Sometimes it seems as if we have nothing to learn from those who have gone before us: their times were much different than ours today; they lived a simpler life and had less to worry about; people were more polite and kind; life for them wasn’t frenetic with rushing here and there; they didn’t have to deal with downsizing and layoffs from work; there wasn’t the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”.
The truth is that none of this is true.
Back in The Day, those who’ve gone before us were just as worried, stressed, frustrated, sleepy, lazy, selfish, sad; just as happy, optimistic, active, forward-thinking, kind, generous, achievement-oriented as we are today.
There’s very little difference, really.
Even the socio-economic and political landscapes are similar. There has always been strife and upheavals and, as long as there are still human beings around, there will always be strife and upheavals. But so there were—and there always will be—progress, breakthroughs, achievements, kindnesses, goodness in all forms, and celebrations.
The loved ones and the others who have gone before us still do have something to offer because they see through the “baloney” of Life to that which is True and Lasting.
It’s been a while since we talked about sitting in silence. I hope you’ve been keeping up with your practice. I find it to be so worthwhile to do, especially first thing in the morning, and I want that for you, too.
An added bonus is sometimes when my day isn’t going well, I’ll find a quiet place and sit for a few moments. It helps me regain my footing and remember that taking things step-by-step and doing my best at every moment will pay off.
I found the poem below and think it’s a good a reminder of a few of the benefits of sitting in silence:
ONLY BE STILL
‘Only be still, and in the silence grow,’
If thou art seeking what the gods bestow.
This is the simple, safe, and certain way
That leads to knowledge for which all men pray
Of higher laws to govern things below.
But in our restless discontent we go
With noisy importuning day on day—
Drowning the inner voice that strives to say
‘Only be still, and in the silence grow.’
We doubt, we cavil, and we talk of woe—
We delve in books, and waste our forces so;
We cling to creeds that were not meant to stay,
And close our ears to Truth’s immortal lay.
Oh wouldst thou see, and understand, and know?
‘Only be still, and in the silence grow.’
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox
It only takes a moment for the silence to work its wonders, although I recommend that you spend 15 – 20 minutes in silence.
Give it a try and let me know what you experience. Thanks!
Here’s what the ancients thought about rising early:
First thing every morning before you arise say out loud, ‘I believe,’ three times .–Ovid
It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom. -Aristotle
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. –Marcus Aurelius
The sun is new each day. -Heraclitus
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own — not of the same blood or birth, but of the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.–Marcus Aurelius
While I found several interesting articles on routines, I was surprised to see that most of them included making your bed as one of the mainstays. This led me to checking out what the experts have to say about morning bed making. Turns out it’s a keystone habit (a keystone habit is one that leads to the development of other good habits).
Who knew bed making was so important?! Well, sure, Mom knew…but still!! 😉
If Mom’s suggestion (threat?) isn’t enough to get you to make your bed, here are two articles that lay out excellent reasons why you should do it:
Yesterday we talked about James Allen’s explanation of why we should get up when our alarm clock first rings. He recommends rising early, even if you don’t have to. We mentioned a few things to do in the morning such as taking the time to contemplate sacred or inspirational writings, gentle exercise, or broadening our understanding of–and expertise in–the industry in which we are employed.
Just today I began reading the book Your Creative Mind: How to Disrupt Your Thinking, Abandon Your Comfort Zone, and Develop Bold New Strategies by Scott Cochrane. In this book he’s talking about creativity and how to develop it. The section of the book that stood out to me was “Chapter 3: Creative Power and the Power of Creation”. He lists several things a person can do to stimulate his/her inborn creativity. When I read the list, I realized many of the things he suggests are activities we can do in the morning during the time that James Allen suggests we take for ourselves.
These are the suggestions offered in the book by Scott Cochrane:
~Purge Negative Thoughts
This can easily and effectively be done while smiling at ourselves in the mirror as we brush our teeth, comb our hair, and tend to other personal grooming tasks. We can also do this as we shower and bathe for the day linking the activity with the imagining that we’re washing away unproductive, unhelpful thoughts and attitudes.
~Step into Bright Sunlight
This stimulates the production of seratonin and dopamine which, according to Scott Cochrane, are essential to fostering creativity. This can be incorporated into the morning walk or while doing Tai Chi or Yoga outside in the morning.
~Take Time for Music
Getting back to the instrument we played as a child or learning how to play an instrument for the first time are great workouts for our mind. It spurs creativity because our brains are working in ways they haven’t before. Doing this first thing in the morning can give us a reason to get out of bed right away as well as give us a sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning. This can then insulate us from the frustrations of the day.
These are just three of the several suggestions Scott Cochrane has made in the book so far. I thought these would be easy to incorporate into a morning routine. I haven’t finished reading the book yet and I expect there will be other points the author makes that I’ll want to share with you–stay tuned!
What activities will you add to your morning routine? Are they brand new or are they ones you’ve enjoyed in the past and are now bringing back into your life? Feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks!
James Allen states that there are beginnings we have no control over, for instance we may have been laid off from work and now we’re facing the beginning of unemployment and the process of looking for a new job. He advises to not focus on these beginnings, aside from taking care of our responsibilities, but rather to focus on the beginnings we have total and complete control over. He says that these types of beginnings are of vital importance because they create the complex web of results that then make up our life. He went on to say that these beginnings are controlled by our thoughts and mental attitudes, and the resulting daily conduct and actions we take.
According to James Allen, the first beginning to focus on—the easiest one to take control of—is the start of a new day, namely when your alarm clock first rings. He suggests answering these questions because “…much happiness or unhappiness depends upon the right or wrong beginning of the day…”:
~At what time does the alarm go off?
~Do we immediately get up?
~In what frame of mind do we enter the sacredness of a new day?
~How do we go about getting ready for the day?
One of his suggestions is to rise at an early hour, even if we don’t have to because this will help “…start the day strongly by shaking off indolence.”
Then this statement jumped out at me: “…How are you to develop strength of will in mind and body if you begin every day by yielding to weakness?”
He’s telling us to stop hitting the snooze button and to get up when our alarm first goes off.
I get his point that by hitting the snooze alarm, we aren’t really getting a few extra Zzzz’s—in fact researchers have shown that hitting the snooze alarm does not help; the “extra sleep” you get is not restful. James Allen is saying that when we hit the snooze alarm what we’re actually doing is telling our mind and body that it’s okay to procrastinate, it’s okay to indulge ourselves, it’s okay to go for instant gratification.
James Allen goes on to say: “Self-indulgence is always followed by unhappiness. People who lie abed until a late hour are never bright and cheerful and fresh but are the prey of irritabilities, depressions…and all unhappy moods.”
He then goes on to say that hitting the snooze alarm is like an alcoholic taking a nip in order to brace him/herself and steady his/her nerves for the upcoming issues in the day.
It’s our self-indulgence in hitting the snooze alarm that creates indolence and avoidance that is creating the issues–it’s our weaknesses and our pandering to our moods and emotions that are at the root cause of the issues that we’re avoiding!
James Allen adds: :…Men and women are totally unaware of the great losses which they entail by this common indolence (hitting the snooze alarm): loss of strength of both mind and body, loss of prosperity, loss of knowledge, and loss of happiness.
James Allen isn’t the only one who urges getting up early and getting up right away. Earl Nightingale, Brian Tracy, Wayne Dyer and other successful people join him in this. One of James Allen suggestions for this “extra time” is to take a gentle walk in Nature. Earl Nightingale, Brian Tracy, Wayne Dyer, and others advise filling the time with studying sacred and/or inspirational writings, studying the industry in which we work, and pursuing other avenues of self-development and education.
Usually I get up the first time the alarm rings. Occasionally, though, I’ve let myself sleep a little later, commonly on the weekends. I have noticed that James Allen’s statement is true: I seem to be a little less focused and less productive on the days I allow myself to catch up on my sleep. In fact, I had been wondering if it wouldn’t be better to get up at my normal time and take a short nap during the day if I need it. I guess James Allen’s answer would be YES!!!
This week’s challenge is to get up on time—when the alarm first rings. Let me know the differences you notice in your week. Feel free to leave your comments below. Thanks!