Today, as many of you begin to return to your ordinary daily routines, we would ask that you cultivate a practice of “waking yourselves up” for brief periods.

What do we mean by this?

We mean that ordinary daily rhythms, while soothing in the sense of structure they provide, can also have a hypnotic or somnolescent effect on the consciousness.  This is why you may notice that you have more vivid memories of time spent vacationing, traveling, or engaging in new experiences, as opposed to humdrum daily life, which tends to blur and be forgotten.

In such a way does “time fly,” even if you feel quite bored as it is happening — watching the clock at work, wasting time on the internet.  You are bored, and yet each Christmas time you ask yourselves “Where did the year go?  How did it pass so quickly?”

It passed quickly because to some degree you were asleep.  Just as the time you spend in bed sleeping and dreaming appears to pass quickly.

So we would ask you today to make a conscious effort to spend a few minutes staying awake.

By awake, we mean “paying attention.”  Paying full attention to where you are, your surroundings, your feelings, your physical body.  Just as you have heightened awareness when you are traveling to a new place on vacation, so too it is possible to have heightened awareness in your daily life.

Here is something you might try:

Set a timer for three minutes.  Three minutes is all that is required.  

Then go stand in front of a window, and look outside, as the timer runs.  During that three minutes, pay attention to what you see outside your window.

It does not have to be an attractive landscape.  You might be looking at a street with buildings and parked cars.  It might be a gray, gloomy day.  It doesn’t matter.  

For three minutes, pay close attention to what you see outside that window.  Notice what’s there.  Notice the minute details.  Leaves on trees.  Details on houses and buildings.  The colors of things.  If a car drives past, pay attention to the car.  If a person walks past, pay attention to the person.  If a bird flies by, pay attention to the bird.

Only three minutes are asked.  Not very much time.  But if you can pay attention to the world outside your window for three minutes, this is a lovely way to “wake up” in your day.  And you will find that the rest of humdrum life becomes just a little more rich, vivid and memorable as you do so.