Why do you wake up in the morning? What energizes you to come out of bed and start the day? Or, what do you do in the morning after you wake up to put yourself in a positive mood to start the day?
I tend to have a difficult time waking up in the morning. Usually I miss several alarm clocks, and sleep in longer than I should. And only when I recall that there is something important I have to take care of, I would stumble out of my bed merely to start that day in a rush. But I have come to notice that when a day is started in a rush, during the rest of the day too, that negative impulse lingers. And when the day can be started in a positive relaxed spirit, I feel that I have more alertness and awareness for the things I do during that day.
Long have I looked for methods and reasons why starting the day is so difficult. I ought to be eager to wake up since the things I do and the projects I run give me tremendous joy and gratification, but for some reason I don’t seem to remember those sentiments when another dawn breaks.
A while ago I stumbled upon a book on Anthroposophy by Rudolf Steiner in which he pointed out that “sleep is a little death.” This sentence intrigued me so that I looked for further explanation, and what followed felt as if it perfectly explained my personal situation. His explanation is as follows: “It is memory that forms the continuity between consciousness from one day to the next. […] It is the remnant of memory that persists and is transformed between incarnations.” During sleep we die, which means that consciousness and spirit is lost, and only the self and the remnant of memory remain. When we wake up the self returns to the physical body, but everything else is reset, apart from our memory. As we wake up, we rely on our memory to give us indication of the directions for that day.
“If we think about this simply, even after our death the world continues to exist, and on that world the people who are still alive continue to live their lives. It is those men and women that give existence to that world. By “to give existence,” I mean that it is through the consciousness of those people that this world is being given form. However, if we think of this more strictly, my consciousness that has disappeared together with me is now not defining anything. In other words, from the perspective of the dead me, the world has now gone extinct. Let’s put the things in order. When I am asleep without dreaming, the world is gone; or when under anesthetics too, the world disappears. In the morning, when we open our eyes, or when the anesthetics wear out and our consciousness returns, the world surrounding us comes back to us.”
This paragraph I have taken the liberty to translate from a Japanese lecturer on Steiner’s teachings. I have quoted it here because I think it explains very well what happens when we sleep and how that affects us when we wake up. During our sleep, we were gone, and the world was gone, and when we wake up everything reappears, but it takes us to rely on our previous memory of things to get back on our feet.
For me, this has helped me to better understand that when I am still in bed, and even for some time when I have gotten out of bed, why I continue to wander around the house purposelessly. Only when I have regained understanding of the importance of the projects I am running, or the tasks I have on my to do list, I find the courage to step back in the start blocks, and conduct my daily activities with my purpose clearly before my eyes.
Steiner’s brief but powerful explanation has shown me that my problem was caused by the time it took to delve into my memory and dig up my purpose in life. I also figured that if I can speed up the process somehow, I am able remember my mission and energize myself quicker. So, I put a very simple mechanism in place that would help me do so, and it works. It is something I enjoy doing immensely, and I need no reminder to do this. I sit down, and make myself a cup of tea, then sip it and enjoy it.
The next thing I do is to take a notebook, and write my vision, mission, and the one single most import task I want accomplished that day down. This exercise usually instantly aligns me with my purpose and brings the memory of the fulfilling things I do back. Having a morning practice, or a ‘morning ritual’ as some may call it, like this one has saved me hours in my life wandering around without purpose, or staying in bed for no particular good reason. Should you have a morning practice? That is up to you, and depends on what you need in the morning or how you want your life to look like. I feel that it also helps to break bad habits, and start the day with the awareness that you are going to do something to change them.
What I can recommend though is to have tea in the morning. Starting the day with a cup of tea is a splendid way to get energized. Tea isn’t only just a healthy drink that, if consumed regularly, can help maintain and benefit your health; it is also just the right energizer for the morning. Coffee, however, is said to contain a higher amount of caffeine, and therefore provides a much stronger boost in the morning. Tea on the other hand, contains less caffeine – and green tea even less than black tea – and therefore the effect becomes apparent only slowly. Moreover, since tea also contains theanine, this slows the intake of caffeine down further. Nevertheless, several steepings of green tea can just as well put you in the right mood to start the day positively. While caffeine wakes you up and raises your alertness, theanine relaxes the nerves and softens the mind.
We already live in such a hectic world, overflowing with stimuli and impulses. Perhaps it isn’t necessary to pep us up more than necessary. Tea just stimulates us enough to in a relaxed mood begin the day with a clear view. And as I briefly mentioned above, when we start the day in a rush, it is difficult to break that state of mind during the remainder of the day. Therefore I see great benefit in starting the morning in a slower, healthy and focused way, and if this moment can be combined with clearly aligning you with your purpose, I can only believe that you are headed for immense success.