I woke early. Very early. “Too” early. I woke in pain, although it’s “just” my arthritis; however much pain I am in, I’m reluctant to make a big deal about it (or generally, even to mention it aloud), because it is such a constant presence in my autumn-winter experience. Life isn’t easily enjoyed as a test of endurance…at least…I don’t find it so, myself. I woke, and went from waking to moving gently through a yoga sequence that improves my flexibility and reduces my pain somewhat. My consciousness settled early on a moment of ire from the day before; it takes an effort of will to disengage to and move on thoughts of things that have positive value for me. Note that I didn’t say the troubling moment was unimportant or insignificant. Deceit, inconsiderate treatment, risky behavior, and disregarding explicit boundaries set and agreed to in shared conversation are all things that I find ‘significant’ – in a negative way – and ‘important’ inasmuch as disregarding those sorts of things generally has later consequences; I’m not interested in investing my emotional bandwidth or precious mortal time on a quiet morning in deep contemplation of circumstances or experiences that were hurtful, or negatively affected me. It’s not necessary. I know my values. I know my feelings on the circumstances that irk me (see? said it right there – I’m ‘irked’. lol). I don’t need to know more at present. I may consider the matter more at some other time, but for now… I won’t.

I also won’t dwell on the pain I’m in, although I’ve learned that attempting to truly ‘ignore it’ tends to push it to the forefront of my consciousness, where compassionate awareness, and taking care of me in a considerate and kind way tends to allow it to reduce more or less into the tolerable background of everyday life. That’s a vast improvement over fretting and obsessing on it, until I am near tears from being unable to escape it. We create a lot of our experience through choices and small acts of will we are not mindful of. I’ve been studying, and I have yet to find any support to the idea that the entirety of our experience is external and visited upon us. It just isn’t so; a great deal of what I used to understand as being ‘on the outside’ turns out to be, in a clearly demonstrable and simple way, quite entirely on the inside. We create who we are through our thoughts and action – our choices determine so much of who we are, sure, but beyond that – our choices also create the very world we live in. Sometimes it is as simple and obvious as legislation…sometimes it is insidious, a byproduct of disordered thinking, poor decision-making, and projecting our own internal narrative on our understanding of the world, in lieu of awareness and observation. I make a point of double-checking – reality checking, really – my view of the world around me in moments escalating toward stress, panic, rage, or sorrow. I’m stunned how often my view of things is really just my view of things, and nothing more.  I’ve learned that changing my view is often simply a matter of looking at something else – and not just metaphorically speaking, often quite literally a matter of pointing my eye holes at some other object, another horizon, a different perspective, and observing that changed view, mindfully, aware, and open to observing, only. It’s quite a lovely bit of soulful ‘magic’ that has turned around my mood more than once. (All those sky photographs? Not a coincidence; that’s me, taking ‘things are looking up’ quite literally.)

Exploring the words with actions; things are looking up.

Exploring the words with actions; things are looking up.

So. Awake early. In pain. Hot coffee. The usual, right? Less so than some mornings, actually, but I am exerting my will – and my won’t (lol) to move in a positive direction as much as possible. I can’t emphasize enough how important my physical experience can be for managing my mood; when I hurt, and don’t find a way to alleviate that pain, I am quickly at risk of being in a pretty sour mood, and prone to anger and irritability. That even makes sense; pain hurts. I have less difficulty with all the other bits of my experience if I take steps to manage my pain effectively. I am learning not to take on emotional matters, or potentially confrontational conversations, when I am in pain. It’s not fair to me, to the other people involved, or to the achievement of a desired outcome to filter everything through an experience of pain; it colors my experience in a pretty profoundly negative way.

Perspective matters.

Perspective matters.

Back to the positive pieces of morning, then? Sure. 🙂 It’s Friday, and the morning holds the promise of every new day; the potential is as yet unlimited, and the opportunities are many. There are choices to be made for later, the weekend to consider (according to my calendar I lost my mind and didn’t plan anything at all – so unlike me), the evenings, the mornings, the days… there’s an exhibit at the art museum I’d like to see, and I haven’t been to the big farmer’s market downtown in a while. There’s laundry to do; weekends are all about the laundry. lol I find myself smiling, and the pain isn’t so bad this morning…the familiar nausea of morning medications, and the sweating and trembling of an unexpected hot flash don’t seem worth more than a moment of awareness and then moving on. Other levels of cognition slowly come online as I become more awake, and in the background I find I am quietly listing things I intend to get done today or in the upcoming imminent future, checking off things I’ve already done with some satisfaction; I nearly always add things to lists that are relevant but also already completed, because I enjoy the momentary sense of accomplishment, and the reminder of how much I do get done. 🙂 It’s a very positively reinforcing practice. That’s one of the coolest things about adulthood, too; I get to make my own rules about most things in my experience. I choose my behavior. I choose what I like and what I enjoy. I choose what I will not stand for. I choose what matters to me. I choose what I will… and what I won’t. It’s a bit deceptive, as human beings, to go around on the assumption that legislation actually regulates behavior – it doesn’t; our choices do. We even choose whether to comply with laws, traditions, cultural norms. All choices. We choose consideration or callousness. We choose kindness or cruelty. We choose openness, or we choose otherwise. We choose what to focus on first thing in the morning. 🙂

Mindful awareness, and observing without judgement, reveals so much.

Mindful awareness, and observing without judgement, reveals so much.

When was the last time you paused for a moment to consider how amazing it is that you even exist at all? Today is a good day for that. Perhaps it’s been awhile since you have been treated with real kindness? There are a lot of people feeling that way, I bet. Today is a good day to be kind, too. Today is also a good day to respect people’s boundaries, to be considerate of the needs of others, and to set clear expectations explicitly; even if they are not honored by others, I find I do myself a significant service to respect my own boundaries enough to state them clearly. It’s a lovely morning to pause and observe the sunrise; we are mortal, and will see a finite number of sunrises in our human lifetime. Today is a good day to be mindfully aware of each small pleasant detail, and to linger over pleasant sensations and ideas. Today is a good day to breath deeply the fresh autumn air [geographical location probably matters a great deal on that one!]. Today is a good day to remember that however irksome the behavior of others, they too are human, and having their own experience; we each have a choice in whether we participate in a shared experience, or walk on. Today is a good day to switch things up a bit, to be daring and adventurous, to be willing to trust myself, and recognize that I know me, better than anyone else can. Today is a good day to change the world.