Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise. —Benjamin Franklin
You’ve probably heard the well-known saying above, but have you questioned why going to bed early and rising early can make you “healthy, happy and wise?”
Modern life is full and busy. There are work, family, home and other duties mixed in with many other social pressures and distractions. There is a great need to slow down and take some quiet time for ourselves.
Our spiritual growth is often neglected.
We need some mental space for activities such as reflection, introspection, prayer and meditation everyday. These practices bring clarity and peace of mind, which we so need in our lives.
When should we do our spiritual practices?
Predawn is the Best Time for Spiritual Practice
The predawn hours are the best time for spiritual practice according to the masters of Vedanta. They advise us to wake up between 4:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Spiritual practices done at this time yield the best results because there is a stillness and purity in the atmosphere that is unmatched at any other time of the day.
The quality that characterizes this time is called sattva in Sanskrit. Sattva stands for goodness, truth, purity and nobility.
Because the early morning hours are naturally sattvic, it is easier to impress the mind with positive ideas and habits at this time.
If you have gone to bed early and are well rested, you will notice that your mind is quietly alert, creative and very programmable.
Go to Bed Early
To be able to wake up this early, you will have to regulate your previous day’s activities—especially what you do in the evening.
It would be best if you could go to sleep by 10 p.m. To do that, you will need to have your evening meal, and wind down your day’s activities earlier.
You may have heard that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after midnight. From my own experience, I certainly find this to be true. The earlier I sleep, the more alert and rested I feel in the morning.
What to do at this time
When you wake up I would suggest your spend a few minutes reading some spiritual, religious or inspirational material and then reflecting on what you have read. You can read, The importance of self-reflection to understand how to do this.
When your mind is uplifted with these thoughts, you can turn it on yourself and review your life, relationships and interactions. This is introspection. I explain the four steps in the process of introspection in The most powerful practice for peace of mind and spiritual transformation.
And lastly, take a few minutes for meditation. These few minutes provide the mental space that gives you clarity and solutions for your life.
The many advantages of sleeping early and waking up early
There are many advantages to sleeping and waking up early:
1. Late night activities that disturb your mind and sleep, such as watching TV, will be cut out. —Because you need to wake up early, you will easily give up extraneous activities that don’t add value to your day.
2. Better sleep—Things that we do before sleeping linger in the subconscious mind. What you have just watched on TV or done on your computer may prevent you from falling asleep easily. Those impressions may also play out as disturbing dreams.
3. Better health and energy for your life. —Better sleep will do this.
4. Greater self-awareness and inner transformation. —The sattvic early morning time promotes introspection that will lead to a greater awareness of the areas where you need to make positive changes in your life, behaviour and relationships.
5. A quieter, more balanced mind—This will give you clarity and strength to meet your daily challenges.
6. Increased creativity – Your quiet mind makes it easier for you to tap into your intuition and find creative solutions and ideas for your life.
7. Peace of mind – giving yourself time to think, reflect, pray and meditate will surely bring you a overall sense of peace.
8. Practice in self-discipline. —Adopting an early bedtime and early waking time routine helps you develop self-discipline, a vital character trait that can help you in other areas of your life. No worthwhile goal can be achieved without self-discipline.
How I Wake up Early
I go to bed around 10 p.m. in the evening so that I can wake up around 4 a.m. in the morning. Once I open my eyes, I don’t hit the snooze button on my clock or allow myself to toss in bed, deciding whether or not to get up. I simply get out of bed.
I brush my teeth, take a shower, and so forth. This refreshes my body and stimulates my mind.
I consider my practice as an important meeting I have to attend. Of course, I don’t get dressed as if I were going out. I simply put on a clean pair of pajamas that I have set out the night before.
I then go to my sacred space to read, reflect, pray and meditate. I find that my mind readily absorbs what I am reading, and because it is so peaceful around me, I am better able to focus in meditation. Sometimes, I also journal and plan for the day.
I am up for about an hour and a half. I know it seems like a long time, but the time flies. Then, because I’m tired and it’s still before 6 am, I go back to sleep for about an hour until it’s time for me to start the usual activities of the day. My mind is peaceful and so, the sleep is especially deep and restful. I love my early morning sleep!
Of course, every day does not provide me the perfect opportunity to sleep early. Temporary changes in my routine, duties and responsibilities at home and work, and the health of my body disturb my daily practice. I try not to allow a gap of more than two days.
The article, Daily habits of a spiritual seeker sums up how to reflect, introspect, pray and meditate.
Be “happy, healthy and wise”
As you resolve to go to sleep and awaken early for your spiritual practice, you will find that the joy and peace that you gain from your reflection and meditation practice will gently motivate you to make positive lifestyle changes to suit it.
Unimportant and unnecessary activities that don’t fit in with your new spiritual goals will drop away effortlessly. You will feel lighter and have a greater clarity in life
Then, you will be happier, healthier in your mind and body, and wiser too.
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Like you I try to wake up early. However my problem is I probably attach low priority to my meditation wherein the snare of material things often causes me to run away from waking up early and often times my report card ends up less than 50% marks. At the end, there is a sense of disenchantment and regret I cud not win mind over matter. You seem to take your time seriously to the point that you even get dressed. If I cud even sit one week, I figure I will have some control. So I appreciate the point you made :
Quote // I consider my practice as an important meeting I have to attend. // Unquote
I shall take cue from you of ‘getting ready’ each morning for an important meeting. I am 54 going 55 and beyond money, children, wealth (which I already have) there is an inner voice that is getting louder each time : ‘Prepare for your onward journey, that day is going to come when you must travel by yourself, prepare now so you can meet your Maker later’.
Thanks Manisha for inspiring me with your spiritual jewels once again. When I turn to dust, your words will be the real jewels giving me direction to the treasures that await in the journey after this life. I like to think with all the good you do for people like us your place with the Lord is assured.
Thank you and may the Lord bless you.
Hello Geo, I am touched by your sincere sharing and kind words. Thank you so much. You are a true spiritual seeker and Conscious Evolver. I’m happy to know that my experience in waking up early, taking a shower and getting ready for my spiritual practice will help you do the same.
It’s so true that our worldly concerns get priority over our spiritual practice. That is why we need to make time for it first thing in the morning, before anything else.
Waking up early for quiet reflection and mediation is the one habit that will literally transform all other areas of your life. — It certainly has transformed mine. Good Luck!!
I can attest to this beautiful, early morning practice whole-heartedly. I have been doing exactly this for more than 30 years. When I was working, I used to get up at 2:30 to do all my prayers etc, & then take a short nap before getting up for the day. It worked wonders for my psyche & my well-being. I am so o happy that I did it since life has brought many challenges which, most of the time, I am able to handle with equanimity.
Thank you for sharing your experience. It is certainly wonderful to share mine with you.
It’s wonderful to hear that you too have found the benefits of doing your spiritual practice early in the morning. Kudos to you for waking up at 2.30 am so you could make the time for this important part of your day even while you were working. This will inspire others who are sincerely striving to grow. It will show them that we always make time for what we deem as important in our life. To be able to stay balanced in the midst of challenges is the essence of spiritual growth. The reward of mental equanimity is a true sign that your practice is working. Thank you for sharing your experience Reshu!