It’s been six and a half weeks since my daughter was born. This morning, for the first time, I managed to wake myself at 6 a.m. to sit for 30 minutes before she and her mother woke up.
As good as I’ve been about taking this new experience of parenthood one breath at a time, I am starting to feel the fault lines in my mental state. The spaces between perceptions and reactions are narrowing. I’m noticing more often that I’m in the middle of a sentence already. My number of apologies per day has definitely increased in the past week or so.
Some of this can be written off to exhaustion, but that’s still not an excuse. Reactivity and lack of mindfulness with my newly expanded family is not acceptable. It’s my responsibility to remember I have a practice to work on those things. I have to consider the correlation between the decline in my practice and my decline in mindfulness.
This morning’s sit reminded me how much the practice is about making space. This is why it isn’t counterintuitive that we sit doing nothing to practice right action in the world.
Right action requires sensing the open space of the moment, deciding to step into that space, and then doing so freely. Sitting still for many minutes between actions is an expanded, scaled up version of that same free decision, letting us see it in exquisite detail and understand what it takes.
Right action requires a good night’s sleep, too — don’t get me wrong — but this is worth waking up for. Making space before a day of actions is an integral part of making space before each action.