I’ve been trying some new things lately. It all started a few weeks ago when I scaled way back at my job. Results so far: awesome. Who knew 5:30 AM could be an appropriate time to wake up?
I gave notice at my job in late July so I could focus my energies on creative endeavors, and after some conversations decided to stay on part-time two days a week. I started the new work schedule and lifestyle after returning home from hiking the Wonderland Trail in the beginning of September.
While I was hiking, I came to a few things I wanted to try incorporating into my lifestyle, especially yoga and meditation. I had some ideas about the creative aspects as well, but hadn’t fleshed out how that was really going to work. So I started with the morning yoga on my first day back in town. I decided 7 AM was a reasonable time to wake up for it, but I found myself waking up earlier naturally from being on trail time. I also tacked on 15 minutes of meditation after my hour yoga session, figuring my mind would be in a good place for it then.
It has been wonderful. My body and mind feel completely ready for the day after stretching and clearing them both. My hamstrings and hips are getting to a place they’ve never been before, and my head feels correspondingly open and free. I’ve found that I love the morning, and that I want to see more of it. I pushed my wake-up time forward from 6:30 to 6:00, and now to 5:30 AM. The glow of sunrise just starts to come through the trees just when I’m transitioning from yoga to meditation. I’m adding a minute onto my meditation session each week, figuring I’ll be able to sit longer as I become more experienced with it. Even when I have trouble keeping my mind clear (most of the time), I come out of it feeling refreshed and content.
After meditation, I make a quick breakfast and sit down to do some writing. Sometimes this ends up being stream of consciousness, sometimes an outline of a longer piece I’ve been thinking about, and sometimes just a sketch of what’s on my mind. It feels really good to put some words on (virtual) paper, though, and I’m usually ready to move on by about 7:30 AM. I used to struggle to be awake by 7:30. Even if I have trouble finding productivity later on, I feel good about how my morning went and use that as a springboard for positivity and motivation. Of course, my evenings have been truncated a bit, but mostly I’ve lost movie-watching (I don’t have internet at home, so being distracted by Youtube videos and NYTimes articles is a thing of the past). Being in bed with a book by 9:30 PM feels terrific. Maybe I’ve turned into an old man in my quasi-retirement?
The rest of my endeavors have definitely benefited from having an early schedule. At any time of day, it as been easy to get my mind in a place to write, paint, or make music. The two days a week of work is perfect for keeping me disciplined and making my free time feel valuable. Having some rent money doesn’t hurt either. So, win-win.
I’m curious to see if I can keep up the energy and motivation, and what kind of long-term effects I might see from such a different lifestyle. I’ll let you know. Looking forward to it!