The morning I thought would never come (the one where I enjoyed waking up early)

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If you had walked into my bedroom at dawn a decade ago, you probably would’ve found me wide awake, book in hand. Not because I had gotten up early to read, but because I hadn’t ever gone to bed the night before. My “ideal” sleep schedule, in between bouts of insomnia and the forced early mornings of school, was around 6am to 2pm up through college.

Obviously, this is not sustainable in adulthood for people who don’t work the graveyard shift. It wasn’t really sustainable in school either, to be honest, but I got by. At the time, I was more than happy to be as nocturnal as possible, and I would never have thought I’d ever be anything but a night owl.

I look back at that sleeping schedule in horror now, much as I imagine my teenage self would look at the idea of waking before 8am on a Saturday. Where once I relied desperately on my blackout curtains to keep out the sun as it rose high in the sky, now I regularly beat it to arise–on purpose! Without even having to!

Becoming a morning person wasn’t an overnight process, though. Here are the steps I took to give my mornings an energising boost:

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Ten Minutes of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a lifelong practice, and for most of us, it requires conscious effort. We wake up in the mornings bleary-eyed and in need of caffeine rather than serene and at peace with ourselves and the world. It’s easy for us to go about our days telling ourselves that we don’t have time to meditate or do yoga, no spare minutes to practice gratitude in between commuting and working and hitting the gym and cooking dinner and taking care of kids and doing homework and buying groceries and doing every other one of those essential things that seem to eat up every moment of the day.

The truth is, we do have time, and we choose to fill that time with reading and Netflix and sports and bar-hopping and every other one of those non-essential things, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This isn’t a “social media is the devil” post, because that subject is beyond played out and anyway that’s not how I feel (perhaps a topic for another post). What this is, is proof that even with the few spare moments you have in your life, you can practice mindfulness. Even if you only have 10 minutes, here are 10 ways to bring more awareness into your everyday.

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Mindfulness in the Face of Life’s Little Annoyances

You know how some people just rub you the wrong way, even if they’ve done nothing to warrant it? Maybe it’s the guy who works at the coffee shop you frequent every morning, the one who always says hello but looks as though he’s just smelled something bad. Maybe it’s your coworker whose friendly attempts at small talk grate before you’ve had a chance to drink the coffee you just bought from the dour barista. They haven’t done anything to offend you; there’s just something about them.

There’s a girl in my yoga class who, until recently, was like that for me. She’s never said a word to me, nor I to her, but I was just not a fan. Most of the reason is that she commits one of my biggest pet peeves–getting up and leaving during savasana (or sometimes she does other, more energetic poses in place of this all-important final resting pose)–but the fact that she always seems determined to try to stretch herself into the fullest extent of the pose, form be damned, didn’t help either. Take your cues from your body, not from Instagram, girl.

So I’m in class, in savasana, while she’s doing pigeon pose or whatever, and suddenly I realise: if she’s beng a “bad yogi” by ignoring the niyama of isvara pranidhana, surrender, then I’m being a bad yogi by letting her actions dictate my feelings in opposition to the niyama of santosha, contentment. Whatever she is doing is not half as detrimental to my own well-being as what my own thoughts and prejudices are doing to me.

Continue reading “Mindfulness in the Face of Life’s Little Annoyances”