Waking Up Gently to Save the WorldBy:
It’s exciting to see sleep getting some well-deserved publicity lately for the important role it plays in overall life balance, physical, emotional and spiritual. From Fortune 500 CEOs to neuroscientists, major media outlets to bloggers, sources of all kinds are urging us to prioritize sleep as a pathway to success and wellness.
In his absolutely game-changing new book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown speaks about cultivating the “wisdom to sleep”. Yes, the wisdom. I appreciate that concept, especially in the face of so much foolish pressure I’ve seen in activist circles to sacrifice sleep in order to push on and ‘get the job done’. (Incidentally, the wisdom to sleep, along with space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play and discipline to apply highly selective criteria in making choices, are McKeown’s pillars for becoming an essentialist. He says: “By applying a more selective criteria for what is essential, the pursuit of less allows us to regain control of our own choices so we can channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter.”
I’ve realized lately that it’s not just about getting enough sleep, but also about how we move out of sleep and into our day. So I hope you’ll join me in building hype and momentum for an essential and burgeoning movement in favor of waking up gently. I know that by waking up gently we can cultivate more joy, more peace, reduce anxiety, and have more energy to make that essential contribution towards what really matters.
Imagine waking to the sound of birds or laughter slowly increasing in volume. Yes, there’s an app for that. Or waking up after a dream cycle has completed, rather than being jarred awake while in the middle of one. Yep, there’s an app for that too. Or how about waking to the sound of someone softly and playfully singing your name? I experienced this gift from the wake up team at a Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) retreat a number of years back. Rather than walking amongst our cabins banging on pots and pans, they serenaded us with a soothing tune, calling us awake lovingly and by name. Activists at the retreat mentioned the wake up as a highlight of the event, and many said they awoke crying tears of joy!
For the kinesthetically inclined, imagine instead of being shaken awake or having the covers pulled off you, waking each morning to a gentle, loving touch on your arm or forehead. And for those with teenagers who seem nearly impossible to rouse, what might it be like if they woke up to an experience of your compassion and patience, rather than your irritation and resentment?
Long before science confirmed it, many of us knew that getting more sleep was critical for our wellbeing, yet we waited for the experts to confirm it in order to give ourselves permission to rest. It’s time we all experiment with waking up gently and prove to yourselves and the world that this can make a difference in our composure, and in our ability to be in service.
Will you commit to getting enough sleep and waking up gently for the next 10 days? How will you do it? And what transformation and positive change will you channel your newfound energy into? Gentle wakers unite!
Celia Alario is a communications strategist, coach and professor. She cavorts with grassroots change agents, academics and donors who share her love for social justice, planetary healing and culture shaping. She sustains her activism through an alchemic mix of yoga, hula hooping, and practicing the art of nonattachment. Bred by New Yorkers and raised in Los Angeles, she alternatively chases her poodle across the majestic redrock landscapes of Southeastern Utah and the effervescent coastlines of Central California.