A Gentle Greeting

Often, the unspoken tongue of beauty is gentleness. It is the gentle waters that smooth & striate cold rocks. It is the gentle grasp which nudges an infant into his first strides. It is the gentle kiss on a wound that heals & blooms a smile on her face. It is the gentle breeze that lends ear to the music of wind-chimes.

Even the night is best greeted with gentle sleep rather than boisterous activity & either end of this tender journey also beg a gentleness often lost to alarm clocks & last-minute email messages or television.

I believe the body is gentle in how it moves us from day into night & back. In watching the body gently sink into sleep & trust, & wake up to the soft caress of sunlight & chirping birds, I have come to adopt a resolve to ease one awake & be the kindest, gentlest soul in putting them to sleep. I practiced this on many animals (dogs, children, cats, birds) before generalising it for adults as well. I even invented an alarm clock that goes through an elaborate process of gently waking up its human friend. It involved aromas & soft voices gently preparing (over a 45 min period) the mind for waking up to a fresh & energised morning.

Here I share with the reader my resolve & approach to gently holding one’s sleep in both hands (one holding the night & the other holding the morning). I believe this is a generous gift to give one you love.

The new day is a gift. It has so much as possibilities to offer. It might also be a reminder that the pain that one experiences, continues (or must it?). Either way, it is fresh, unstained & eagerly ready to become yours. Give that gift to him by removing all unpleasantness from his view. May the 1st things he sees be the ones that will bring him a smile. If it is you he will see then wear a smile. If she likes your unkempt hair, then leave it so. If she likes it combed, comb it. If he likes you in his tee, stay in it.

But before she opens her eyes, she will hear you & feel you. Bring her words for her soul. His soul knows honesty. Bring him honest words that you want to water her soul with. Bring her words that fill his being with vitality (but gently). Bring him the assurance that he is loved. Bring her the assurance that she is valued. Speak to her blood, to her chest of memories & her past lives. Speak to his inhale, to his forgotten voices & his unnamed journeys. It is in these that he will find warmth through his day. It is in these that she will find safety in her stride. Speak from your heart as it is a new day for you, too.

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Touch him as if he is a sacred altar, a home for your prayer. Touch her as if she seeks in it a reason to not vanish. Do not hesitate. Do not bring your fears to that touch. Bring the healing waters of the universe in that gentle caress. It is in this touch he will stir & begin receiving the day. Perhaps patting or shaking or prodding aren’t the best ways to be gentle. Touch & hold without quivering. Keep one arm free as she might start & you will need to calm her swiftly, yet gently.

But before your words & touch, there are other facets to being gentle which are mostly about not startling the person asleep. Oil the hinges on the doors. Do not try to move plastic bags hastily (they have crashing cacophony about them). Let every step be sure with a caring eye on the sleeping form. Walk along the extremes of the stairs (creak the least). Take deep breaths & hold them for a couple of steps. Exhale gently. Door handles/knobs must be released as slowly as turned (the spring might creak). Take time to adjust to the light (lack) in the room.

When the person stirs & can recognise her name, greet her gently in a soft voice. Let him know that the day will be good. No one will hold it against you. Let her know how happy you are to have her in your day. If you need to remind him about one important thing in his day’s agenda, do it briefly & leave the room — softly. This gives her time to adjust herself into the day & let all the subconscious goodwill you sprinkled on her fill her smile & spirit.

When he needs to go to bed, convince him that he should get off electronics at least an hour or two before he actually sleeps. No email is so important that it can’t wait till tomorrow, and if it is, then why wasn’t it done before dinner? A light dinner is good for her. Contrary to popular myths, you don’t need much from a dinner. You aren’t going to be burning much in climbing a mountain in your dreams. Avoid foods that need a lot of time to digest. Once she has shut all her electronics, find simple means to lower alertness. Soft music, a book of poems, watching the stars, talking about passing thoughts & a few others are some ways to slowly ready the mind for being less alert to the waking world. Some find stilling the physicality of body & mind (aka meditation) helpful.

All of these can be done individually, though, as a gift, they gain a different meaning when done together. If you both are romantic partners (which wasn’t assumed anywhere so far except maybe when the tee was mentioned), then make love without having to raise alertness. Make love like it is the last time you will. Make love as if you are taking your partner on that promised journey. If you aren’t romantic partners, just sit holding each other or giving the other a gentle head massage or back-rub. Dim the lights. I often turn off all lights & converse in the lights from the outside world. A candle (aromatic?) might help. Don’t forget to snuff it out properly. Please place all electronics in silent mode unless you are answerable to someone’s safety & well-being.

I follow a modification of Yoga Nidra to initiate the other into sleep. Gently, in a soft voice I walk him through relaxing his body. The visual is of every muscle & bones moving earthward. Gently, I bring her attention to her forehead & hum as she holds it there. I then move it to his hair, his eyes, gently pressing them with my hum. As we move down the length of the body, we dwell on the chin, breast, sternum, navel, mound of Venus, scrotum, thighs, knees, shin & finally on each and every toe (on either side). With this awareness, she breathes evenly. In this slowed attention, he dissolves into sleep. Pray that this sleep brings her calm. Pray that this sleep brings him nourishment.

If one were to wake up in the middle of the night, do not turn to electronics. Their light & sound shock the brain. They also disturb those around you.

If your partner is your romantic lover, there are myriad gentle ways to take them into sleep or waking. I shan’t go into them as love is a better guide.

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