I’m developing a bit of a morning routine. Various people I know and read about seem to suggest it is ‘a good thing’. Some people like to write down their dreams, or write 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing (from the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron) on first waking or reach for their strong coffee.
Here’s how mine is shaping up:
If I wake with my alarm clock, I tap Snooze for 10 mins and get out of bed (rolling as best I can with my head leading, my body following and my breath moving me). I open the blind to let daylight in. Then I flow down to the floor for lying down on this firm surface on my back, my head on a small pile of paperbacks (I put there the previous night) and my knees bent, feet pads on the floor and pull the duvet over me.
Here I lie allowing myself to gradually come-to by acknowledging my awakening senses. I am hearing the birds. I allow the brightness of daylight in through my open eyelids. I am aware of my back unkinking against the floor. I can feel the relative coolness of the floor below me, and the warmth of the duvet above. I notice the faint smell of laundry liquid on my duvet. I allow the touch of my clothes to inform me of where I begin and end. I become aware of the weight of my body resting on the floor, the weight of my hands on my abdomen, the weight of my legs through my pelvis and feet pads. I begin to move my attention from place to place and take in the general lie of the whole of me, saying hello to the various parts I can name.
“Hello feet, hello legs, hello pelvis, hello spine, hello head, hello jaw, hello ribs, hello collar bones – shoulder blades and arms. Hello breath. Hello me.”
I start to include a sense of how various parts of me relate to my neighbouring parts. Ahh ribs connect to spine. Spine connects head to pelvis. Pelvis is connected to the legs. Arms connect to the breast bone.
Then I might invite myself to notice any ease I feel anywhere. “I am noticing ease in my hands. I am noticing ease in my belly. I am noticing ease in my breath”. etc Turning my attention to the goodies that are here. Not forcing myself to be anything other than how I am, more like choosing to notice what is currently going well.
10 minute snooze goes off about now and I start moving. I start to look from side to side, allowing my gaze to have a continuous line of sensory information coming in through my eyes into my brain. I am consciously cultivating the smoothness of this line of attention, usually for me starting on the ceiling and looking across to one top corner of a wall, down the wall past the furniture to the skirting board and to the carpet nearer and nearer to me. Then I retrace my gaze. Carpet, skirting board, furniture, wall, ceiling – smooth as I can (noticing if I skip or the line is jagged or blurry) and continuing in the other direction til I see the carpet close to me on the other side. By now the duvet is loosening and I let an arm join in.
Using my fingertips I put the opposite hand across my body to join the carpet where I am looking and gently let my fingertips move further away from my body, I watch them lazily and allow the growing colours, shapes and edges to make their impressions in my brain. My body starts to roll and push against the floor, the duvet falls away. I draw my fingers towards my breastbone, and let the arm unfurl along the carpet, bringing my other hand up to start where we left off. Fingertips to breastbone along the opposite collarbone and down the upper arm, forearm and hands. Again my body follows and flows off the floor, more onto one side.
I repeat this a few times until these spiralling movements are going more and more smoothly, using less effort each time, aiming to let my gaze continue uninterrupted.
10 minute snooze and I let the next roll onto one side carry me slightly away from the floor, starting to come onto all fours. Letting my eyes lead the movement I look around and explore everything I can see of myself, left shoulder area, left flank, left pelvis, left foot – looking between my feet and up along the floor underneath me and onwards in front of me up the wall and whatever bit of ceiling I can easily see. My body arches to accommodate my interest. I’m not interested in stretching or trying to get anywhere in particular. Its a very gentle movement exploration and discovery. Can I keep my jaw soft, allow my breath to move me freely and look around the right side of my body? Moving quite slowly, my eyes exploring the environment and my body in a fluid way, enjoying my spine waking up, writhing, undulating and coming awake. Energised with this lovely attention.
Sometimes this becomes more energetic and I move onto hands and feet and wake up my arms and legs seeing – where do they want to be?
When I’ve had enough or the alarm goes again, I usually turn it off and come into standing. Stopping for a moment to integrate the movement and decide whats next. My toilette or a glass of fresh lemon squeezed into half/half cold and hot water?
Of course, there are variations on this depending on all sorts. If my son wakes me up or has climbed into bed with me in the night, the best I can manage is to challenge myself to roll well in a more confined space and greet him with a smile. He wakes up and is ready to go 100 miles per hour, within one second and starts talking about his latest creative project, some maths sums or how surprised he is that not everyone knew in reception that real stars are not actually star-shaped! Sometimes there is a gap between my ideal start to the day and my actual start to the day.
I hear that some people can train themselves to notice if they wake up on an in-breath or an out-breath! Perhaps I’ll set that as intention sometime.
I’m enjoying the lying-on-the-floor-straight-from-bed aspect very much. It has surprised me how much I can get into a kink whilst sleeping. Various theories arise as to Why. And for now, I’m just glad I know about lying on the floor to allow me to reorganise. I begin to spread out in all directions and return to a longer, wider, deeper more evenly toned version than when I first lay down.
Lucy Ascham is an Alexander Technique teacher who aims to greet the day and start by getting out on the right side of the bed each day in a conscious way.
When I was training to be an AT Teacher at Fellside Cumbria Alexander Training school 2000-2003, Joan Diamond used to lead a session each Monday afternoon. Part of it would include some lying on the floor going into free movement. “Where do you want to go next?” “Where does your head want to go now?” in a gentle, almost hypnotic, rhythmic way as she intoned the following – “Arms away from torso and torso away from arms. Head away from pelvis and pelvis away from head.” This is the soundtrack playing in my head as I move freely, experimenting in following my body’s wisdom.
I think the idea about noticing ease comes from Mio Morales in the USA.