THE SPACE BEFORE WAKING
Question: “Could you tell me more about that space when waking up that we talked about in the Open Door last weekend?”
As for the ‘space’ before waking...When you go to sleep you are entering into a significant let-go in which the grip on everything that you have accumulated around yourself is wonderfully and naturally loosened. In this way what you no longer need can depart, what is still useful can rest, relax and rejuvenate to remain close by and what you now need can begin to make its way to you.
With all the changes that take place during sleep you literally do not know who you are when you wake up. The person who went to sleep is not the person who is waking up. Not a complete stranger, probably, but not totally familiar either. Instead of investigating the person who is waking up we generally recall our memory of the person who fell asleep and take that as our self. How crazy is that? To really know who is waking up we would have to let ourselves be and notice who we are now...now that we have slept some, now that we have dreamed what we dreamed (note this is not the same thing as recalling our dreams), now that we are feeling the light on our face, not the darkness, now that we are embarking on a new day, not letting go of a completed one. This is the deep rejuvenating nature of sleep. It is not simply a time for our bodies and day-time minds to rest. It is a very active and transformative time.
So, if you are interested in an opportunity to re-orient yourself in the present a great way to do it is to become aware of the moment when you are first waking up, the last moment when you haven’t been tracking yourself in the usual way and you don’t know who you are. Of course, these moments are occurring all the time, but it is relatively easy to catch a glimpse of yourself during this significant transition that happens every single day. The same kind of gap occurs at night when you fall asleep and it is possible to become aware of that ‘moment’ as well.
When you are waking up, do your best to simply notice yourself right then rather than orienting yourself to your memory of yourself. You might want to notice, over the course of the day, that you have this habit of identifying yourself with a memory of your self. For example, say you had the thought, “I just did something really mean” then you likely begin to treat yourself as if you are mean, and get busy feeling bad and guilty. But the one who was mean has already been replaced by the one who is aware of the meanness and, one who is aware of a meanness responds differently than one who is mean. If you watch yourself you will begin to notice that, your awareness is before you are usually aware of it, if that makes any sense. When you notice this habit you are well on your way to becoming aware of yourself being aware rather than remembering some relic from the past.
In otherwords, you will become aware of a gap/instant/flash where you are and then there is the moment when you notice yourself exactly as you are and then there is a moment when you describe yourself to yourself. Most of the time when people wake up the first thing they are aware of is describing themselves to themselves, “Oh, I’m so tired, I feel good today, I am stiff, I didn’t get a good sleep and in this process they are immediately identifying themselves with their bodies and their minds and missing their real identity entirely. In other words, most people mistake their description of themselves for themselves.
So on waking, try out the practise of asking yourself, right away, “Who Am I?” and don’t fill in the blank. Just wait and notice what arises. The waiting is important because it is in the waiting that you can become aware of the following gaps:
the gap before you are
the gap between you arising and you noticing yourself
the gap between you noticing yourself and you describing yourself to yourself.
So don’t panic if you have the thought, “Nothing is arising.” Rather, get to know No Thing intimately by investigating it as openly and with as much curiosity and wonder as possible.
OK, I could go on and on but I am going to stop here because this could well be way more information that you were looking for already. Let me know if this is helpful and, if you have any other questions, just ask. Otherwise, run the experiment for yourself over several mornings and be patient. Commit to doing this every morning for say 30 days and see what happens. Set your intention as you fall asleep at night and have faith that you will make progress if you persist. Seek and ye shall find, Knock and the door shall be open, Ask and it shall be granted. This is true. At first it’s like catching a glimpse of a shooting star, or trying to recognize a particular drop of water in the ocean, but if you persist the sightings of your real self become more frequent and lasting.
What to Remember When Waking
In that first, hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other, more secret, moveable
and frighteningly honest world in which everything began,
there is a small opening into the day which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you live, wholeheartedly, will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To become human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world is to live your true inheritance.
'"We should ask ourselves in our most profound intimacy: What is there before the thought appears? What is there when the thought disappears? What is there before the body goes to sleep and before it wakes up? When we observe closely, we will find not the absence we took for granted, but a presence, a presence that cannot, however be objectified. It is too near, it is our nearest."