The Tao of a Morning Mind

“It’s OK to make mistakes, to feel tired of everything, to not have things figured out. It’s not OK to give up. Keep going, even if it’s a slower pace, You got this.” – Karen Salmonsohn

Late one night in the hills of southern California, I sat in this sweltering hall, and listened to a monk talking about her “morning voices” and how the simple act of starting to write down or record those morning thoughts changed her life. It sang to me, I really understood what she was pointing towards.

This morning brought me these charming musings, “I can’t do this, I don’t wanna do this, I’m tired of everything, I can’t do this anymore, and the proverbial, “why is this, this?” (I think “this” means living life.) These are not statements that I dive into, they are simply brief thoughts that flow through along with all the other seemingly random streaming thoughts. But the impact of the statements takes a toll emotionally, experience will lean towards the bitter if I accept these thoughts as my reality, or how I am. Particularly as the day unfolds, plans are made or undone, I do or not do, and I interact or isolate. Early morning negative ideation sucks the life out before it can breath, or at least have coffee and wake up to itself.

Sometime when I tell people I record or write this stuff down they look at me like I’m crazy, (a familiar experience) and wonder why I bother with such negative recordings.

It’s because after I record or write them down I look at them and ask, “Who the fuck would say that kind of shit to me in the mornings?” If I woke up next to someone and they started to convince me that I’m helpless and stupid I don’t think it would end well, for them. Yet, for some strange reason, “I” do it to myself. How could this possibly be helpful? And it’s painful, the self-absorption is the suffering.

Even the simple act of asking that question breaks that spell. It breaks up the voices of the conditioned separate self telling lies and stories, all designed to make the conditioned separate self the center of the universe. Poor me!

My friend, the Catholic/Soto Zen Nun, got creative, and started leaving notes to herself on her bathroom mirror, the fridge, by the television, stove, car, and yes, above her bed, so when she wakes up in the morning there are other messages that reinforce her humanity, intentions, and abilities.

Now some folks think that’s over the top. Putting notes all over the place, but the next time I saw my friend she reports that mornings have changed, the negative unsupportive voices still rise, but now fade, because she has offered a balancing, a yin to the yang. How absolutely Tao/Zen of her. (She also prayed on it, and feels the notes were part of her answer!)

“Willingness is the Key.” It’s the first step before the first step, I need to be willing. I can have great intent, but do I have willingness? Will I embrace this process? Am I willing to diminish my suffering, particularly the suffering I inject into my own life? There is a phrase, “If I am suffering, it’s because I’m choosing something over ending suffering.” How powerful. Putting up notes to rebalance is not over the top.

It’s brilliant.

Bryan Wagner

(If you find this helpful, please share or consider reposting.❤️)

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