To sit or not to sit is not a question. I wake up unnecessary early and sit still. Technically it is morning, but it would be pitch black if the city lights went off. No bird chirping, only a street sweeper chipping ice from sidewalks. Light snoring sounds from bedroom.
The dark and early mornings remind me of my first silent retreat in a Thailand monastery. On the first morning the large bell rang, I woke up and fell asleep again. 4:00 in the morning definitely is unnecessary early especially if all you do is meditate all day long. A few minutes later I jumped up again and started to talk in a panic attack to my neighbour next door because I thought they are going to lock the gates before I get out of the dorm. Short after that I remembered that this is a silent retreat. Embarrassed I dressed up and hurried to my cushion.
Now I have trained myself to get out of the bed promptly when the alarm goes on. As if someone would lock the gates soon. To wake up or not is not a question. I stretch and exchange my fluffy pillow for my meditation cushion and sit still. Breathing in, breathing out, count to one. Breathing in, breathing out, count to two. Just sitting still and being with the breath.
Starting a daily practice and continuing it is a matter of overall organisation. And dedication. Mornings are extremely sleepy moments, but it is a time frame before the thoughts and to do lists have taken over. And morning cushion is always there. For starters I woke up every day and just sat on the cushion for few long breaths. Someone would call it no practice at all, but with the right intention any simple activity can be your practice. Chögyam Trungpa in his book Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism tells that even lightning a candle and blowing it out every day with the intention of that being your practice can be good enough to develop a good daily routine. Just sit down on your cushion every day with the confidence that this is all you need to walk your spiritual path. It works. One step at a time.
“Simply stopping, just allowing a gap, is the first step in the practice of meditation.”
Take a look at your busy planner and decide which time of the day is more likely to be repeatedly emptier and book a gap session for yourself. When my kid was an infant, for a continuous period I used his second naptime as the gap-time. Promptly at two o’clock I would sit on the cushion. It worked. And kept my sanity. Find the right timing and grab a cushion.
Actually, the cushion might be not needed unless you decide to anchor your intention of the daily practice that way. But I must admit that it helps your sitting even if you do only five long breaths. Unless you are a flexible yogi. The slightly elevated hip position improves your back alignment and lets the blood circulate down to your legs. Sounds trivial, but the impact is profound. I have made the zafu cushion myself and filled it with buckwheat hull. If you really want, I can make one for you too. But you can simply order yours through Amazon Prime, it will do the same trick. The cushion will be there. And you might even start sitting daily.