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“Honey get up! You’re missing the best part of the day”.

There she would stand clutching her very worn apron of faded periwinkles. I would struggle to sit up. With tousled hair through sleepy, half open eyes, I would plead with her.

“Grandma, why do we have to get up so early?”
“Because honey, this is when everything wakes up.”

Like a ritual, that scene would repeat throughout my childhood, my teenage years, and into adulthood. Until one day, I experienced my own awakening.

In ancient wisdom traditions, the two and a half hours before sunrise are called the ambrosial hours. They are the most life-nourishing hours. Modern science supports this with studies on circadian rhythms and how our bodies and minds are affected by the rhythms of nature. Circadian rhythms are controlled by an area of our brain called the hypothalamus. Within that area, 20,000 nerve cells are structured to act as our biological clock. All the living organisms of earth are affected by these rhythms and affect how we attune to nature.

Those early morning hours before daybreak contain the longest rays in the light spectrum. So long, they would wrap around one-tenth of the earth’s curvature. These rays contain volumes of information and are attuned to the theta waves in our brain. Theta waves connect us to creativity, intuition, stored memories, and emotions. They are strongest during periods of prayer and meditation, internal focus, and spiritual memories.

The benefits of rising early are numerous. Research studies show that early risers or “larks” as we are sometimes called, have more energy, are more productive, are better problem solvers, and possess a more positive outlook. We’re more organized and healthier by getting better sleep and exercise. Students make better grades.

Our culture is filled with high-performing, well-known people who are early risers. Richard Branson, Jeff Weiner, Oprah Winfrey, and Jack Dorsey are just a few names on a very long list of highly successful “larks”. The best-selling book, The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma, has even created its own culture around getting up before dawn. And let’s not forget those cliches, “Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” or the shout out to us larks, “The early bird gets the worm”.

When I am teaching meditation, one question I can count on being asked is “What is the best time to meditate?” My answer is always “The best time to meditate is when you will do it”. But joking aside, early morning hours are the best time to meditate. When you first wake up, your mind is unencumbered by the day’s events. You are better prepared to navigate the day’s challenges with clarity and confidence. You’re less likely to put off meditating or have it be affected by an unpredictable schedule.

Meditation was responsible for turning me into a lark. It ushered in my own awakening of sorts; the sort that the woman who was the beacon of my life had tirelessly, lovingly tried to instill in me. The day came when Grandma no longer woke up early. Mostly, she slept. Then finally, on the afternoon of February 12, 2011, she took her last breath.

My morning ritual now looks like getting up by or shortly before 5 a.m. I don’t even have to set an alarm. My circadian rhythms don’t fail me. I make a cup of green tea, sit in my rocking chair on the porch in the dark and listen. Her voice is crystal clear calling to me as she did at the door for so many years. Now, I can answer her.

“Grandma, I’m up and I’m witnessing the best part of the day.”

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