By Vidagdha Madhav Das
O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode become conditioned by a sense of happiness and knowledge. The result of the endeavor in that mode is like poison in the beginning but nectar in the end. (Bhagavad Gita 14.6, 18.37)
Successful people have something in common in their routine – getting up early. They strongly claim that being a morning person is an important habit to stay ahead in the competition. In fact, Bhagavad Gita recommends that one should wake up at-least an hour before the sun rise for a happy and healthy life because the morning hours are said to be in the sattva-guna, the mode of goodness.
What is a guna? The Bhagavad Gita talks at length about the concept of the gunas – the three modes of material nature. The Sanskrit term guna means rope. The Gita explains how these invisible ropes are constantly pulling us to act in various ways, just like a puppeteer makes a puppet dance, even against our better judgment. These are subtle forces pervading this creation and they influence every aspect of our physical, mental, and emotional world.
The effects of sattva-guna, the mode of goodness, are seen when an atmosphere of peace, serenity, and harmony prevails both within our minds and in our environment. Rajo-guna, the mode of passion, is felt as insatiable greed for temporary things and perpetual dissatisfaction that pushes one to strive for more and more material acquisitions and sensual pleasures. Tamo-guna, the mode of ignorance, is indicated when there’s laziness, depression, intoxication, and insanity.
Bhagavad Gita (18.37), therefore, recommends that a lifestyle in the sattva-guna is a sure-shot way to a happier and healthier life. The first step to such a lifestyle is becoming a ‘morning person’. It may sound difficult, especially if we are attached to late nights. But once we start reaping the innumerable advantages of being an early bird, we can relish the nectar of the endeavor. Here are a few rewards that will inspire us to happily wake up before the sun catches us in the bed.
We increase our productivity
The modern trend is to be always on a rush. We are hardly in the present. Rising early gives us a distraction-free environment so that we can prepare for the day and be better time-managers. Psychology studies show that early risers are more productive than night owls. Waking up in the early hours (of course, after a good night sleep) gives a mental boost keeping us more alert and focused during the day. Oversleep and late nights, on the other hand, result in slackness and even increase the risk of mood disorders like depression.
We develop self discipline
We snooze, we lose. Radhanath Swami, a monk and a spiritual teacher, says, “The more we feed the laziness of our mind, the more it becomes strong.” It requires will power to go against our old habits. Bhagavad Gita (6.5) states that mind is our best friend when controlled; but our worst enemy when left untamed. Just as a weight-lifter develops his muscles bit-by-bit through daily exercise, we strengthen our choice muscles and develop self discipline by waking up daily in the morning – that includes even weekends!
Good time for a daily work-out
Beat the stagnancy of the modern organizational work environments where we spend most of our time inside the air-conditioned cubicles surrounded by artificial lights. We can expose ourselves to the morning sun light by going on a walk and breathe the refreshing oxy-rich air. We can revitalize our stiff bodies with simple exercises or yoga postures that prepare us for the hustle-bustle ahead in the day.
Ideal time for meditation
We often get caught up with the rat race. Statistics show that a significant number of the people in the world today are suffering with symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. We need to habituate ourselves to take out some quality time aside, each day if possible, to make that inner connection with God through spiritual practices. Bhagavad Gita says that morning hours, being in the sattva guna, are the ideal time for spiritual practices. Such practices help us to balance our lives in a holistic way – physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is somewhat like tuning ourselves to a higher frequency – that of goodness, compassion and God’s grace – through meditation.
Instead of withdrawing our minds in to nothingness during meditation, we can actively engage our mind in a spiritual way because our minds are too restless by nature. That is best possible by mantra meditation. This is much easier and practical. Mantra means a sound vibration that frees the mind of all the anxiety and negativity. When we chant the holy names of God, the sound affects our consciousness because the holy name of God puts us in direct contact with God. The best mantra recommended for this age by all the ancient scriptures is called the maha (great) mantra.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
We can feel a sense of satisfaction and purity in our consciousness through the practice of mantra meditation in the morning hours. That is a good way to begin our day in a God-centered way.
How to make it happen
Becoming a morning person is a habit that is aspired by many but accomplished by very few. While some may feel that they accomplished this, many fail to understand that getting up in the morning and becoming a morning person are two different things. Today, we will look at a few ways in which we can transform our self from begrudgingly waking up in the morning, to truly enjoying waking up early.
- Avoid eating late after 8 PM – A heavy stomach in the night results in acidity and indigestion. Even as per Ayurveda, it is recommended to have lighter meal after the sun set for better digestion.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks in the night – Caffeinated drinks activate the central nervous system, causing temporary stimulating effects. Instead, one can have a relaxation herbal tea.
- Shut off artificial lights an hour before going to bed – Science says that our internal body clock is genetically designed to run on a circadian rhythm. This natural biological clock is set to the 24-hour cycle of the sunrise and sunset when we have enough exposure to natural sun light. In that case, we go to bed on time and wake up early. However, exposure to electrical lights, especially in the night time, disrupts this circadian rhythm leading to later bed times.
- Wind down ritual – There is no end to the chattering of the mind. We need to shut off at some point. Life goes on! Why not postpone the worrying to the next day if we cannot solve it now. We can follow a routine that prepares us for a good night rest. Reading a spiritually motivating literature to remember God and expressing gratitude is a good way to end the day on a positive note. Avoid stressful conversations or watching suspense movies before going to bed as they agitate the mind further.
Apply these simple tips and reap the advantages of being a ‘morning person’. As the Gita says, the experience is like poison in the beginning but nectar in the end!