When you wake in the morning, you may notice a brief period when you’re between sleep and waking, when you’ve left the dreams of the night but haven’t yet entered into the identities and plans of the day. The gap may be extremely small, but if you pay attention you can catch it and prolong it.

This gap has an unknown quality, perhaps a sense of openness and nakedness; it’s a kind of liminal zone where you still don’t know exactly who or what you are. You may feel afraid of this openness and tend to rush back into the known, to check your smartphone or open your computer to remind yourself who you are. Instead, just lie still and be open to the unknown.

Resist the temptation to be someone once again. Allow yourself to be no one; allow your mind to be empty of thought, unfurnished, until the identities gradually filter back in. Notice the space between your identities and the awareness of them. Notice if a similar gap appears at other times during the day, an empty space that you may have ignored before but can now lean into and prolong. Continue to open to the openness.

From Beyond Mindfulness: The Direct Approach to Lasting Peace, Happiness, and Love, by Stephan Bodian. Waterfront Digital Press, 2014. Reprinted with permission of the author.

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