by Acharya Shunya: Excerpted from Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom…
The science of Ayurveda recommends waking up while it is still dark outside. A serene beauty and stillness envelop the Earth at this time. Though it is still dark out, the early morning darkness seems to be softer than nighttime, almost as if it’s infused with a divine light. And rising this early benefits your body, mind, and spiritual practice.
As individual beings, we share an inherent relationship with our environment. So when light begins to spread across the sky, our minds, too, begin to experience hope and courage.
When we gaze at the sky at this time, we know, deep in our hearts, that the sun will be here soon, and the dark night will be consumed by the spreading light, taking with it the fears, doubts, and ignorance that enveloped us as we slept. When we witness the transformation from dark to light, from night to dawn, there is a stirring of hope and a spiritual presence in our subconscious being, which begins to reveal itself, banishing ignorance and infusing our consciousness with divine illumination and intuitive knowledge.
For me, the early mornings are magical. At this time, the darkness of the night is slowly dissipating, and the light of the sun, even before it has tangibly announced its bold presence in the sky, is making its subtle but commanding presence felt. I cannot yet see the light, but I can sense the light in my heart, wherein dwells that one consciousness that connects us with the sun, moon, and Earth and all that we know and also all that we cannot fathom with our ordinary senses. It is during this time of outer stillness and inner silence that you can most easily connect to Brahman, the universal truth, and the one reality that is immutable and absolute.
One beautiful morning when I was about six, Baba said to me, “Come, little Shunya, let us resolve every day to be awake for the breaking dawn, and let us rejoice in all its breathtaking, electric magnificence.” Baba would often talk to me on our way back home from the river, and on that day, he explained how the early morning sun distributes blessings, including the gifts of health, wisdom, and peace for all of Earth’s creatures, big and small. I liked this idea of gifts; it reminded me of receiving presents on my birthday and on Diwali (the Hindu festival of spiritual lights). My grandfather must have known this because he added, “But these gifts are different. These gifts are invisible, and you open them for the rest of your life.”
That was enough for me.
Over the years, I would try my best to internalize Baba’s words because he never repeated himself. Even when I was too young to understand his words, his eyes would share an invitation to be happy by simply rising before dawn. Four decades later, as I write these words about the benefits of waking up early, I remember Baba’s eyes being lit by the first rays of the sun.
Ayurveda’s lifestyle begins each day with an ancient ritual of positive affirmation. In my own traditional school, Vedika Global, over the last ten years, incoming students have reported a leap in their consciousness within days of learning this ritual of self-affirmation. These students thank me for the gifts they have received through this prayer, but I offer thanks to my teacher, Baba, who showed me the way.
At any time of day, a positive affirmation will raise our mental energy. When such a ritual is done during brahma muhurta, however, the rising sattva in the macrocosm mirrors its golden reflection in our own minds and tunnels a great pathway to the source of our very beings, connecting us to our divine potential.
Through this morning ritual, Baba taught me how to access my inner divinity and its limitless powers. “Yes, little Shunya,” Baba said to me, “the divine exists in the depths of your own being. Evoke it daily from the depths of your being through this ritual, and once connected with your inner divinity, recognize the same divinity in the Self of every being you encounter. Your day will be lit up with the light of a thousand suns by this recognition. Move through the living present with this constant divine awareness guiding you.”
As I would chant the special mantra that accompanies this ritual, a little shiver would go up and down my spine. I was remembering, through this prayer, that the divine powers of the universe, known as Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga (the goddesses of abundance, wisdom, and personal power), dwell in my own being, literally accessible in the palms of my own hands.