Published By Elephant Journal
“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing. There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.”–Annie Dillard
If I had to choose one practice that was the catalyst for my transformation then it’s rising early at 5:30 a.m every day for the past five years. This single commitment has changed me from a grumpy, frustrated person who was always in a rush to get things done without much enjoyment to a much calmer person who has found more meaning and purpose in his life.
It was rising early that propelled me to add many other productive habits to my morning. It was rising early that kept me constant and consistent with the rituals that I needed to re-wire my brain.And it was rising early that gave me the thrust I needed to go further towards the path of my authenticity.
There is something special, almost magical when we wake up a few minutes before the sun comes out.It’s like we watch its birth and look at it in grateful awe.We feel it’s might, and it somehow reminds us of life’s beauty and the infinite possibilities we have to connect to its power.
There are three big areas in my life that rising early has helped me tremendously:
1. Inner peace
I learnt that to have peace throughout the day; I needed to start with solitude and connection to my soul. I needed to ignore the noise that constantly surrounds me and listen to the songs and lullabies that my soul whispers in my ears.
There is no better time to do so just before the sun would come out. The birds start chirping away, and the trees outside stand tall and ready for their day. And there is always a hint of freshness in the atmosphere.It’s like life is ready to dazzle me, and that gives me a feeling of inner peace and freedom that I find hard to put into words.
As I become more consistent with my morning rituals, and without many distractions I found myself in that state of “Flow.”I connect with my soul and find that my creative juices are flowing, and my muse is always close by to help me create.
During this time, there are no questions to be answered ,no emails to respond to and no decisions to be made. I can easily focus on one thing and it’s usually my writing.
There are many examples of great people who rise early and allow this energy in the morning to help them create, such as Steve Jobs, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Richard Branson.
What we do in the morning will set us up for the rest of our day.And when we remain consistent with getting up early and follow our daily rituals ,then we find ourselves with so much energy within us that we can achieve much more during the day.
I very often find that by afternoon ,I’ve done most of the big tasks I was meant to do and as such the rest of the day becomes a breeze. And that’s in stark contrast to the other days where I achieve much less when my mornings don’t go to plan.
How to wake up early?
- You need to sleep earlier as any attempt in cutting down the amount of hours you need to sleep(7-8 hours) will result in you waking up more stressed and any benefit gained by waking up early will be duly lost.
- Reduce the time you want to wake up gradually so that you don’t end up giving up the practice completely. For example, set your alarm earlier by 15 minutes every three days and so you will be up earlier by 30 minutes within a week and 2 hours within a month.
- Increase your exercise activity during this period when trying to wake up earlier so that you can sleep easier at night.
- As soon as the alarm goes off, jump out of bed and don’t allow your lazy mind to lull you into staying in bed.
- Prepare one thing that excites you to do in the morning, such as a Yoga move that stretches your back or reading from a book you enjoy.
My Morning Rituals(In the order I practice them)
- Drinking water: I Drink a full glass of water so that I’m immediately energized and my body starts to function.
- Meditation: I meditate for 20 minutes, and even though I struggle for the first 15 minutes, I find that the last five minutes makes up for the initial struggle. Meditation not only instills this inner peace in me but clears my mind so that I’m ready for the day ahead. It also acts as a reminder of the discipline of mastering my mind throughout my life.
- Journaling: I journal for about 15 minutes where I bring out all my fears and insecurities in detail. The mere fact that I’m aware acts like a catharsis and I feel better immediately.
- Reading: I read for 30 minutes and find that it soothes my being and in the morning I’m more receptive to the different ideas and worlds that reading conjures up.
- Gratitude: I write out 3 things I’m grateful for and that just reminds me to focus on the things that are working in my life. Usually this could be for something small like the cheesecake I had yesterday, or achieving a goal I’ve been aiming towards for a while.
- Big To-Do’s: I write out in bold ink the 3 things that I want to achieve today.
- Exercise: I exercise whether it’s a run or a cross fit session in the outdoors depending on where I’m at with injuries, running races or I’m out of the country. The main thing is to move for about 45 minutes in the morning.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”-Brené Brown
I’m not saying that the only way to be peaceful and productive is to rise early but it worked very well for me, and this is coming from someone who used to claim he was not a morning person.
There are many days that I can’t get up early as an enforced late night or a bad night’s sleep will hinder my discipline.However, I find that if I stick to this regimen of early rise and practicing my rituals for about 80 percent of the time then I’m fine.