Each morning our return to waking life is marked by a unique mental state. In those first minutes of our day, our minds are in an estuary between the dream world and 3rd dimensional consciousness. Like an aquatic estuary, it’s ripe with nutrients and lifeforms that you can’t find anywhere else. This in-between state of the mind can be used for greater creativity, serenity, and flow.
For many years I squandered these golden minutes. Being overly concerned with productivity had me immediately sprint to my daily to do list. In my sports and military-focused past, the first task of the day was literally running. Those familiar with Eastern medicine or sports-performance know that intense physical effort upon awakening is bad for the body. The same is true for the mind.
Like an engine, or a muscle group, your mind runs a lot smoother if it’s allowed to gradually warm up.
Inversely, going from sleep to mental sprinting can send the nervous system into Fight or Flight mode. When I look around New York City subway cars during the morning rush I can see the overactive adrenals on many commuters’ faces: quick blinking, dark circles and saggy skin. Even the jerky way many people move in the morning suggests that they didn't let their systems warm up properly. This causes a mental fog that often requires caffeine to cut through, which in turn stresses out the nervous system even more.
Meditation has become quite popular in the business world for it’s ability to train the mind towards clarity of thought. In a pinch, the ability to enter a meditative state can “reset” the a mis-calibrated mind. However we don’t need to sit on a cushion and close our eyes to find that state, we’re already in when we first wake up.
Hypnotists do their work by getting subjects to enter lower frequency brain waves states. The lower our brain wave frequency, the more easily we can access our subconscious, the more suggestible we are, and therefore the more effectively we can change affect behavior. Just like metal, the mind can be molded more easily in a volatile (fluid) state than a fixed (solid) one. That is why children learn life lessons better from fables, rather than from explicit commands. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” sticks a lot better than “Lying to Get Attention is a Bad Idea.”
Those of us with a penchant for productivity tend to jump out of the volatile brainwave states (Theta 4–8Hz & Delta 1–3 Hz) of sleep straight into the fixed state of alert consciousness (Beta 14–30 Hz). In the Beta State the attention focus is on processing the data from our five senses. This is best suited for tangible thought and action. When our minds are fixed, we are most in control, but also the least creative.