Mama, Wake Up!

It’s up to us. We can spend our lives cultivating our resentments and cravings or we can explore the path of the warrior – nurturing open-mindedness and courage. Most of us keep strengthening our negative habits and therefore sow the seeds of our own suffering. The bodhichitta practices, however, are ways for us to sow the seeds of well-being. Particularly powerful are the aspiration practices of the four limitless qualities: loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity …

We start where we are, where the aspirations feel genuine.

Pema Chodron, from The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times


One of the primary texts of the Kabbalah, the Zohar, cries out to humankind, saying, “You beings on earth who are in deep slumber, awaken! Who among you has labored to turn darkness into light and bitterness into sweetness?” It pleads with us, “Stop sleeping! Wake up! What are you waiting for?”
Rabbi David A. Cooper, from God Is A Verb

To cultivate our resentments and cravings is to be asleep, checked out, to move through the day unconsciously, to feed the illusion that this will protect us from pain.

To wake up is to open the heart. To sit with the craving. To experience it. To listen to what it is here to communicate. As my friend Susa says, to become an expert in craving, in restlessness, in watching it pass instead of being enslaved and asleep at the wheel.

To wake up is a brave and heroic act, requiring not stuntwork but a willingness to stay, to stay still, to take a breath before the unkind words come pouring out, to pause before raising your hand in anger.

To wake up is to taste the bitterness and to taste the sweetness. Not to change it, not to fix it, not to transform it. Simply to say yes, this is bitter. Yes, this is fear. This is what fear feels like in my throat. This is how my chest tightens and tenses. Yes, this is how I want to hide. Yes, this is how I want to lash out.

To wake up is to say oh, how sweet this is, this ripe plum. How amazing to breathe in the back of this child’s head as she leans up against my face. How beautiful, those brooding rain clouds, so many dimensions of gray and green.

To wake up is to open my eyes and see how I sow the seeds of my own suffering when I sleepwalk through my days. How I feed the resentments, the fears, the edge, the impatience.

To wake up is to love myself, not because of this, not despite it, but because that is the beginning of loving the babies, and the light, and the struggle, and the surrender.

To wake up might mean slowing down or it might mean sprinting that last tenth of a mile, flying, heart open to the path ahead.


And my very own little Pearl says it straight: Mama, WAKE UP! Mama, NO SLEEPING!

(What are we waiting for? We start where we are, where the aspirations feel genuine.)

Mt. Hunger photo by Miv London

6 thoughts on “Mama, Wake Up!

  1. Rowena says:

    Holy cow, Jena! Bulls. Eye. Baby.

    I am going to have to book mark this post and come back to it again and again.

    I recently realized I should just sit with my sadness, instead of trying to avoid it or cover it. But I wonder what I should do with it when I sat with it, aside from feel it. I knew there was more. Listen to what it is here to communicate. Watch it pass. Perhaps not be enslaved by RUNNING from it.

    I see how I am working on all you say in my path, and then I realize how much more there is to learn. Wow. This is good stuff.

    I’m wondering why I had to figure so much of this on my own and where you, and all your references were when I was struggling. Hmm. Maybe I needed to figure it out for myself.


  2. nikole says:

    Wow. These are exactly the words I needed to read as I look into the dark corners of my soul. Thank you for your wisdom, for your words.


  3. Bruno LoGreco says:

    How perfect are those words!

    To wake up with self and believe in self. Not to judge how self looks, or to compare self with another. To accept and believe in self for who self is, to accept self as a unique individual. I love self… me.

    Excellent post.


  4. Lil says:

    i spent a year bedding anger. it became more intimate to me than my partner. then a friend who used to also sleep with anger gave me a new companion ~ realization. so for the last 6mths, i’ve been realizing when i brew, and then i realize i have a choice. but my brain has created these deep synaptic nerve patterns for the anger to flow back and forth through (who knew the brain could do that?!) and so i’ve been short circuting them whenever i notice. i can see the path is now becoming overgrown with peaceful vines instead…and it feel freaking wonderful to be free. i still trip though, so words like these are powerful reminders, thank you jena.



  5. Shelli says:

    “To wake up is to say oh, how sweet this is, this ripe plum.”

    I love that. Reminds me of Mary Oliver.

    I love the whole post.


  6. SisterJulia says:

    This is exactly how my negative self talk hit me this morning! After the fourth or fifth time of calling myself a “Dozy Mare!”, and slightly worse versions thereof, every time I made an admittedly ‘dozy’ mistake it suddenly dawned on me to use “Wake up Julia!” instead
    “Wake up Julia! (you’re not present)”
    “Wake up Julia! (your missing it)”
    “Wake up Julia! (don’t think that Love away)”
    I’ve felt brighter and brighter all day!



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