I think it’s time to revisit my quest to become a Morning Person. It seems that my problem lies not in establishing a routine, having the right alarm clock, or lack of desire. My issue, which is applies to so many more things that this particular trial, is in making a choice.
I had a really good stretch of waking up at 7:30 and doing some ayurvedic cleansing practices, cooking breakfast, doing yoga and mantra, showering etc etc. It felt really nice to have this extra time to myself and I felt prepared for my day, relaxed and easy rather than already behind schedule, frantic and stressed. Those feelings were nice. I like them. I’d like to have that again.
Then, my Dad died. It has been much harder to get out of bed. This is not because I feel depressed or am overcome by sobbing (although the sobbing and anxiety has definitely popped up and I have taken a few mental health days here and there). I haven’t really analyzed what is driving me to hit the snooze alarm until now.
I spent this past weekend in Advanced Yoga Teacher Training studying the Bhagavad Gita. This is a text about karma, which means action. We discussed (and will continue to discuss, intensively) sadhana, or practice. Sadhana consists of the wonderful things we do in our daily yoga practice, including asana (the physical movement), mantra, self-study, meditation, and more. In order to develop a steady sadhana, one has to do it every day. This is…hard.
It’s hard to do something every day! It’s easy to get excited about a practice, especially one like asana that makes you feel fantastic. It’s tempting to dive into a practice whole-heartedly and with commitment. It is much, much harder to sustain a practice. It gets old. It gets stale, Excuses are made, alternative acts performed. We skip days. The practice falls away.
This is what I see happening time and again with my morning routine (and my sadhana, but that’s a different story). It’s not that I have grand plans for what to do with the extra time each morning. I don’t know if it would help to have a plan. What is hard for me is making the hard decision every day.
I love lazing in bed. I think my bed is divine. It’s soft, cozy, comfortable, and safe. I feel safe and nurtured and warm when I’m in bed. When I leave bed, I feel the rush of time, the pressure of commitments, the weight of emotions. I need nurturing, safety, support and comfort in my life. It is difficult to make the choice to climb out of the sweet womb of my bed into the chilly, harsh world–even on days when I wake up feeling great. Even when I am excited to go wherever it is I have to be. Even when it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
So, how do I make that choice? What will help me?
Here’s what I’m thinking.
1. Just do it
Oh, gods, that sounds terrible.
We talked this weekend about developing will. I’d never really thought of will as something to be developed. I thought, you either have it or you don’t. My willpower is weak, I thought. I’m just not born with the sort of willpower that creates successful, Type A, morning people.
This is not actually true. What I happen to be weaker in is will development, which I may have just made up. Now I’m thinking that I lack the willpower to develop will. That’s just a rabbit hole of thoughts that I am not trying to climb down right now.
Anyway, how do you develop will? By doing the thing you need to do. By doing it every day. By making the hard choice even though it is hard. By making the hard choice because it is hard. The things that are the best for us aren’t always the easiest. I’ve been told these things become easier with the doing. You get used to making the choice and to the wonderful consequences of making that choice. That’s what they say, anyway (“they” being my teachers and maybe also Lord Krishna).
2. find alternative ways to satisfy needs
I was just typing “making a plan doesn’t work for me,” but I think that’s a little lie. Making a plan may very well work wonders for me if I can just make the hard choice. I don’t, however, think that the plan will help me make the choice. I can review my lovely plans for morning time in my head for many minutes while I lie under my comforter and still choose to snooze for 10 minutes (6 times in a row, which really is not very healthy). But…it could also be that I’ve been going about this the wrong way.
Making a plan has been about finding things that I think would be great to do in the morning, like go for a run, do sadhana, and journal. These are, of course, totally great things, but are there better things?
Let’s look at my list of needs: comfort, support, safety, and nurturing. I also need order and relaxation (as opposed to being rushed, scattered and stressed). Some of those needs are satisfied by lounging as long as possible in the morning, but that behavior also helps to create the feelings of rushing and stress and scattered brain which I do not like at all. Are there alternative practices I can do in the morning that make me feel the way I want to (warm, comforted, rested, and safe)? Am I willing to find out if there are, and to create a lovely morning routine that would fulfill my needs? Could I use these practices as further incentive to make the hard choice, knowing that I can continue to feel lovely outside of my down-filled heaven?
I think so. I hope so. I’m going to try.
Do you have habits that required consistent practice in making a hard choice? Is there one in particular that you feel gave you strength to make more hard choices?