Time and Daily Practices

pre-dawn

I was recently reading materials about meditation and came across a reference to a concept that in some of the Vedic traditions is called ‘Brahmamuhurta’ (Time of Brahma) and in Sikhism is called ‘Amrit Vela’ (Ambrosial Hours). And while this specific idea comes from outside of my own tradition per se (though I know there are rough equivalents, minus some of the details), I found it rather intriguing, saw no conflict with my path and thought there might even be some potential benefits involved. I decided to give it a try.

The gist of the idea is that a most auspicious time for daily sadhana is early in the morning, during pre-dawn hours (typically the window is presented as being between 3 am to 6 am local time). I am typically not a morning person at all. In fact, due to the conditioning of my work schedule over the course of many years I would normally still be awake around this time. You can say my internal clock has been all out of whack for a Very Long Time. About a week ago I decided to give it a reset and see what happens. I chose 4 am as the target.

Initially I had to set my alarm. It took some adjustment. For example, the very first attempt I had only been asleep for about two hours or so when 4 am rolled around. The alarm went off (buzz, buzzZZ, BUZZZZZZ). I was admittedly a bit cranky and thought to myself, ‘What am I doing?’ I almost hit the snooze button, rolled over and went back to sleep. But I didn’t. I sat up. I adjusted my motivation. I thought of my precious guru. I recited a short refuge prayer that I memorized some time back. My crankiness dissipated. I got out of bed. I gathered the items for my daily practice (a khata I wear, some incense to burn as an offering, a sadhana text, etc.) and prepared everything. I sat down on my meditation cushion, burned some incense and proceeded with a 20 minute session of shamatha followed by a short lamrim meditation and finally an hour of sadhana. I survived morning 1 with no scars or bruises. I ate a light breakfast – some fruit and toast – and went back to sleep for a few hours. The practice went really well. I was in the flow. The quiet time was ideal for contemplation and it really set intention that stuck with me for the rest of the day. I said to myself, ‘I think I can do this morning thing for a while’.

Since that first day I have managed to follow this pattern for almost every day since. There was a day when I wasn’t able to fall asleep but when 4 am came around, I just did my practice as if I was waking up. After a few days I began to wake up without the alarm. Depending on my schedule and other circumstances in my life I will sometimes stay awake after practice and other times take a short nap. I have also found that my dreams have been more vivid and I am able to recall more of them than usual. In addition, I’ve noticed that incorporating some study time after practice and a light breakfast has been very edifying. I seem to be understanding whatever topics I am researching more easily and retaining the information longer. Granted, I am only a week in to doing this, but the changes are noticeable enough that I will persist.

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