“How about thinking about the Sixth Ritual for Radiant Living: the Ritual of Early Awakening.”
“Uh-oh. I think I know what’s coming.”
“One of the best pieces of advice I learned in that far-off oasis of Sivana was to rise with the sun and to start the day off well. Most of us sleep far more than we need to. The average person can get by on six hours - and remain perfectly healthy and alert. Sleep is really nothing more than a habit and like any other habit, you can train yourself to achieve the result you want; sleeping less in this case.”
“But if I get up too early, I really do feel exhausted,” I said.
“For the first few days, you will feel very tired.I’ll freely admit this. You might even feel this way for the first week of getting up nice and early. Please see this as a small measure of short-term pain for a large measure of long-term gain. You will always feel a little discomfort when you are installing a new habit. It’s sort of like breaking in a new pair of shoes - at first it’s a little hard to wear them but soon they fit like a glove. As I told you earlier, pain is often the precursor to personal growth. Don’t dread it Instead, embrace it.”
“Okay, I like the idea of training myself to get up earlier. First, let me ask you what does ‘early’ mean?”
“Another fine question. There is no ideal time. Just like everything else I have shared with you so far, do what is right for you. Remember Yogi Raman’s admonishment: ‘nothing to extremes, everything in moderation.’”
“Getting up with the sun sounds extreme.”
“Actually it isn’t. There are few things more natural than rising with the glory of the first rays of a new day. The sages believed that sunshine was a gift from Heaven and while they were careful not to overexpose themselves, they regularly had sunbaths and often could be seen dancing playfully in the early morning sunshine. I firmly believe that this was another key to their extraordinary longevity.”
“Do you sunbathe?” I asked.
“Absolutely. The sun rejuvenates me. When I grow tired it keeps my mood bright. In the ancient culture of the East, the sun was thought to be a connection to the soul. People worshipped it as it allowed their crops to flourish along with their spirits. Sunlight will release your vitality and restore your emotional and physical vibrancy. It is a delightful physician, when visited in moderation of course. Alas, I digress. The point is to get up early, every day.”
“Hmm. How do I build this ritual into my routine?”
“Here are a couple of quick tips. First, never forget that it is the quality and not the quantity of sleep that is important. It is better to have six hours of uninterrupted deep sleep than even 10 hours of disturbed sleep. The whole idea is to provide your body with rest so that its natural processes can repair and restore your physical dimension to its natural state of health, a state that is diminished through the stresses and struggles of daily use. Many of the habits of the sages are based on the principle that one must strive for quality rest rather than quantity sleep.