The Early Morning wake-up
The virtues of getting up early have nothing to do with cramming more hours of busy-ness and industry into one’s day. Just the opposite.
These virtues stem from the stillness and solitude of the hours, and the potential to use that time to expand consciousness, to contemplate, to make time for being for purposefully not doing anything. The peacefulness, the darkness, the dawn, the stillness – all contribute to making early morning a special time for mindfulness practice.
Waking early has the added value of giving you a very real head start on the day. If you can begin your day with a firm foundation in mindfulness and inner peacefulness, then when you do have to get going and start doing, it is much more likely that the doing will flow out of your being. You are more likely to carry a robust mindfulness, an inner calmness and balance of mind with you throughout the day than had you just jumped out of bed and started in on the call of demands and responsibilities, however pressing and important. The power of waking up early in the morning is so great that it can have a profound effect on your life, even without formal mindfulness practice.
Just witnessing the dawn each day is a wake-up call in itself.
Early morning is a wondrous time for formal meditation. Generally no one else is up. The world’s “rush” has not launched itself yet. It may be good for you to get out of bed and devote about an hour to being, without doing anything. You may find that on occasion it may be difficult to wake up with either your mind or your body resisting. But part of the value is in doing it anyway, even if you don’t feel like it. The practice calls us to a higher standard – that of remembering the importance of wakefulness and the ease with which we can slip- into a pattern of automatic living which lacks awareness and sensitivity. Just waking up early to practice non-doing is itself a tempering process. It generates enough heat to rearrange our atoms, gives us a new and stronger crystal lattice of mind and body, a lattice that keeps us honest and reminds us that there is far more to life than getting things done. Discipline provides a constancy which is independent of what kind of a day you had yesterday and what kind of a day you anticipate today.
You should try to make time for formal practice, if just for a few minutes, especially on days when momentous events happen, happy or distressing, when your mind and the circumstances are in turmoil, when there is a lot to be done and feelings are running strong.