229. Early Bird

I like mangal aroti. The time, the place, the silence, the prayers, the chanting, waiting for the early morning sun…and today was no different. After so many years, its still such a sweet time. A cherished part in our spiritual day yet difficult at times to stay committed. For me, its been on and off. But looks like I got the hang of it. Atleast for now…

From my experience, the key to making it to mangal aroti is light and early dinner, early to bed and a desire to wake up that early. If no desire, atleast a goal that you want to achieve. I suppose the true desire and enthusiasm will come in time. Latest 6pm dinner, 8pm bed and then 3:30am wake up should be easy.

Few times, I kept telling myself on the way to bed, ” get up by 3:30, get up by 3:30! Get up! Don’t be lazy ! “. In the early stages, I would have my mobile alarm for 2 different times so that incase I turn off the first in my attempt to sleep more, the 2nd one would be irritating enough to get me up. Another time, I kept the mobile far away from the bed, so that I would have to step out of bed and walk a little to grab the device.

Also, the days I have had a tough high pressure day at work means it gets difficult to fall asleep on time. In such days, I chant a few rounds to calm the mind or read Prabhupad lilamrita before retiring. Sometimes, I walk back home from work and this helps me to relax too.

Diet plays a huge role. Having heavy dinner laden with rice, subji with extra ghee, daal,sweets or fried items etc seems to slow down waking up. Actually, I just feel tired at that time when I should be feeling fresh after a heavy dinner the night before. So now I have switched to nutritious soups, salad and perhaps a chapati or a bread. Sufficient iron in the body also helps. Plenty of green leafy vegetables and additional organic iron supplement has made a difference.

Exercise. Yes..its important. I am not talking about a gym session. Just a simple walk squeezed into the day somewhere does wonders. Use stairs at work or home instead of elevators. Volunteer to carry things for people. Take breaks from the desktop instead of spending long hours at the computer. Besides health benefits, I find that such physical work gets the body wanting a rest by evening making it quickly possible to fall asleep.

So, I think its absolutely critical to ensure that we apply whatever means possible to wake up by 4am, attend mangal aroti or do the same at home, finish all 16 rounds and read Prabhupad books for atleast 30 mins. All this before 7:30am leaving one enough time to get ready for the day’s work.

When I read the bhagavatam and lilamrita, I can see how much Prabhupad stressed the need to wake up early. He wished and wanted all of us to be situated in such habits giving us all the much wanted strength to progress in our spiritual journey. Atleast, this desire of our beloved Prabhupad should keep me going to bed early and getting to temple early.

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