Waking Up (in the morning)

“This being human is a house guest. Every morning a new arrival. Welcome and entertain them all.” –Rumi

Mornings. For most of us, they can be tough at least occasionally. Most people associate coffee with the morning. That along with rushing around to go to work, and for most of us living in the developed world, the morning’s potential remains unrealized. But what makes the morning so special? What really sets it apart from any other part of the day? If you do the least bit of googling, you’ll find references to the morning as a time to commune with “God”. For example, in The Book of Genesis, the story describes God hanging out with Adam and Eve in the mornings and evenings. Still, many other spiritual teachers, meditation experts, and even modern science itself all point to the important nature of the time we spend in the mornings. Yet most people don’t really comprehend the power that they hold for themselves each and every morning; however, there’s a key to be found in that moment of waking up that unlocks the rest of the day.

“The morning breeze has secrets to tell you. Do not go back to sleep.” Rumi

Like most children and teens, as a kid, I too enjoyed staying in bed as long as I could get away with, but when I was 15 or so, every so often, I would get up early to meet friends for early morning games of Manhunt (where we ran around the woods and shot BB guns and bottle rockets at each other). Now as to why we played these games, especially so early in the day, is craziness to me now, but I remember our motivation being fueled by our adventurous anticipation for that craziness. And still other times, I’d get up early in the morning to go to school so that I might have plenty of time to get ready. By preparing myself for the day’s interactions, it gave me confidence, unlike jumping out of the bed and showing up to school in a bed-wrinkled shirt and a cow lick on the side of my head from my pillow. But each time I jumped out of bed, I had something that motivated me, something to look forward to, or a goal that I was focused on accomplishing in that day.

Let me ask you a question: When you jump out of bed however early in the morning, what is your motivating factor? If you find yourself enthusiastic, then why so? What is it that is empowering you? Most of us remember times in our lives when we were excited about getting up to meet the day, and sometimes that energy was so intense that we couldn’t even sleep throughout the night. Now I’m not talking about the kind of nervousness that feels like it sucks the life out of you (as the result of some traumatic event that took place earlier that day or that you perceive might take place in the following one). If you’ve ever experienced spitting drill sergeants at zero-dark-thirty in the morning, it’s not that type of excitement, either. I’m not talking about the automatic reaction you have that is based on your survival instinct that gets you to the coffee pot before you’ve opened your eyes. And unless you live or have lived what some folks call a lucky and privileged life, chances are that pain, suffering, and/or stress have delayed your getting out of the bed and getting started with your day. Ultimately, waking up earlier than your body (and mind) actually wants to is probably a regularly encountered challenge, and that challenge, whatever it may be, can be overturned by discovering the magical motivations of the morning, and it begins by finding that one thing that empowers your perspective for the rest of your day.

“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” – Lemony Snicket

Here’s a quick exercise for the imagination. It’s a cold rainy Monday morning in January. You didn’t sleep well because you stayed up too late the night before. Plus, you might be sensing a bodily ache that makes you feel like you’ve been hit by a train. After inching your way to the edge of the bed, you manage to get your feet to the floor, and your eyelids abruptly contract from its icey hardness. Shortly after this eye-opening encounter, you realize that you lost a precious 15 minutes as the result of staying in bed past your alarm. If you’re a parent or caretaker, then you just tripled the workload before your work even begins. And that is when it all begins: You are now flying with Cortisol Airlines for the duration of your day. To top it off, the morning’s events might lead up to a job that you are unenthusiastically going to (and that you’ve dreaded since you drank your first cup of coffee). But one thing’s for sure: Your body still thinks it’s running from a Sabertooth Tiger or Woolly Mammoth– and do so for about 12-14 hours.

“Sometimes you just have to create your own sunshine.” –Unknown

Everyone’s story is different, but the human emotions are the same: There is something that prevents us from getting up and out of bed in the morning, and there is most certainly that occasional something that weighs heavy and drags us down in the morning (but has the potential to unlock an amazing day). Ultimately, there is some form of unhealthy stress that complicates your waking hours at least some of the time. And here’s the issue with this stress. It’s been suggested that your brain is the most magnificent computer known in the universe, and the moment your eyes open and you become aware of your life, you enter into consciousness, a state of knowing and understanding the dimension that surrounds you. Yet each morning that begins with dread, anxiety, or apathy, you turn it on with the wrong programs. It’s like turning on your computer with code that will cause it to lag, lock up, and maybe even crash. You’ve found the key to unlocking the rest of the day, but the future doesn’t look so bright if the wrong program is running. If we are to understand that our mind houses our very own consciousness (believe or perceive as you may), then you are not only starting off with the unhealthy or destructive neurochemical programs, but you’re also subconsciously and energetically preparing it for that which sucks—literally sucks the life from you.

“Good morning. Life is like a mirror: it will smile at you if you smile at it.”

–Unknown

So, you see, when you wake up in the morning (or whenever you start your day), you hold a key in your hands or rather in your mind. This key is very special because it literally unlocks the door that opens the rest of the day. You become the computer programmer who writes the programs that make up the details that become the rest of your day. From the very moment you wake up, what exactly are some of the things that you think about? Why bother paying attention to those thoughts? Well, because the morning is the most profound moment that you will have all throughout the day. Because you awaken with a fresh and uncluttered mind, your mind is operating in its most optimum state. The moment you open your eyes, your brain uploads who you are, what you need to do, and what you’re used to thinking everyday you wake up. The only one responsible for your thoughts, your programs, and your habits is you, and it’s as simple as becoming aware of those processes and practices. It’s most definitely not easy, especially when we focus on hardship, pain, and stress, but it’s as easy as being aware of those thoughts you have about those hardships and what mindset you will have towards them all day. Like everything else in life, the choice is yours. I don’t know about you, but in my perspective life is too short to continue to be stuck in the same frame of mind that gets me more of what I’ve gotten, day after day after day. I don’t know about you, but my goal in life is to be happy, and that journey starts over every single morning. The choice is yours. You have nothing to lose except the way that something didn’t work, and the greatest time to do this is in the mornings. It’s time to rewrite your script.

“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” Buddha


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