The Awakening of Waking Up Early. ~ Ripa Ajmera

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 Harmony and Nature: Meeting the Sun

One of the greatest gifts I have received from the amazing art and science of Ayurveda is connecting with the abundant blessings of nature early each morning. Ayurveda is all about restoring our harmony with nature. In Ayurveda, we understand “nature” as both the macrocosm (the wider world we inhabit), and the microcosm (our internal world of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations). Ayurveda teaches us that we are eternally connected to one another, and to our universe at large. Therefore, in understanding our innermost nature, we can gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the world around us.

The ancient Rishis (sages) from India spent entire lifetimes living in remote woods to learn directly from Mother Nature some of her most jealously guarded secrets. From the depth of their meditations, they discovered that there are three gunas, or qualities, that pervade the entire universe.

Tamas guna can be best characterized by the triple Ds (that we DON’T want!): darkness, depression, and denial. Tamas is like a thick covering that veils the world around us with a dark, heavy cloak of negativity. Tamas is essentially inertia. It governs the realm of the unconscious mind, and is responsible for addictions and many criminal activities.

Rajas guna is connected with action, passion, and motion. We need this guna to counteract the force of tamas. Rajas, out of balance, however, can cause anger, violence, anxiety, and ultimately exhaustion, which naturally leads into tamas.

Sattva guna is the quality we are all, consciously or unconsciously, seeking. Sattva guna is associated with clarity, purity, peace, balance, harmony, health, happiness, and universal love. Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedanta explain that the nature of the soul encased within each being is sattva. The true nature of even the darkest criminal is sattva.

One of the best ways I’ve learned to counteract depression, connect with nature, and increase sattva guna in my own life is by waking up early. Rising during what is called as Brahmamuhurta (between 4-6am) helps destroy the twin demons of rajas and tamas. This is because Brahmamuhurta has been known by Yogis since time immemorial to be a spiritually elevated and charged time when sattva guna is dominant in the universe.

Ayurveda and its sister science of Yoga teach us how deeply our lives are interconnected with the Sun’s cycles. We are all solar powered creatures, and thus, we learn from Ayurveda the importance of sleeping early (ideally by 10pm) so that we can rise early to greet the Sun. The Sun (called “Surya” in Sanskrit) is a symbol of the strength, light, and power of one’s own soul. Every morning, since ancient times, Yogis have performed various rituals honoring the external Sun, as it reflects the eternal, which is really internal—the soul within is what we seek to connect with in this lifetime.

I have been fortunate to learn many profound Sun worship rituals from my Ayurveda teacher. One of these is an ancient ritual called Sandhya Vandanam, which is performed each morning to honor the Sun. In practicing Sandhya Vandanam regularly, I can feel the powerful impact it has had, and continues to have, on my mind, body, and emotions, and in connecting me with my own soul.

In the Indian spiritual tradition, we believe that the purpose of our human birth is to realize who we really are—which is the eternal soul, as reflected by the light of the Sun. Waking up before the sun, to prepare to greet the external manifestation of our internal, eternal soul, is a wonderful way to connect with the light within ourselves. Connecting with our own light enables us to start to see and connect with the light within others—and thus the beginning of heaven on earth! We start to see that no one is our enemy any longer—only a reflection of our true selves. A paradigm shift begins to occur, over time.

For those who may be feeling inspired to start waking up early, but are intimidated by the idea of rising between 4-6am (I was!), I recommend transitioning in stages. Sudden, dramatic change is generally unsustainable—so start slowly. Try going to sleep 15-30 minutes earlier tonight, so you can wake up 15-30 minutes earlier, and keep steadily working your way back.

I receive so many blessings and continue to feel a deeper part of myself awakening from rising early each day that I can’t ever even imagine going back to my former night owl life. I thus would love to invite you to join me in this exciting journey of awakening from waking up early.

Wishing abiding health, harmony, and happiness to one and all.

 

Relephant Links:

5 Top Health Questions with Ayurveda’s Dr. John Douillard.

The Seven Gifts of Ayurveda.

What We Didn’t Know About the Seasons & Ayurveda.

 

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Editorial Assistant: Edith Lazenby / Editor: Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: San Francisco Chronicle via Flickr

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Ananta Ripa Ajmera

Ananta Ripa Ajmera is author of “The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World’s Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Less Stress, Optimal Digestion, and More” (Storey Publishing, 2017). She is a Certified Ayurveda Health Practitioner and Yoga Instructor who continues to study closely with Acharya Shunya, a renowned master teacher whose lineage extends back to ancient India. She serves as Director of Branding and Yoga Studies at Vedika Global, a foundation Acharya Shunya established to awaken health and consciousness with Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta. She has taught Ayurveda at Stanford School of Medicine’s Health Improvement Program, California Department of Public Health, UNICEF, Mother Earth News Fair, NY Insight Meditation Society, NYU, SFSU, and is certified to teach Ayurveda staff trainings at all prisons and police departments in California. Ananta has spoken at ABC News, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), Columbia Business School, UC Berkeley, Silicon Valley’s Health Technology Forum, and the Social Innovation Summit. Her work has been featured on Fox 5 News, Good Day NY, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, and Elephant Journal. She graduated from NYU Stern Business School, where she received an honors degree in marketing and was a Catherine B. Reynolds Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship. Learn more at Whole Yoga & Ayurveda.

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anonymous Aug 5, 2014 11:36pm

3 days out of the week I wake at 4:30 am for work. On my days off I got into the habit of sleeping later, sometimes not rising until 9am. And I feel the difference and it is a feeling that lingers all day. Sluggish, often depressed and tired. Granted on work days it can be challenging those first few moments but once I start moving I can actually feel myself get energized. I started getting up early, by at least 5:30am, on my days off and find I accomplish more, I am in better spirits, and my thoughts are clear.

    anonymous Sep 12, 2014 9:17pm

    Dear Marsis,

    Thanks for sharing about your experiences with waking up early. Yes, it is amazing, indeed, to note the difference between rising at 9am and between 4:30-5:30am…and yes, it can be challenging in those first few moments. It is very helpful to splash some cool water on the eyes and feet to help the awakening process and to cultivate more Sattva in the morning.

    With blessings,
    Ananta Ripa

anonymous Jun 25, 2014 5:17am

Dear Ripa-ji,

Pranam. Your article is inspiring! Will keep trying to set the clock back step by step to 'brahma-muhuratam'. Need your blessings for that.

I can't imagine where I would have slumped without these ancient wisdom. Likewise, I want it to reach the needy and hence I have started compiling articles on yoga and meditation. I refer your articles. Need your permission 'kripa' and 'asheervaad' for this endevour.

Bowing down,
Vinay

    anonymous Sep 12, 2014 9:14pm

    Dear Vinay,

    Many blessings for waking up at Brahmamuhurta time and for your intention to reach the needy with this amazing ancient wisdom. May your intentions blossom and benefit many.

    Feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any specific questions or would like some connections.

    Warmly,
    Ananta Ripa

anonymous May 8, 2014 2:03pm

Thank you so much, Janne! Would love to read your poem of gratitude for the morning…I, too, have been loving your feed, Janne. So glad we are connected thru the world wide web of elephant!

Love,
Ripa

anonymous May 8, 2014 12:58am

I began to write a poem of gratitude for the morning today! I am a nighthawk from working many years slinging drinks to pay for plane tickets. I love morning, it's like a lover I have yet to be acquanited with- timing isn't ever right 😉 I found this very interesting and inspiring to wake up tomorrow early!

Loving your feed Ripa.

warmly,

Janne

anonymous Mar 25, 2014 1:45am

I myself am on the journey to wake up around 5:30. I was achieving it, and loving it, until my chinese medicine practioner said that due to ill health i should try getting longer sleeps for a while. Now however I’m ready to start again. I feel that it makes sense to be in sync with the cycles of night and day, light and dark. I also feel an affinity with the sun rising, what a wonderful way to start the day. It’s hard to move around in the house though when other people are still sleeping for a few hours so I might devote the time to light yoga and then my reading and writing. Thanks for sharing your warmth. Namaste.

    anonymous Mar 25, 2014 9:47am

    Dear Chantelle,

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I have also gone through a similar experience of needing more sleep in the morning when I was regaining my health a few years ago, and know how you feel ~ I am happy you are feeling ready to start waking up early now.

    It's so amazing how much illumination comes through during those morning hours. Light Yoga, reading, and writing are ideal activities for the early morning time ~ it's great to spend that first part of the day immersed in uplifting things that set the tone for the rest of your day.

    Many blessings to you,
    Ripa

anonymous Mar 24, 2014 3:28pm

Thank you Ripa, there is so much light and truth in your words. I cherish those hours and use them for meditation, writing, cooking and other creative activities that set the tone for my day. Although I am familiar with some basic concepts, I must learn more about Ayurveda, any suggestions would be welcome. Love, light and laughter.

    anonymous Mar 25, 2014 9:43am

    Dear Peter,

    I appreciate your kind words and am happy to hear that you spend time in meditation and other creative activities during the early morning hours.

    If you live in the SF Bay Area, I would highly recommend coming to Vedika Global (www.vedikaglobal.org), which is the school where I both study and teach. We have many upcoming classes (http://www.vedikaglobal.org/events/index.html), including a Stress Management With Ayurveda and Yoga Workshop, a special Surya Namaskar Yoga for Atmabodha Series, and our popular 2-Month Self-Care Course.

    Our Vedika Global Blog (http://vedikaglobalblog.com) also has wonderful articles written by our students, teachers, and graduates, about all different aspects of Ayurveda, so that is another great place to get started, along with viewing our videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/vedikaglobal).

    If you'd like to learn more about how to apply Ayurveda to your own life, feel free to send me an email at [email protected]. I'd be happy to consult with you via Skype if you are not local to the SF Bay Area and/or to add your email to a newsletter I'm planning to put together to let people know about my latest writings on Ayurveda and Yoga. I also plan to start contributing more articles to Elephant Journal, so you can sign up for my RSS feed here soon, too.

    Many blessings on your journey,
    Ripa

anonymous Mar 24, 2014 9:39am

Thanks Ripa for this inspiring article!

    anonymous Mar 24, 2014 12:28pm

    Dear Julie,

    It is my pleasure to share one of the joys of my life – thank you for your kind words.

    Blessings,
    Ripa

anonymous Mar 23, 2014 8:57pm

Thank you so much for this, Ripa. I have just committed to waking at 5am this week to see what magic lies in these early hours. This will be a big change for me. Your article inspires me to follow through with my commitment.

    anonymous Mar 23, 2014 10:18pm

    Dear Zoe,

    I am so happy to hear that reading this article inspires you to experience the magic of the early morning! I hope you will share your experiences, as whenever we share, we are able to strengthen our intentions and benefit others in the process, which allows us to grow even more.

    Many blessings,
    Ripa

anonymous Mar 23, 2014 2:20pm

I have just begun to wake up one hour early every morning to write in my journal. I find it gives me time to get in touch with my mind in the silence of early morning as well as get my day off to a slower, calmer start. While it is hard to get up sometimes, it is a ritual that is slowly becoming habit and I enjoy it very much. Thank you for the article. It is nice to know I am doing something right.

    anonymous Mar 23, 2014 10:14pm

    Dear Stefanie,

    Thank you for your kind comments. It is wonderful to hear about your morning ritual of writing and basking in the sweetness of silence. I also find that my best writing often emerges in the early mornings.

    The beautiful thing about knowing why good habits are good is that they anchor us ~ even when we are unable to follow them all the time, we can come back to them sooner whenever we stray from them, and they support us so much. That has definitely been my experience.

    Many blessings,
    Ripa