find connection with the Universe, energy in my body and mind and calmness in my feelings to be able to enter the classroom a human being at 7:00am.  A good breakfast was also necessary.

Whatever your morning routine might be, I hope it enables you to see the sunrise even when it is behind clouds, feel your own body’s energy and breath and find inspiration and gratitude from connection to the living beings in our world.

Thay’s inspiration from yesterday’s reading: “We have to light up that lamp of mindfulness so the light will shine out and the darkness will dissipate and cease.  Our practice is to light up the lamp.”

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