The way we begin our day sets the tone for the whole day. In today’s modern culture it is not surprising that we have lost touch with the art of waking up, much the way we have lost touch with the art of Living. It is not uncommon for a modern human being to awaken to the sound of an alarm from a smartphone, reach over to turn it off, and instantly begin checking social media, email accounts or news streams. Switching the mind on to full blast directly from deep sleep. A bit of a shock to the nervous system! No judgements here, after all Everything is Sacred, and the way things have become simply Is. Still, many of us are desiring a deeper experience of Life, and re-programming our wake-up routine can serve the flowering of this desire. Read on if this is you.
Ayurveda, being the Knowledge of Life after all, has many insights into how to awaken the body-mind-spirit complex in an optimal way. This begins with the time of day one wake’s up. Optimally, the human would rise between 3 and 6 am. (okay, hold on, give it a chance before throwing your phone down and throwing Ayurveda the bird.) The early hours just before dawn are recognized to be the time when all the energy lines of the universe are open, providing the ideal time for yogic practice and meditation. Many of us will not adopt the practice of going to bed at 9pm and waking up at 4am, but we can certainly aim to adjust our schedules to reflect this general concept. Rising early, either just before the sun or with it, tunes us into the rhythm of Solar manifestation, and links us with the natural cycle of time.
Okay so, regardless of whether it’s 4am, 7am or noon that you’re rising up to seize the day the rest of these tips can still be integrated. First, rather than reaching for your phone, switch your alarm tone to something that can rest calmly in the background while you softly bring your consciousness out of dreamtime. Begin by tuning into your breathing, taking 3-10 slow, deep, conscious breaths. Connect to the rhythm of your breathing, the connection you have to the space all around you, as you breathe yourself alive. In every moment.
Next, gently sit up, cross your legs or let your legs stretch out in front of you. Take a gentle mental scan of your body from head to toe, feeling into every part of your physical self. Consider how you feel, without judgement. Then bring your hands together and rub your palms into one another to create friction, heat and energy. Once you’ve gathered a connection to the energy in your hands, gently place your palms over your closed eyes and breathe energy into your eyes. Perhaps say inwardly to yourself “May I see the world through Loving vision.”
If you are so blessed to be waking up next to another Human Being, try giving them the most loving kiss and caress you can imagine. As though you are giving a God or Goddess your greatest respect and reverence. This may take your morning routine for a de-tour, but I’d say that would be a welcome ceremony for the soul.
Okay, you’re centred in the recognition that you are a spirit-body-mind magical creature intrinsically connected to your environment. Already such a palpable shift to the effect of scrolling through Instagram! Next, walk your beautiful body to the bathroom, relieving bladder and bowel as is natural. Never force a movement, and never suppress one. Wash your hands and give your face a rinse with cold fresh water. Imagine you are blessing your face with pure consciousness, because, well, you Are!
Next, try out the Ayurvedic practice of Oil Pulling. Take a couple teaspoons of coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil and swoosh it around in your mouth for 5-20 minutes while you rinse your body in the shower or perhaps unstack the dishrack. Oil pulling cleanses the mouth, pulling bacteria that has accumulated over the night in the mouth into the oil, which you then spit out. The oil will become cloudy. I suggest spitting it in the garbage, and not down the sink, as it can clog the pipes.
Following your oil pulling experience, give your tongue a gentle scrape. If you haven’t tried tongue scraping, give it a shot and it is basically like going black…in that you never go back. The sludge you will likely find that slides off your tongue is essentially a thick coating of bacteria that your body has spent the night removing from the rest of you and placing on your tongue for easy exit. This practice also gives you a daily check-in with your tongue, which provides important feedback to the digestive health. If you’ve got a thick coating consistently it can mean you are not digesting your food well, and have high levels of toxins in your body (called ama in ayurveda). Just try it, you’ll need little convincing of the benefits once you do. You can then brush your teeth, preferably with a herbal paste or powder. Follow your oral hygiene with a glass of plain room temperature water. Try sipping a teaspoon of warm ghee if you really want to go full Ayurveda wizard mode. You can even apply a drop of ghee to all your nine holes (I’ll let you figure out the nine holes your body has) if you want to risk living forever.
The next part is definitely optional (okay, right, they all are…!), and can be done daily, every other day, or just once a week. Particularly depending on your constitution. Warm up some organic sesame oil, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil, and give yourself a full body oil massage. Start at your feet and work your way up your legs, over your hips and genitals, belly, chest, arms, hands, and slide back up to your neck and shoulders, ears and face. You can even give yourself a head massage if you don’t mind a bit of oil in your hair. Self massage is an amazing way to connect to your body with Love, and a way to oleate your skin (your largest organ). Use your intuition, explore and express your ability to feel what your body wants, and focus on bringing circulation to the extremities.
Following your massage, dedicate some amount of time to meditation and/or gentle yoga practice. Whether it is 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, 2 hours or 4 hours like a full Sadhu, the key is that you are dedicating some amount of time to centring yourself in your Being. Personally I like to begin with chanting in Sanskrit to align myself with the Yogis and Sages who brought me Ayurveda and Yoga, practice yogic postures (asanas) as a moving meditation, do some breathing yoga (pranayama) and then rest and meditate in savasana or in a seated position for awhile until my mind stops reaching for tasks to plan to accomplish and I fully sense my True Self.
After your practice, you may want to shower off the oil if it’s a day you’ve given yourself a massage and you don’t like oil on for the day. I like to leave the oil on my skin, letting it soak in for the day.
Now you’re ready for breakfast. Ayurveda suggests eating your breakfast between the hours of ~8 – 10am. Choose something warm, grounding, nourishing and simple to digest. Your first meal is the way you break your fast. I like to think of it as though I am stoking the fire after the night of it burning down to just a few embers. Like when living with a wood burning stove, you can’t just toss a big log onto the last remaining embers and expect the fire to digest it well. Hence, avoid smoothies, fruit, and especially the common fruit and yogurt combo. Dairy and fruit eaten together don’t digest harmoniously and produce ama (toxins). Cold food is essentially like a big log, stressing out the digestive fire. I like oatmeal with a few nuts and dates, hemp seeds and a little bit of maple syrup. If I’m feeling the need for some excitement some eggs or cashew butter on toast, or some fried grated carrot with diced apple cooked with cinnamon are some of my go-to’s. If you like coffee, make sure you enjoy that after you’ve got something in your belly to coat the sensitive lining of your central channel.
There you go! You’re ready to seize the rest of your day. Depending on your interpretation of the protocol it may be 2pm by now. So you best get on with your to-do list 😉 !