I slept through a whole day once, a whole beautiful 24 hours that I didn’t experience other than in my dream state. I was young, around 19, and was studying in university. We had been up late both working on assignments and partying simultaneously, and early one morning I crashed before dawn and didn’t wake up until 2 calendar days later.
Now I get up before 6 every morning (or at least most mornings) to meditate and practice yoga. I used to be a night person, and now I am a morning person. When people enquire about my morning rituals, they are often compelled to share with me why these habits are perfectly beyond them as they are ‘a night person’ and therefore excluded from this far reached possibility.
I too believed this, and for the first year of trying to become otherwise I did nothing but continue to annoy my husband by my countless snooze-hitting. It’s amazing how my awake brain, the brain that sets the alarm, that makes the decision to get up and do good for myself, is a far removed personification from my cosy-sleep-enveloped morning brain who instructs me that under no circumstance am I to leave the warm comfort of my bed to conclude said morning rituals, and that absolutely – the next 40 to 90 minutes in bed are going to make my day FAR better than any amount of yoga or meditation could possibly achieve. Of course, this isn’t true, but morning brain wins this battle over and over and poor naive evening brain continues to set the alarm time and again in the hope that this brain, might some morning be the one to respond.
Why oh why is it so hard? Not only is the extra sleep going to mean missing out on valuable practice time, and perhaps the only available time all day (2 small children, self-employed yoga business job, house to run) but it’s quite possible it will render me feeling worse than upon initial awakening as deep sleep is disturbed for the second time. But morning brain is quite the trickster, and ultimately wins.
I used to smoke. I smoked all the time; first thing in the morning, after every meal. At bars, restaurants. After flights/buses/car journeys. I smoked when I was busy and stressed, I smoked when I was happy and relaxed. I made several attempts to quit before my final and successful time – 15th August 2002, which happens to coincide with India Independence Day. During my foiled attempts and in the beginning of my final one, friends used to say to me – I couldn’t imagine you not smoking. Now, when I tell new friends and acquaintances that I used to smoke, especially my yoga students, they say a similar thing: I couldn’t imagine you smoking.
Our stories are not permanent. They are ever changing and we are the ones with the power to change them. If we change our attitude about it, we can change anything we want.
And I wanted to be a morning person. I wanted to get up early, everyday or at least most days, and meditate and practice yoga. I have wanted this for the last 10 years of my life, yet it unscrupulously usurped me time and again. Until recently that is.
How did I do it? This might sound ridiculous, but by just ‘doing it’. I read a great Van Gogh quote recently, ‘if the voice inside your head tells you that you can’t paint, then by all means paint. That will surely silence the voices’. Likewise, if you just start getting up, that sneaky smart-as-a-button morning brain will be silenced, because you will have GOTTEN up before, and you will KNOW that you WILL feel better for doing it, that you will indeed feel 200% better than you would have if you’d gone back to sleep. That you will feel stronger, calmer, happier, fitter, wiser, freer, more at peace. That hauling your tired arse out of bed and getting on the mat, however cold and dark it may be, will leave you with a warm glow that will follow you all day until peacefully, at end the day and at a respectful hour, tired from a full and purpose filled day you will fall into a natural and easy sleep. The cunning morning brain will have no grounds, no words, and no leads with which to trick you, because morning brain’s power will be gone. If you keep listening to it, and never get up, it will reign supreme, but start the process and get up for just a few mornings, and that voice will fairly soon be silenced.