My relationship with early mornings has been interesting to say the least. I never liked waking up early to go to school but that changed when I joined boarding school in 8th grade. We had morning physical training at sharp 6 AM and slowly I got used to it — in reality, my seniors made it much easier for me because the punishment was imminent for being even a minute late.
This was my routine for the next 5 years, there was no option. After a while, I actually started enjoying it. Since I was in Squash and soccer teams, I would get to practice instead of doing the regular physical training which was just a lot of running.
When I graduated, my environment changed. I was home for a year preparing for SAT exams to get into US colleges. Slowly my morning routine changed, my routine was that there was no routine. I would wake up whenever, go to bed whenever. My first semester in college, I picked 8am classes as I was just really excited. But after a while it just became a struggle because most of the time nobody went to bed before 1 or 2 am, we played a lot of ping pong and a lot of just hanging out and chilling.
Discipline isn’t really in the dictionary of college students, especially freshman. By the time I graduated, I woke up just a few mins before my earliest class, whether that was 9, 10 or 11 am. Things changed, now I would pick classes with the latest start time, completely opposite of the early 8am’s I was excited about in the first semester! The compound effect of daily habits. There is a quote I read, “Those who don’t move, don’t notice their chains.” I wasn’t realizing that every single day I lacked the discipline to have a proper morning routine, I was deepening the bad habits that were getting compounded.
A little over 2 years ago, I finally decided to apply the teachings from Swami Ji’s book, “Ancient Science of Mantras”, and take up some Sadhana. It required me waking up early around 5:30 – 6am. Seemed kind of crazy to be waking up early suddenly but to be honest, I had faith that I would be able to do that even though my habits weren’t quite there yet — it was a leap of faith. Looking back, it’s amazing how I woke up early for 6 months straight.
The big lesson for me was that once we are sincere about something and have a strong sense of WHY we do what we do, we find a way. Obstacles are things we see when we are not sincere about something, when we are not committed to something.
A few months ago I did the Walk the Dragon program with Swami Ji. In one of the readings by Cal Newport, the main takeaway was to take time out for “deep work”. And no better time than mornings. It’s something I have been meditating on lately and in the process of building a good morning routine for deep work, for thinking about my WHY, my values, my priorities.
The benefits of early mornings are endless. It’s one habit that positively impacts almost every area of our lives. A few years ago I read a book called “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” where the author Mason Currey shares daily rituals of over 300 great creative artists in human history and the common thing was that all of them woke up early before sunrise.
Self-awareness can get a great boost in early mornings. Wake up early to be Awake 🙂