By Bhaswati Bhattacharya
Most of us would love to awaken before dawn refreshed and full of abundant enthusiasm and energy to start our day and have extra time to finish projects, spend time in nature, or begin creative works. To start that return to ebullience, take two days to observe what prevents you from resting. What priorities are greater than your replenishment of energy and calmness? Our insecurities of being enough, being loved, or being alone are usually at the heart of all choices we make to serve others without serving our own preservation of health. When we neglect ourselves by default, it is a sign of low self-respect, and mistakes against our inner wisdom, known as prajña-aparaada.
Those exempted from early rising about an hour before dawn include new mothers, people over 70, young people below 12 years old, jetlagged people traveling over many time zones, and people recovering from surgery or illness. In addition, if you wake up and realize your gut is not well and you have cramping or indigestion, you should rest a bit more and not rise.
The healthiest people will rise with their inner clock and find that the daily urge to empty their bowels often wakes them up to start their day.
To learn to rise in the morning, begin by setting the alarm clock to 5 minutes before dawn where you are. For example, if dawn occurs at 5am, then try to wake up at 4:55am. Just lie still for 1 minute, and motivate yourself to greet the sun. Then get out of bed and go find a place where you can view the eastern horizon, the rooftop, the backyard, a park, or the seaside. Wherever you can see the sun come up onto the horizon is fine. Watch the globe of red light rise until it rises in the sky to a level where it no longer touches the horizon. Go back to bed. If you need to sleep, do sleep.
After doing this for a few days, notice any changes in your body. Many notice changes in their tiredness, their hunger, their need to empty bowels, their urge to stay awake. Most notice bright changes in their creative thoughts. After doing this ritual of greeting the sun at sunrise for a few days, determine whether you want to make this huge change in your life. If you can, you will notice that you will accomplish more, have a better intimate life with your partner, friends and family. Why? As you make time for yourself, you can appreciate the time you make for others more fully, and they will feel it.
Soon you might be able to rise 50 minutes before dawn where you are. This changes by approximately 1 minute daily, getting shorter from July to December, and longer from December to July in the northern hemisphere. As you rise in the morning, and choose to adopt it, you will want to work on it every day until it becomes a loved and adherent part of your morning schedule.
The South Asia Times Columnist Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya is a Fulbright Specialist 2018‐2023 in Public Health and Clinical Asst Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York. Her bestselling book Everyday Ayurveda is published by Penguin Random House.