Its a magical time of day.
The Hindus call this time Brahmamuhurta, it is a time which is very suitable for meditation as the mind is still and calm.
I believe that this is a time just before your mind falls into the regular grooves and ruts of thinking. If you currently wake with the taste of anxiety in your mouth. If habitual patterns have a hold on your perspective. If you have tried everything to shake yourself out of what you know are destructive ways of thinking – yet have been unsuccessful. Then try this because it works for me.
When I meditate I don’t do anything special. I set the timer for 30 minutes (so my brain wouldn’t constantly request to know how long we had been doing this for and how long to go and etc etc) A few deep breaths. Body scan to ensure I was relaxed and then basically I just watch my thoughts. If there are a lot of thoughts and they keep leading me off in different directions then I start labelling them. Labelling them simply as anxiety, fear, planning and so on tends to release their power to distract me. Of course I still wander off sometimes and then I catch myself and come back to the breath – the observation of what is coming to the surface.
It is a sacred time, a special time. Which has quickly become a necessity.
We are so busy the rest of the day and even though I have always been an early riser – around 5.30am or so – I feel an obligation to use that time for exercise.
I don’t feel the same compulsion to fill this hour at 3.30am – it is a space full of pure potential and a time carved out just for time with your own mind and soul. Too early for noise. Impractical for anything save the quietest contemplation. If you’re still tired or just peaceful then go back to sleep afterwards for awhile. Because you have purposefully interrupted the mind – it does not fall back into those common grooves and your sleep will have a different quality to it. This has been my experience so far.
You may be wondering how it breaks habitual thought.
This is how it is helping me.
It has been a difficult year. I am going through things that I haven’t gone through for a long time. However when I last experienced similar circumstances – I wore a groove of worry in my mind. Even though I know that these thoughts are unhelpful, untrue and actually damaging – I can’t help thinking them. Like a song that gets stuck in your brain – an earworm. Around and around these thoughts go. I intervene – I cajole, I try and turn them around and when all else fails – I distract myself into thinking other thoughts.
Yet they circle and always come back and when my guard is down they slip beneath the wire and invade my mind. The habitual tune – back in the brain and then it sings to me all day.
Meditation wasn’t working. Instead it seemed to be a doorway to even great volumes of internal noise. The loudest of which were the things I felt strongly about – the things I resisted. Which were of course the very things I was trying to get rid of.
Once I was awake was too late – I needed to get ahead of the game.
Which is why I decided (in some desperation) to wake up before the earworm could enter my consciousness, before the night gave way to groundhog day and perhaps before I could even recall who I was and what my particular set of traits and concerns were.
Mould breaking. That’s what I needed – something to break the mould that contained each day and instead set it free, set me free to choose pure potential. Which is what we naturally are, what we are able to be but never recall.
Because the soundtrack is set. The day is formulated. The recipe always turns out the same. Because we write it unconsciously and even if we wish to write a different recipe – try a different song – march to a different beat – we get stuck.
The stuff of great frustration.
I did a little research and found 3.30am to be the best time for meditation. There is a known magic at this hour. The Hindus call it Brahmamuhurta. The time of Brahma – one and half hours before sunrise. Now times for sunrise change according to season but don’t get too hung up on that – this is a good time regardless of when the sun comes up – it’s not about the sun rising – it is about consciousness rising – and that is what we must beat each day.
This is a precious life. I don’t want to spend it lost in habit and unconscious behaviour. We are able to choose – from the bible – we are told that God gifted us with free will. Yet so much of our time is spent unconscious or (if we fight upwards out of the sludge striving for awareness and an intentional intelligent life) we can become mired in a seemingly inescapable battle with our own mind.
Thought grooves can be broken. Samsara can be escaped. Humans have done this in the past and with a great deal of internal work – anyone can do it.
This morning, over a particularly repetitive anxious tune that was playing (is always playing in the background of my mind) a firm voice cut in. “That’s not going to happen” it said. Sharp, short, utterly truthful.
Those few words broke the record, the tape, the CD (still not with me?) the stream shattered, wifi went down – everything went quiet and not even a blue circle appeared. That particular tune has been wiped from my internal playlist. I know it with certainty.
There are still a lot of tracks to work through – a lot of grooves to level out but that’s one down. Gone. Taking away the instruments in an orchestra one by one will eventually lead to silence. I’m hopeful. I’m continuing.
Below is a wonderful Utube video that I stumbled across while looking into 3.30am. A reminder of what we are capable of and some of the crap that holds us back.