Did you ever find yourself admiring the idea of meditating in the early morning? The idea of starting your day right with mindfulness and awareness? Maybe you didn’t quite make it yet?
Why wanting it is not enough
There is no happiness without struggle, so what you really have to ask yourself: What am I am willing to sacrifice? What am I willing to go through to achieve my desired goal? Change is transformation and transformation is at least a little painful in some ways. There is no benefit without a cost.
At the core of human being, we all want the same: A partner we love, a job we like, a cosy home, a fit body – to that we add our individual layers which is like coloring the same box differently. Let’s say you fancy the image of yourself with a six-pack. But are you willing to spend hours and hours doing repetitive movements in the gym? Are you willing to watch your every calorie intake? No? Well, you probably don’t really want that six-pack after all. If you hate the gym, if you don’t like to watch what you are eating, then you are only in love with a result and this is a set-up for failure. You have to fall in love with the process, you have to get excited about going to the gym, you have to enjoy the exhaustion after a long training, you have to be enthusiastic about watching what you eat. And this will get you through the dry spells. So if there is something you want to change in your life, ask yourself if you are willing to replace an old part of your life with a new one, ask yourself which struggles you are willing to face, because they will determine your success. Change and transformation is work, you have to face it and you’ll only work for something you really want. So are you excited to meditate?
What makes you want to meditate? What is it that you brim over with enthusiasm for?
For me that was the infectious calm of my yoga teacher. The equanimity and the mental balance she seemed to have was something I absolutely wanted. I was born on the over-emotional side, I feel a lot and very intense (both good and bad), I’m built ultra-near (or rather directly into) to the water and that’s sometimes very uncomfortable for me. There were times where I felt my emotions dominated my life and I was a helpless victim to them. My teacher showed me that meditation was a great possibility to find a calm center in myself. A place I could always turn to in times of unease and trouble. So I read everything on meditation I could get my hands on, I listened to talks, I watched videos, went to events and I attended my meditation courses. The challenge was to set up my own sitting practice.
My struggles with meditation
The only way to make sure I meditated daily was to do it in the morning. As a not-a-morning-person that was hard, not gonna lie (read about it here). Waking up 10 minutes earlier felt like a lot at first. I failed many times and that was usually because I talked myself out of it and that is a dangerous road to take – don’t listen to your sleepy self! “I can meditate in the evening.”, or “Skipping one day is not such a big deal, right?” is a trickster road back into your comfort zone. Drag yourself over this point of inconvenience immediately and you will have a long term reward. And remember: everything is hard before its easy. After a few months with some bumps along the road my meditation habit was established and I didn’t want to miss my morning meditation anymore because it felt so good – way better than sleeping a bit longer ever could have.
Here are my tips for making an early morning meditation a habit:
Commit and hold yourself accountable
Sounds simple but you have to do it. Make a promise to yourself and also tell someone close about your new commitment to making meditation a habit. It’s not that easy to stray off the path if you have to explain to someone else that you were just too lazy to get up in time today.
Preparation is everything
Go to bed early – a good night’s sleep is essential. If I am sleep-deprived getting up is the worst and I can hardly focus so I do myself a favor by being in bed ideally by 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. latest.
Set yourself up for success
Decide in the evening where you are going to sit in the morning and prepare everything. I recommend using the same spot everyday and that can be a cushion, a blanket on the floor or even a chair. This way you don’t have to waste time in the morning by thinking about where to start.
DO NOT SNOOZE
Set an alarm and stick to it. Nothing good has ever come from snoozing. I can not stress this enough and it has been a pitfall for me over and over again. Trust me it’s a bad idea, here is a great article on this and a great visual reminder here. Just get up, breathe deeply, move, stretch and open the window for some fresh air. Exercise your willpower first thing in the morning.
Move before you sit
Do at least a few gentle yoga stretches to wake up the body. If I don’t move a little before I sit down I tend to be rather restless in both body and mind. I find it way easier to sit silently after my body has shaken off the stiffness of the night.
Get some support
If you find it hard to simply watch your breath or stick to a mantra you can use guided meditations or music that helps you focus. Just google a little and you’ll find a lot of useful stuff. There are also great meditation apps out there like headspace or 1giantmind – they are for beginners and seasoned meditators alike. I will make a blogpost on the pros and cons of these two apps as well.
Start where you are and be consistent
If you are only starting with meditation it is unlikely you will enjoy a 30 minute sitting. Rather than sitting once a week for uncomfortable 30 minutes, sit down for 5-10 minutes with all your heart daily. Even if I am short on time, I sit down for at least a few minutes each morning and it makes a huge difference.
Enjoy a nice breakfast and a special tea after your meditation and take some time to notice the difference in your mind.
Let me know how it goes or if you have any more tips on this, we’re in this together!