Becoming a Morning Person: The Hard Choice

Becoming a Morning Person | Whisper & Howl | #whisper&howl #morning #sadhana #habits #willpower

Oh, is that what sunrise is?

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? 

 

A Week in Witchiness (or, One Witchy Week): 9/9-9/15

I’ve been a good little witch this last week.  With the New Moon in Virgo on Sunday night, my earth-loving, purifying, refining nature has been out in full force. Here are some of the things I’ve done:

5 ways I’ve been witchy since wednesday

Handpainted eyeball gel manicure | Whisper & Howl

Number 1

 I painted eyeballs on my fingernails.  I am obsessed.  When the paint inevitably peels off, I will be so, so sad.

Number 2

I undertook an Ayurvedic cleanse.  I’ve been taking herbs for a while and they seem to be helping, so I decided to do a Fall Cleanse right as the weather decided to drop 20 degrees!  Unexpected bonus: I’ve lost 3 lbs.

NUMBER 3

Because of the cleanse and its morning practices, I’ve been getting up much earlier than usual and am loving it!  I do some cleansing practices, make breakfast, shower and do yoga all before work.  It’s giving me more time in the evening, since my sadhana is already done, and has jolted me straight into a beautiful morning routine.  I’m getting a little closer to becoming a morning person every day.

Eclipse Healer by Mystic Mamma

Number 4

I taught 4 yoga classes last week, including the New Moon and Solar Eclipse in Virgo class on Sunday.  I love teaching the moon classes.  I get to learn all about what’s going on astrologically and impart it to others along with lots of my favorite poses (chandra namaskar or moon salutations is my favorite sequence).

Number 5

I got a book on Shakti mantras and am excited to dive in!  I’m headed to the beach tomorrow afternoon and expect to be reading lots of yoga texts and doing lots of chanting–along with playing cards and board games and watching horror movies with my Mom and sisters.  I’ll be sure and collect some nice shells for my altar while I’m there.

Bonus

This one isn’t witch-related, but I did get my Autumn Capsule Wardrobe figured out and have started transitioning some pieces in.  More info on my process and results will be coming soon.

What have you done to feel like a wild, weird, witchy goddess this week?

Moving Through Resistance

Moving Through Resistance | Whisper & HowlThese past few weeks I’ve been working on creating new, positive habits–specifically, establishing a morning routine.  I’ve mentioned that I want to become a morning person, and I’ve decided that I should be well on my way by my birthday, August 31st.  As of today that gives me 6 weeks to 1) break old habits and 2) establish a new pattern.

I wish this were easier.  It seems so simple and direct:

  • Determine a goal.
  • Figure out the steps required to achieve said goal.
  • Set an intention, move forward with purpose, think positively, yadda yadda.
  • Do it.  Goal accomplished.

That’s nothing, right?  Hah.

Of course, in this case I’m not just adding sweet morning habits to a morning devoid of habits.  I have to make time for them as well.  I have to wake up earlier in order to add these sweet, energizing activities.  I have to wake up and decide to stay awake.  This is the hard part.  This is where breaking the old habit comes in.  This is where the demon known as Resistance rears his sleepy, lackadaisical head, blinks his eyes, and goes back to sleep.  My mornings, therefore, are an epic struggle with this lazy monster who has reigned inside my head for far too long.

Resistance shows up often, manifesting as procrastination, frustration, depression, “I don’t waaaaannnaaaaa,” giving into the snooze alarm.  I remember it well from my childhood.  Although I didn’t know what to call it, I remember feeling a tightening in my chest, an almost physical inability to perform tasks I’d been asked to do such as putting dishes away or cleaning my room.  I felt it in a different way when it came time to practice piano, and I feel it now when I think about picking up my ukulele to learn new chords.  I didn’t know how to deal with this feeling when I was younger and I recall hot, unexplained tears, tantrums and time outs.  Fortunately, there are ways to cope that don’t result in hurling one’s self on the ground and screaming.

What To Do When Resistance Shows Up

1) Acknowledge It.  

When you notice the discomfort of resistance arising, recognize it for what it is.  Name it.  Acknowledge it.  Invite it in for tea. Naming the discomfort and acknowledging it loosens the knots it creates.  (This works for all kinds of discomfort.)

2) Contemplate It. 

Consider where the resistance comes from.  For example, if it’s time for me to practice my instrument and I am overcome with a physical sensation of stiffness in my chest, almost a feeling of anger or even just a dismissive thought that I’ll do it later, I can sit quietly for a moment, check in with myself and ask, “Why don’t I want to practice my instrument?  Am I frustrated by a particular piece or technique?  Am I afraid I will never learn it?  Am I falling short of my own perfectionism?  What happens if I allow myself to sit with the discomfort that arises when I practice, or simply the feeling of resistance?”

3) Move Through It, Gently. 

More often than not, when I sit with the discomfort, I realize its source and I can acknowledge that and move on.  Then the task at hand can be performed joyfully or at the very least, performed.

Through these practices, we can accomplish the goals we’ve been putting off.  In my case, I can wake up and stay awake, arise and begin establishing my positive morning habits.  I may need to program my alarm clock an extra 5 minutes early just to move through the resistance. Perhaps this, too, is part of my routine: step one, the first habit. Maybe this is a lesson in itself, to begin at the beginning.

How does Resistance show up for you?  Do you have any practices for moving through it?

 

I am not a morning person…yet.

This is not my life.

This is not my life…but it could be.

I just bought an expensive, fancy-pants natural light alarm clock.  It was kind of an impulse purchase and I’m on a tight budget, but I have no regrets.

You see, I am not a morning person…but I want to be.  Oh, do I want to be.  The thought of getting up as the sun rises, enjoying a steamy cup of coffee, which I lovingly made with fresh-ground beans and steeped to perfection in my French press; sitting on the front porch listening to the world waking up; letting Devo out to play as I write my Morning Pages; returning to my room, which I have plenty of time to keep clean, to practice yoga and meditation before I shower, leisurely put on my face and dry my hair, make my smoothie with care and do the dishes so I can return home to a neat and clean space….This is the stuff of my dreams.

The problem is, I have spent my whole life avoiding mornings.  I snooze for hours.  I take a shower and go back to bed for a “quick nap.”  I set my alarm as late as is feasible for getting to work on time, and I am rarely on time.  Whenever I get the chance to sleep late, I will stay in bed all morning.  For most of my life, the idea of getting up before 8 has made me cringe.  And yet…

I’ve changed.

Last year, my big Birthday Resolution was to become fiscally responsible, something that I’m still working on (and will be working on forever).  This year, I am focusing on balance.  In the past this has meant time-management, balancing work and play, how to get everything done and still stay sane.  However, I’m realizing that time-management is hardly possible in this day and age.  We are constantly plugged in, absorbing information, processing and working every minute of every day.  What has become important isn’t time, it’s energy. How do I balance my energy?  How do I choose where my focus goes, ignoring things that are not important, and maintaining mental and physical health?  How do I get through a day of work at an emotionally draining job and still have the energy, at the end of the day, to be a well-balanced, social person with interests and responsibilities (and part-time jobs) outside of my 9-5?

I believe becoming a morning person is a crucial step.  Having those extra hours in the morning to exist in my own personal space, to greet the day with joy and to set my intentions (and priorities) will add some calm and beauty to my life and increase my energy.  Snoozing, oversleeping and sleeping poorly are energy-suckers and can be bad for overall health.

I started this quest in December as I began The Artist’s Way, which demands that you spend 30 minutes each morning writing 3 pages.  I did this for the required 90 days and then I slid back into my old habits (for several reasons including health issues and my job, but that’s a story for another time).  Then I began researching tactics for arising early, sleeping better, and morning routines.  I invested in an ingenious sleep app that, sadly, has lots of glitches so I won’t recommend it here.  It helped me calculate the amount of time I needed to sleep and to adjust my bedtime accordingly, which was useful.  I got up early for about 2 weeks, and then started bringing my phone/alarm into bed with me…bad idea.  And so I have resolved to buy an alarm clock, a fancy-pants alarm that will wake me gradually so I can become the morning person I am meant to be!

I’ll be posting a lot on energy balance, my person quests and resolutions, and the practices I encounter and learn along the way–and I’ll let you know how this alarm works out.  If you have any advice, tips or tactics that work for you, please feel free to share!

Follow-up: This alarm clock is dope. It has definitely made waking up less of a jarring and traumatic experience and more of a natural, pleasant part of life. The sunset feature is also very relaxing and helps me as a “go to bed” timer.