Top Ten Tips for Establishing Early Morning Meditation
Make Amritvela a Habit
by Sukhmandir Khalsa
Updated May 12, 2017
Amritvela or early morning meditation is a vital part of a Sikhs daily worship schedule. According to the Sikh code of conduct, Amritvela is three hours prior to dawn. Amritvela is considered to be the most opportune time to achieve that instance of immortality when the soul relinquishes ego for union with the divine. To successfully observe Amritvela, it is essential to establish a routine so that early morning meditation becomes a habit.
Whether or not you are a Sikh, these ten tips can help you to attain, maintain, and sustain a richly rewarding meditation practice for life.
- Go to bed four to eight hours before you plan to awaken so that you will be fresh when you meditate. Set an alarm for the time you wish to rise. Say an evening prayer such as Kirtan Sohila before retiring for the night to set your consciousness in a meditative mode.
- Wake up early when everything is quiet so you are less likely to be disturbed while meditating. Rise at the same time every day so that you become accustomed to rising on schedule and are more likely to wake up naturally.
- Begin meditation audibly as soon as you wake. Get out of bed stand up right away to avoid falling back asleep.
- Perform isnaan, and take a quick shower or bath. Cold or cool water will help wake you up and keep you alert. Continue your meditation audibly while bathing, tending your hair, and dressing.
- Wear comfortable loose clothing so that nothing restricts, binds or hampers circulation. Have a special shawl or light weight blanket to provide warmth while in meditation. Wear the same clothing and use the same wrap every day to help establish your routine, laundering as necessary.
- Choose a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed. Consider setting aside a special space or place in your home for meditation. To help you remain alert, sit with your spine straight in a flexible posture with your legs crossed in a comfortable position while meditating.
- Avoid artificial lighting. If necessary for your comfort, a candle or night light may be lit, preferably behind your line of sight.
- Watch with your inner eye. Center your focus by closing your eyes and mentally visualizing a Sikh symbol such as a khanda, Ik Onkar or imagine writing one word such as Waheguru.
- Listen with your inner ear. Center your focus by concentrating on a single word or phrase such as Waheguru, Ik Onkar, to repeat either audibly or silently. In Sikhism, audible repetition is known as Naam Jap and silent recitation as Simran.
- At dawn read, recite, or otherwise review nitnem, or daily prayers. Take a hukam from the Guru Granth Sahib (or read a random verse from your preferred scripture).
The greatest motivating factor in establishing the habit of waking up for Amritvela and engaging in early morning meditation is the longing and desire of the soul for spiritual union with the divine beloved. Create a sacred space where you can go to leave aside the world to merge with the beloved divine. Despite best efforts to rise early, there may come days when you have a hard time getting up. Sometimes you have to cheat or be cheated and could use an Amritvela cheat sheet. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes you just can’t sleep while eagerly waiting for it to be time to get up.
Watch for signs that you may be meditating too much, as the sublime experience of sacred amalgamation can become truly addicting.