Waking up is usually hard for some people. Either you pull an all-nighter, you’re addicted to social media to the point you barely get time to sleep on time, you actually work really hard or you’re a night owl. The 8-hour quota of sleep makes us hit the snooze button. But research backs our ancient knowledge in acknowledging the particular time of the day good for the mind body and soul, Brahmamuhurta.
Introduction to Brahmamuhurta
Literally meaning “The Creator’s Hour“, it is traditionally the last phase or muhurta of the night and is considered an auspicious time for all practices of yoga and most appropriate for meditation, worship or any other religious practice. Each muhurta lasts 48 minutes, and therefore the Brahma muhurta begins 1 hour and 36 minutes before sunrise and ends 48 minutes before sunrise.
brahmi muhurtam uttishthet swastho rakshartham ayusha:tatra sarvartha shantyartham smareccha madhusudanam
(Ref: Ashtanga Hridayam)
The line translates as: ‘One should wake up in the Brahma muhurta for sustaining perfect health and for achieving a long lifespan, as desired.
The nature of the planet’s relationship with the sun and moon is such that certain physiological changes happen in the human system at this time. The environment is pure and calm and soothing and the mind is fresh after sleep. Meditation at this time improves mental performance thus helps in increasing satva guna, therefore, subduing mental irritation or hyperactivity and lethargy.
The entire body is in a certain conducive atmosphere, and there is a natural production of what is called melatonin, which is a secretion of the pineal gland. We want to make use of this because the pineal gland is secreting at its maximum during Brahma Muhurta, which means you can stabilize This time is considered best for attaining Brahma Gyan, supreme knowledge, and eternal happiness.
Brahma Muhurta means the time of the creator. You can look at it this way: it is the time when you can create yourself. You become the Brahman in the morning, so you can make yourself the way you want yourself to be.
The Law of Macrocosm and Microcosm
According to the Law of Microcosm and Macrocosm, everything that exists in the vast external universe, the macrocosm, also appears in the internal cosmos of the human body, the microcosm…Charaka says, ’Man is the epitome of the universe. There is in man as much diversity as in the world outside, and there is in the world as much diversity as in man.’ When the individual becomes aligned with the universe, the lesser cosmos functions as a harmonious unit of the greater. (Dr. Robert Svoboda)
In Ayurveda, perhaps the most well-worn application of this law is in the elemental macro and microcosms. Herein there are five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) and three governing forces—or doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Vata represents movement, Pitta transformation, and Kapha structure. The same five elements and three doshas make up the universe and human beings. They act in the same manner in both.
While not as frequently evoked as our elemental macro and microcosms, there are also temporal microcosms and macrocosms. In these, each time cycle is a microcosm of the next. There is the 24-hour cycle of the night giving way to daytime. This daily rhythm goes on and on and on, mimicking the grander cycles. The cycles of years, where the winter with its cold, lifeless months melt into the new growth of spring. The cycles of a lifetime, where a man goes from death into birth and from birth again into death.
Brahma muhurta and physiology
Brahmamuhurta is part of the 24-hour time cycle. If we overlay this 24-hour cycle microcosm over the cycle of a lifetime, we would see that brahmamuhurta roughly corresponds to (at least) late pregnancy and birth in the lifecycle. Childhood would correspond to morning, midlife to midday, old age—or the twilight of life—to late afternoon through the twilight, death to the fall of the night and the unembodied soul to the nighttime.
In Ayurveda, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are each said to govern certain times of day or times of life. Of the three, Vata governs all sandhis, or joints, such as the transitions from birth to death, death to birth, day to night and night again into a day. Vata governs the hours of 2 am through 6 am, or through dawn, which we know embraces the “joint” of the night into day and encompasses brahmamuhurta.
Apana, one of the five subsets of Vata, becomes particularly active around dawn.
Prana, another one of the five subsets of Vata, is that mystical and practical intelligence responsible for assembling a baby’s cells, tissues and organs during pregnancy. It controls the way a body is put together and how it functions once it is assembled. The same Apana that is active during dawn is also responsible for successfully delivering the baby into the world. So we can see that the same force—Vata—is dominant during both time cycles
If the healthy functioning of Prana assures optimal organization of energy and physical matter in the developing person, and healthy Apana delivers the complete person into the world in an optimal manner, then it goes to follow that these principles apply to the microcosm of brahmamuhurta as well.
During the early morning hours, for example, the active Prana would be organizing the intelligence of our physical and mental status or pathways, as it does during pregnancy and delivery. Healthy Apana would allow us smooth entry into our day. It would also stand to reason here that damaging or healing influences on Prana, Apana and the other subsets of Vata would be particularly significant during brahmamuhurta, as they are during pregnancy and birth.
We may take advantage of the fact that the organizational and delivery principles are particularly active, available and subject to influences at this time and we can provide healthy influences. Healthy influences would be any that would pacify Vata and facilitate the free flow of Prana.
Brahma muhurta and meditation
Yogis, Paramahamsas, Sannyasins, aspirants, and Rishis start their meditation during the Brahma muhurta; sending their vibrations throughout the world, benefiting all. Meditation will come by itself without any effort. During Brahma muhurta and dusk, the Sushumna Nadi flows readily. You will enter into deep meditation and Samadhi without much effort when Sushumna Nadi flows. When the breath flows through both nostrils, know that the Sushumna is working. Whenever the Sushumna functions, sit for meditation and enjoy the inner peace of Atman or soul.
Brahma muhurta for Students
During the time of Brahma Muhurta, the concentration level is at peak. Therefore, students are advised to study during Brahma Muhurat.
According to modern science, melatonin levels, which constitute a part of the body’s circadian rhythm, peak in the night and ebb by the time the sun rises. Melatonin is seen as a mood stabilizer and may enhance cognition. There have been some studies with mixed evidence on the short-term effects of melatonin on cognitive function. The drop in melatonin levels is accompanied by a rise in the anti-stress hormone cortisol, whose levels rise during the early morning hours and are highest at about 6 am. The rising levels of cortisol result in the activation of anti-stress and anti-inflammatory pathways and also stimulate all of the body organs.
So let’s kick the sheets of the bed and take charge of the day by waking up in the Brahmamuhurat.