Saturday, April 08, 2006

On Being a “Morning Person”

As I have passed through the urban landscape in the west as well as the east, I have come to note a curious statement that many people make when they are sleepy or lethargic in the morning. The statement is: “I am not a morning person.”

The birds and bees and animals and fish are not “morning” or “evening” creatures. They live by necessity and by an inner rhythm of wakefulness and sleep. The vast majority of humankind also has little choice in this matter. To earn their bread, people get up early, tend to their duties and start working by 8 or 9 o'clock.

Weekends and vacations are a relatively recent phenomenon in human societies. In agrarian settings, vacations are non-existent. If the crops need tending to, there is no weekend or Sunday
when you can choose to have a “day off”.

Urban life is a life of pressure. A synonym of urban life can be, “So much to do, so little time.” Frenetic activity, stresses to handle deadlines, obligations, commitments, engagements, meetings, shopping trips, parties, visits to places of “amusement”, calculated ways to spend one's weekend, all lend a rather non-leisurely tone to one's life. There is hardly any time to sit back, without anything to do, without phones ringing, without a thousand things on one's mind, and to reflect on nothing.

Of course such a life takes its toll on the physical organism. As mental stresses predominate the life of urbanites, physical activity becomes a way to take one's mind off the “usual stuff”. Going to gyms, yoga, doing weights, jogging, morning walks, after dinner strolls are predominantly urban phenomenons.

And one must not forget the over-indulgence involved in such a life. Overeating, binging, partying, staying up late, “playing hard” after “working hard”, take their toll on one's body.

The body, due to all this abuse, and the mind, due to all this stress, craves relief and escape. And if nothing else, the city offers plenty of escapes. Movies, bookstores, theaters, coffee shops, long drives, window shopping, pubbing, and of course, sleep.

The body, when stressed, needs proper rest to regain its balance. And in urban settings, it is usually short of sleep and rest. It is a rarity to find a modern, employed person who frequently gets up early in the morning (before five o'clock) in a city setting.

And this is to be expected.

However, the identity within, sees the damage being done to the body, and the lethargy the body feels every morning, the reluctance to go to work, the “Monday morning sickness”, the tendency to fall asleep at the workplace; but is loath to admit that the goals it is pursuing are harmful. For to admit that one is living wrongly means one has to get off's one back and actually do something about it.

Hence, it invents a justification of not being a “morning person”. There is, in actuality no such thing as being a “morning person” or an “evening person”. Otherwise, why do we find a predominance of people in the cities who claim they are “not morning people.” And why does one even hear this phrase, if not as a justification of being lethargic and sleepy in the morning? One almost never hears the phrase, “Oh, you know, I just can't stay in the bed once I am awake.” If the body has had proper rest, it is naturally relaxed, calm and ready for activity every morning. Having a cup of tea in the morning to shake off the lethargy, postponing the act of bathing, being constipated, all point to the abuse the body is being subjected to.

What is important is to live a stress free life, a leisurely life, a life free of cares. Living a life otherwise and then justifying it with false assertions about one's body's rhythms is detrimental in the short as well as the long term.


Anonymous said...

True , getting up early helps in several ways , one is able to get along smoothly as the day advances , coping with stress , depression becomes easier because there has been a spell of exercise in the time which is just so timeless , asanaas , some breathing exercises help . Above all one lends a definition to the day .

Anonymous said...

I am a regular visitor of your weblog though I never added any comment. Infact all your articles are very inspiring and thought provoking. So the only comment I can think of is "very very true". It was so nice to find a new article on your weblog after nearly 4 months.

Looking forward to such articles on
various other themes of life.