Most of us get up at more or less the same time everyday, and even if we don’t, that’s what our body likes the best – routines.
Take a minute or two to think through your morning “rituals” – shower, coffee, checking emails, news, breakfast, meditation, exercise of some sort… in what order? How much time to you plan for getting ready? Does it always feel too little?
My invitation is to take a moment every morning to slowly adjust after several hours of sleep, and ground yourself to get ready for the new day. I love mornings, especially when I wake up just before sunrise when the light is simply magical. The sun takes its time to slowly rise over the horizon, and only then it starts shining. Our body – including our brain – are kind of the same, they need some time to get ready before jumping into the day.
Personally, I know I easily get going into “getting things done” in the morning, going towards the next goal or to-do. To counter-balance this tendency I need to take some time to ground and connect to myself. By grounding I mean getting more down into my body; by connecting to myself I mean doing something good for my body, my mind, and my heart. This is where routines can be tremendously helpful.
Here are a few suggestions:
Mindful breathing: When you wake up, plan 2 more min to stay in bed and, with eyes open or closed, pay attention to your breath. Your mind may wander in thoughts, that’s OK (that’s what minds do!). When that happens, gently bring your attention back to your breath. Yep, you are meditating.
Question of the day: If meditation is not your thing in general, in bed or in the morning, that’s cool too. You can take 1 or 2 min to ask yourself something, like : “What do I wish for myself today?” , “What can I do to enjoy myself a little more today?” or “What do I want to learn or make progress about today?” . Coming up with your own question, in your own words, either the same every day or changing it (every day or every week for instance) will work the best. Here the idea is to use a couple of minutes to take care of yourself in -perhaps- a new way, and reducing the stress of morning rush, chores or devices.
Phones and other devices: Today, many of us spend most of our day in front of a screen, having to relate to many other things outside of our home and ourselves. My suggestion might be a challenge for you: Wait some time before checking your e-mails, the news or/and social media in the morning. Just bringing awareness to how quick at checking social medias and using our devices in the morning can be a great exercise, rich in teachings and experience. How easy or difficult is it for you to get offline, even for a short moment? Again, find the right time for waiting to turn on devices or checking emails: 10 min, after breakfast, upon arriving at work, etc. Bringing awareness to our habits can be very empowering and reduce overwhelm. And what about turning your phone off at night and letting it outside of the bed room?
Preparing breakfast: My favorite routine. Every morning, first thing, I boil some water, drink warm water with lemon, prepare myself some tea pot and breakfast. What you put or don’t put in your belly in the morning is affecting your day. Having almost a “ritual” around breakfast is one of the most grounding thing I can do for myself in the morning. Of course, preparing takes time, but you’re worth it. Perhaps you can prepare something the night before that can makes life easier in the morning. Soak your oats overnight (will then cook in 2 min) or cook some brown rice or any other grain in advance, cut your fruits or pull berries out of the freezer, and even place a bowl and a spoon on the table the night before.
Many resources are out there to help you the perfect solution for you. Here in SF Bay area, nice and healthy breakfast bars such as CORE Foods, are available. Some chefs like Hilla Abel are specialized in tips to eat better and more healthy for families (http://www.healthinapan.com/ ).
Meditation: Sitting meditation is also a great practice to start a new day afresh. Ideally, you want to create a spot dedicated for meditation in your home, a place where you cannot be disturbed, with a cushion and a timer. Many of us will find it difficult to set time aside to do it, especially in the morning, and many of us “don’t know” how to meditate. The thing is we can meditate everywhere, in every moment and action during our day. If mornings are already a bit stressful for you, you probably don’t want to add a 20- or 30-min sitting meditation on your plate. Instead, start with only 5 min or try to stay present while preparing your breakfast.
Exercise: Yoga works great for me in the morning. Sometimes 5 min, other times 20 or 30 min, with more or less intensity, flow and core work, depending not only on my time but also on my mood and how my body feels that day. Again, it’s important to listen (honestly) to yourself and asks “What’s best for me this morning?”. For other people, it’s walking the dog around the block, running, going to the gym, Qi Gong, 10 push-ups, 1 sun salute, biking or walking to work or dancing after the shower on your favorite hit. Find what works for you and allow yourself to be flexible – it can be more fun to vary!
Explore: Take some time to explore what works best for you in the morning. Experiment, and most importantly listen to yourself.
You will then find the morning routine that suits your body, your personality, your heart and mind. May such routines increase your well-being, creativity, and energy throughout your day, and diminish worries and stress.
About creativity, poet David Whyte, in What to Remember when Waking, suggests to start your day with something creative and inspiring – even for 10-20 min – instead of waiting until you’ve checked everyting on your to-do list, next holiday or retirement. I tried, and it is amazing how your day then changes. Why not try next morning?
Good luck and enjoy every step of your exploration!