I have an internal alarm clock. Each morning I get a sense of alarm that wakes me. This has not only helped me get up in the mornings, it drives my awakening.
There is a story of a Zen master who was presiding over a royal wedding. In the presence of the emperor, he notices that his palm is sweating and he realizes that he has not achieved equanimity. He sees that he still gets sucked into the delusion that an emperor is something different from any other person. Upon realizing this, he returned to his teacher for further instruction.
My alarm clock is not as subtle as a sweaty palm. I may miss something like that. I am lucky that my alarm clock does not include anything so drastic as a panic attack. Those can be terrifying. Pema Chodron, a great teacher and nun in the Shambala tradition, suffers from panic attacks. She is able to welcome them with gracious mindfulness. My alarm clock is somewhere between the Zen Master’s sweaty palms and Pema Chodron’s panic attacks, but any feeling can serve as an alarm.
When my alarm goes off, I have a choice. I can hit snooze and believe the alarming information I am imagining, or I can awaken and remind myself that I am feeling alarm. Although I would like to always choose to wake up, sometimes I am too involved in my dream, so I continue to feel alarmed. Whenever I notice what is happening, I wake up.