Practice: Times of Day

Practice: Times of Day March 2, 2013

beach at sunset
Photo by Moyan Brenn

Both traditions I am trained in have a way of acknowledging various points of the day: the beginning and the end, and also midday and dusk.  The practice of bookending my day with a moment of connection is one that feels uncomplicatedly lovely to me.  While these times could benefit from twenty or thirty minutes of practice, they also benefit from one or two minutes of acknowledgement.

The midday and dusk times, on the other hand, often come while I’m in the middle of something else, and so pulling away, even for a minute, can feel hard.  When I do, sometimes I rush through, but when I am able to pause for long enough to feel connection in my belly, they inevitably help me realign my day with what’s truly important to me.

One simple way to engage this practice is just to look for something to say thank you for at each time.  I don’t believe that forced gratitude is good for us, so I’d suggest staying away from the things you think you ought to be grateful for and instead acknowledging things you are able to appreciate in the moment you’re practicing.  Tiny things are good choices: these soft sheets, this steaming cup of coffee.  Big things are another one that’s often easy to connect to: gratitude for being alive, for friends or family, for shelter, warmth, and food.

I find the phrase “thank you” especially evocative and so prefer it to “I am grateful for,” although you may feel differently!  If you have a devotional practice or set of beliefs about who you might be thanking, you can address your gratitude more specifically, but I also find that it works well to just say “thank you” without any specific idea about who you are thanking.

I’ve also used taking three deep breaths at each of these points as a very brief way to take a pause and acknowledge the cycle of the sun in the sky, and I’ve used specific prayers — ones that come from traditional sources and also ones I’ve written — at other times.

Do you acknowledge daily cycles?  I’d love to hear about your practices!

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