Early Rising Rocks

Why Early Rising ?

The way we start our day and how we spend our first waking hours will determine the events to come. As most of us have experienced, waking up and rushing out the door is not pleasant. The worst thing we can do to ourselves is to stress out early in the morning. By doing so, there is a risk that the rest of the day will be a mess. On the other hand, oversleeping and staying in bed for hours after waking up makes us unproductive and lazy, since our brain activity will slow down. Believe me, I’m talking from experience:
Me as a late riser.

During my whole life up through my 20’s, my mantra was : “I’m not a morning type of person – I work better at night.”

I grew up in the 90’s. The time of the cyber revolution that suddenly opened up a whole new world into which I could escape. I spent most of my nights as a teenager sitting in front of the computer screen, and this habit followed me through my 20’s. This habit gave me the feeling that it was absolutely normal to stay awake until 5 or 6 in the morning. By doing so, I couldn’t overcome any morning activities and was often very late to appointments happening before noon. I always woke up at the last minute, kept hitting snooze on my alarm clock for “five more minutes”, and when I finally got up, I had to rush out of the door without time to eat breakfast, and leaving behind a mess. I always found outer circumstances to blame for me being late, and could not see how I could ever arrive on time with such bad traffic, such bad bus connections and so on. Spending my nights looking into the sharp light of the computer screen, I had difficulties falling asleep. When I finally did, my sleep was abrupt with disturbing dreams. I remember staying in bed for 12 hours or even longer, and always craving for five more minutes, expecting that some miracle would happen after that and I would become less tired. I simply didn’t get that what I was doing to myself was completely unnatural, and had the exact opposite effect of what I wanted. If anyone criticized my behavior I would defend myself by seeing them as weird and look for any source of information that would support my idea that late risers were smarter than other people.

It took me a long time to understand that an unregulated sleeping pattern can have a negative influence on our health.

Being mostly introvert, I find refuge in the quiet undisturbed hours. My ideas rise and my senses feel a kind of relief in the quietness and dim lighting. These sensations kept me trapped in the late-night cycles until I realized something: I could be even more productive if I could wake up very early instead of staying awake all night. In the very early morning, it is usually quiet, which means that there are no distractions.

How I got interested in waking up early

It wasn’t before I decided to become a yoga teacher that I realized the benefits of waking up early. My life back then was a disaster and I was losing one opportunity after the other. I joined a yoga teacher training that started every morning at 7am. It sounded like a challenge for me and I decided to make it work. The first affirmation that I gave myself was that I had to give it a chance, in oder to know if I am really a “night person”. The second affirmation was that just because my previous attempts to wake up early had failed it didn’t mean that this time would be the same. My earlier attempts had a lack of inner motivation, but this time I had the goal of doing my best to become a yoga teacher.

During the training, I found out that the secretion of the hormone melatonin happens during the night. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates mood, helps protect against Alzheimer’s disease and brain aging, and is so important to the health of your immune system that a lack of it causes your thymus gland, a key component of your immune system, to shrink in size.

The release of melatonin is only one of the many reasons to keep a healthy sleeping pattern. If your mornings and/or nights look in any way like mine used to do, it might be a good idea to adjust your habits. Luckily, there are many small tricks and rituals that might help us get into a better rhythm.

Getting ready

Getting ready to structure your mornings in a new way can be quite a challenge. Therefore I would like to share my private morning routine with you.

Plan more time for your morning routine as you used to. Personally I use 1.5 – 2 hours on my morning routine. Set your alarm to the same time every day or as many days as possible. Yes, the first week will be tough, but it will without a doubt work and the faster you get used to it, the faster you will experience the benefits. As the weeks passes, your body adjusts itself, you will wake up fully rested and feel like going to bed around the same time every night.

Before you follow the whole plan, please remember to take it slow and not overdo it. Maybe you should start by waking up every day at the same time and do one or two stretches? A slow transition normally leads to stable habits. Any radical change won’t last long. And remember: Take these steps as guidelines for you to develop your own routine!

What to do when waking up?

Be mindful of your first two hours, and you’ll be mindful of your last twenty two!

The following steps are a good way to start your day and by doing them regularly, they can bring energy, vitality, productivity, as well as mental and emotional balance into your life.

When your alarm goes off, don’t press the snooze button, but don’t sit up straight away either. Give yourself time to feel your body by going through the “morning stretching program”.

Morning routine:

1. After you wake up, feel yourself – (15 minutes)

As soon as you wake up, take one or two minutes to see how your body feels. Notice areas that are stiff and observe the way you are feeling this morning without judging it (pleasant, unpleasant, this or that…).

I recommend that you do a stretching program: you can see the article here, where I wrote about the morning stretching program I developed.

2. Hydration & Cleansing – 20 minutes

step 1: Drink water

During the night, your body becomes dehydrated. Drink three to five glasses of water at room temperature (warm water around 27 degrees Celsius). It won’t only hydrate you, but also helps your systems “reboot”. Another good thing to do is to drink fresh-lemon water right after leaving the bed. Lemon helps alkalize the body and will clean up the gastric path. Be sure to use a freshly cut lemon, since it’ll be less acid, and to get calcium afterwards to balance the PH-value in your mouth. This measure will prevent corrosion of your precious teeth. If you add a bit of salt, it will help kill parasites.

Step 2: Cleaning nose, throat and mouth

Many of us who live in polluted environments or have disturbances in our dietary habits, wake up with some mucus in our throat and nose. Use part of the lemon that you cut for the water and a bit of salt, mix them with water at room temperature and gargle for a minimum of three times(minutes?) {or…and gargle at least three times}. Avoid using chemical products for this process.

There are many options for cleaning the nose. You can just blow it, but often it is not efficient enough. Instead you can clean your nose by using a mix of lemon, salt and water, which you let flow through the nostrils. This cleaning should only be done when you have discomfort with mucus, and won’t be a long-term solution. If the problem persists, consider changing the diet and environment in which you live.

Brush your teeth, and don’t forget to clean your tongue, so that you can feel the taste of your breakfast.

Step 3: Inner and outer cleaning

Hopefully now, it’s time to let go of the crap (crap is a less offensive word than shit) from yesterday (yes, I do mean going to the toilet)

As a finish, take a good shower. Put on some fresh clothes and enjoy your clean body.

3. Sit, breathe and meditate – 5 to 10 minutes

I wouldn’t recommend doing meditation as the very first thing of the day. My experience is that it is much easier to let go of the mental crap from yesterday, if you have already let go of that stuck in your colon and on your outer body. So after having stretched, hydrated and cleaned our body, it is time to clear our mind.

I believe that I don’t need to say more about meditation and its benefits. Both science and spirituality are unanimous on how positively meditation affects the body and mind. I would advise you to meditate every time in the same place, in order to give signals to your mind that it is time to meditate. Sit on a comfortable cushion and close your eyes or focus your gaze on an object. Start slowly, and aim to short and humble goals which fit your individual area of progress. It can be anything from 1-20 minutes a day. Science shows that a lot of the so-called “happy-hormones”, are being released after only 12 minutes of meditating, but in order to train peace of the mind it is more than okay to just be in for example five minutes stillness, and then later increase that time. And when you think about it, only five minutes of sitting straight, paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, posture and breath is achievable, right?

4. Make your to-do list for the day – 5 minutes

With a clear mind and body, it is time to make your to-do list for the day.

It is easier to achieve short goals and to focus your mind on the task. Take 5 minutes, visualize the day ahead and write down everything you wish to accomplish. Keep the list with you during the day and cross every task that has been done. Trust me, it will give a good sensation and this small habit will be a procrastination killer. <!– Article –>

5. Do a light workout (optional) – 20 minutes

I wouldn’t recommend to work out every morning. If you have a wish about strengthening your body or losing fat, as well as having a need for extra energy, you can perform a couple of sun salutations or do other asanas according to your personal needs. Another option is to exercise during a work break or in the evening. Be sure not to do a hard exercise right after eating.

6. Breakfast – 30 minutes

Give yourself enough time to prepare and eat a good and healthy breakfast. Personally, I use around 30 minutes to mindfully eat.

If you need a healthy and quick alternative to your normal breakfast, go low-carb, since it will help you calming your buzzing mind while keeping your energy levels high.

7. Clean your surroundings – 10 minutes

It’s better to do the clean up before you start your day than procrastinating on it. Nobody wants to come home and find it dirty and messy. So, do a favor to yourself, be clean with your body, mind…. and your environment!

Open the windows for fresh air to circulate. Make your bed, clean the dishes, organize the mess. and bring the organic garbage out. Don’t let your home “constipate” by letting it rot inside.

Final words

There you have it! Two hours of your day extra for you, without distractions before interacting with the outer world.

Although this may look like a long list, it is important for your health to follow them mindfully. I’m a pretty slow person, and by doing all the above steps I usually take 1 hour and 40 minutes. If I wake up two hours before I leave, there will be 20 minutes left to answer messages, read the news etc. It may seem like a lot of extra time to spend in the morning, but it’s very much about getting used to a new habit. So try to be consistent and incorporate the list step by step, without being too critical of yourself whenever it may not work. And remember: This routine might not necessarly work for you. Take these guidelines as an insight and develop your own habits. What you should keep in mind is not to rush out of your bed, starting your day in a hurry.

Any thoughts ?

I wish you a beautiful day ahead!