Morning Rituals & Daily Practice – How You Start Your Day Sets the Tone
When it comes to manifesting change, it starts with seemingly small actions that layer over themselves and grow in scope. Too often though these daily habits don’t seem nearly as sexy as skipping to the end result. But in many ways they’re much more meaningful. Why? Since much of life consists of practice: learning, and discovering anew. So how you spend that first part of your day is critical. It’s akin to an engine that propels your dreams forward.
How others start their days may surprise you. For instance, did you know poet, and civil rights activist, Dr. Maya Angelou, didn't feel in tune with her creative muse at home? So she would book a hotel room nearby that served as an office. And internationally famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, rose at 5:00 am each morning, and wouldn’t have a bite of breakfast until she’d written a thousand words! The rituals of profound people may seem unusual, yet they’re grounded in internal logical. Take founding father and scientist, Benjamin Franklin, extremely methodical Franklin would outline specific intentions to live by. Then each week he'd pick a different virtue, such as compassion or moderation, and would let that guide his actions. All progress and difficulties were recorded in his personal journal. If you'd like to learn more, author Mason Currey, in his book, Daily Rituals, documents these habits, and many more, of the most prolific writers and artists of our times.
Something wondrous happens when you become conscious of the start of each day: it shines a light on your behavior. Armed with this new awareness, you can switch gears, and operate with intention.
Own Your Choices
Ideally, if waking up were easy, when would you like to greet the day? Be honest. When do you actually wake up? Early-riser or late-bloomer, if you'd like to get up at a different time than you currently do, empower yourself. And reinvent your pattern. Aside from setting an alarm, (and hitting the snooze button indefinitely), what can you do to wake up sooner? Consider your actions the prior night: make certain you go to bed, allowing for 8 hours of quality sleep. If that means turning in earlier and you find it difficult to drift off, then practice each night with eyes closed, until eventually it becomes natural to fall asleep at your desired time. If you sleep through your alarm, then set your alarm an hour earlier, and program it to go off every fifteen minutes so it’s impossible to ignore. Alternatively, ask an early-bird friend to give you a wakeup call. Instead of hanging up, ask them to chat with you for five minutes before hanging up, to make certain you stay awake.
Seize the Early Hours
What would you like to accomplish? Is there something you've been procrastinating that you wish you could tackle? What have you put on the back burner indefinitely? Take the emotion out of it. Break it into action steps. Own your desire. Say it aloud. And loud. Repeat it like a mantra. I want to… I want to... Then choose one step each day, moving in the direction toward your goal. Fully commit to the task. Also important, when doing it, be intuitive. If you feel blocked or hesitant, unsure of what direction to go, close your eyes. Don't open them until you have a firm grasp on that next step.
Before reaching for your morning java, consider skipping all stimulants and experience your natural energy levels. Let the first liquid you put into your body be water. Not too cold or too hot. And if you still feel you want coffee, opt for natural process decaf, which will still contain caffeine, but significantly less. NASA researchers gave spiders mind-altering substances, such as LSD, sleeping pills, and caffeine, and observed how they spun their webs; results showed that spiders on caffeine produced strange incoherent-looking webs. So sipping your morning brew isn’t always the best idea when you want to focus. And when it comes to breakfast, after fasting through the night; choose nutritious foods that will refuel your body in the healthiest way, such as grain based cereals, fruits, vegetables and clean proteins.
Traditionally, Yogis and Yoginis begin the day with Yoga and meditation practice. Stress reduction, mental clarity, heart health, strengthened immunity, the mind/body benefits are boundless. Commit to daily morning meditation. Allow 5-15 minutes of interrupted time, after waking. Sit in a cross-legged position and let your thoughts flow. Consider starting your day with gentle stretches to warm up, followed by a Yoga flow such as three rounds of the Sun Salute. Personalize your practice. If you'd enjoy a deeper meditative experience, go through each Asana very slowly with eyes closed. Alternatively, there's Moon Salute. Use your imagination and create a combination that best serves your needs. *Always make sure Yoga is safe for you before practicing.
The beauty of morning rituals, is you can do these habits without expending extra brain power, thus building on positive momentum. When you choose habits you wish to cultivate, then take steps to ingrain them into your routine, even though the act of doing them may seem mindless, it's coming from a place of awareness.