Early in the morning, before dawn, nature’s energy flows in one direction towards the source. This is not a physical energy but something much subtler.
Our genetic predisposition is geared towards responding to these solar cycles and other natural cycles, based on millions of years of evolution.
During the daytime, we are predisposed to a certain pattern of breathing and level of activity. Since time immemorial, our forefathers developed a natural routine of life based on these cycles. Most activities were performed during the daytime, and night-time was for rest. So the body acquired a rhythm of activity and rest, day and night.
To be in tune with these cycles, our forefathers generally rose early and greeted the sun. For example, in Hatha Yoga we have the surya namaskar, the sun salutation, which was often done in the early morning, outside, facing the rising sun. And still today, in some villages in India, you can see people in the early mornings practising the traditional Hindu ritual of offering water to the sun. Scientists now know that sunlight activates nerve pathways from the retina of the eye to the hypothalamus, which then leads to serotonin production. Serotonin is our ‘happy’ hormone, and without it we are prone to depression. Being out in the sunlight in the early morning kick-starts our serotonin production for the day, giving us that bright, joyful feeling towards life. Sunlight on water also releases negative ions into the atmosphere, vitalising our system even more. There is great scientific wisdom in many of the ancient rituals!
Not only that, enough serotonin is a prerequisite for the production of another hormone in our bodies called melatonin. Within the pineal gland, serotonin is chemically transformed to yield melatonin. Melatonin levels start increasing in our bodies about two hours before we are programmed to go to sleep, so if we are sensitive enough to feel this natural rhythm we will start to wind down for the day in a restful mood, and then eventually prepare for the night. If, on the other hand, we continue watching TV or playing video games late into the night while our bodies are trying to prepare for sleep, it is like swimming against the current.
This daily hormonal rhythm is an integral rhythm, where one thing leads to another: rising early and being out in the sun leads to serotonin production, which leads to melatonin production, which allows us to sleep well, which allows us to wake up early again the next morning. When this cycle is disturbed, we are prone to sleep problems and depression, two of the most significant maladies of the modern world.
Reprinted with permission by Kamlesh D Patel from Designing Destiny, 2019. www.daaji.org/designing-destiny
(Kamlesh D Patel is the fourth spiritual guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation. He travels extensively and is at home with people from all backgrounds and walks of life, giving special attention to the youth of today.)