Today, I wake up to the peace and quiet of an early morning.
It’s 5:45 and still completely dark outside, except for two street lamps that light the paths to other parts of campus. I get up early, but usually not this early. Usually, I would find myself in bed for another 45 minutes or so.
I’m not complaining though. I have come to realize that early mornings can be some of the most peaceful and productive times for me. I get to sit here typing away at my keyboard, not yet concerned with the day ahead and what I have to get done. My mind is free of the distractions that make it hard to focus. Instead, I’m just content to be here…writing.
It was a few years ago that I tried to start waking up earlier. I remember all through middle school and into high school, I used to wake up around 7 and rush through my morning to make the bus on time. I didn’t enjoy it. All the rushing around left me feeling in a hurry even as I got on the bus and into school. I didn’t get to set my intention for the day. I was just being blown around by the events of the day. If I forgot something or getting ready took longer than planned, I was left to deal with the anxiety of possibly being late.
My answer to these issues was to start waking up earlier.
The first few days were likely a struggle. Gradually, I got used to it. As it got easier, I began to enjoy my early mornings.
Now, when I wake up, I try to get a few things done before I truly start my day. The first is some sort of short meditation. I usually try to just sit and notice my breath for anywhere from a minute to 15 minutes. This just helps me feel a little calmer. Then, I set my intention for the day. I decide on 3 or 4 qualities I want to show for the day. It could be curiosity, enthusiasm, calmness, etc. These qualities are the things I try to come back to if I notice I’m feeling off. They are the place where I want to live my day.
This act of intention-setting is a really important part of the day for me and I regret to admit that I sometimes miss it. The idea is you can let your morning control how much of your day looks or you can decide to pre-determine how your day is going to look. When we wake up just in time to get things done, we often have to rush through them and we don’t get to truly enjoy them. As a result, our morning and much of our day become a checklist to complete, instead of time to enjoy what we’re doing.
Being intentional and giving yourself more time in the morning won’t automatically make the rest of your day better, but it could be a good place to start. Even an extra 15 minutes can allow you to feel more peaceful as you begin your day. That feeling of peace could make you calmer as you make your way to work and more in control throughout your workday. It’s amazing how powerful our mornings can be when we harness them to work in our favor.
If you’re interested, try to start going to bed 30 minutes earlier than you are now. This will likely take at least a week to get used to. Once you are used to it, you’ll be able to go to bed and wake up 30 minutes earlier while still getting the same amount of sleep. That is 30 extra minutes each morning to do what you wish and prepare yourself for a successful day ahead.