If you're like me and have somewhat fallen out of your daily routines and rituals, it feels like such a gritty task... trying to get "back on track" in the winter months. And rightfully so! Digging up our own self-motivation out of the hard frozen ground IS a challenge.
Something I've been focusing on a lot recently is what I do with the first few hours of my day. I know not all of us have much time to play around with in the mornings or we want to sleep a little longer (hey, no judgment, plus there's less sun run now).
Here are some of the habits I'm finding are harder to break in the mornings:
grabbing for my phone first thing upon waking
drinking coffee before any other liquid or food
too much interaction with others before spending time with myself
skipping my meditation and spiritual practices with the aim to do them "later"
While these may not seem like a big deal... all of these are distractions that take me away from my own energy and further away from my bigger picture goals.
Over time, I've found that I function so much better (in life) when I am able to just have some quiet time in the morning and not lace up and run off to the races right away. It's like I say when we come out of savasana sometimes, "let's keep the eyes closed as we find our seats so we can maintain that drop of connection to self". The idea is that upon waking, we have reset from the day prior, and we have this brand new, untouched energy to carry with us into the day, and it is our job to protect it and be mindful of it at all times. The moment we look at our phones or have conversations about what we are making for dinner... we have been influenced by outside energy, or forces, before we have even had a moment to take a deep breath, a sip of water, or look outside.
It's not that I'm against "being influenced" or knowing what's going on in the news, or even that I'm anti-social (although I am more introverted than one might expect). It simply boils down to my belief in that Being mindful enough to keep my energy clear at the start of the day, and anything I ingest (food, water, caffeine, conversation, screen time) in the first few hours is crucial to my energy and capacity to hold space for myself and others throughout the rest of the day. I think the way that my morning starts plays a role in my mood and interactions with others, how creative and inspired I feel as well as how focused or productive I am throughout the working hours of the day.
While I have fallen short of some of the other morning "pieces" I am working each day to put back into place, I'm grateful that I have created just ONE non-negotiable morning ritual that I've been doing each morning without fail. Whether it comes before or after or in between other distractions, I spend a minimum of 30 minutes at the start of my day, in my cozy chair and robe, journaling and dumping out my brain. Another method, over time, that I've found to be extremely helpful at the front end of the day. I just sit down and start writing. Anything from things I'd like to work on that day, a dream I remember having, a conversation I'm still thinking about, how I'm feeling in certain areas of my life, or that my hand feels cramped from writing so fast. Anything goes in the morning with this practice, which I love, and I feel free to create and write my truth without any outside influence or opinion. Knowing that I've been able to successfully tie myself to this one solid piece in the morning, I've slowing been starting to re-integrate other morning modalities from my toolkit that set me up for the day with clearer, more authentic energy. Whenever I "begin again", which is often, I like to start back at the basics, back at square one. I don't expect myself to be able to sit in meditation for a full 30 minutes, so I start with just 2. I don't need to make a production out of my morning movement, so I just get on my mat in my PJs. I'm choosing to drink some water before making an elaborate coffee drink and giving myself a buzz. And I'm just taking it slow. And I think that fact alone is the key to living mindfully.
I know this all sounds lovely and good for me, right? But how can you read something like this and bring it into Your life? Where are the actionable steps? First, start by retracing your steps. What did you do THIS morning? How did you start your week? Did you reach for your phone and check your messages or did you turn off the alarm and leave your phone behind? Did you drink some water before you got to your daily tasks? Did you find any movement in your body or stretch out any stiff spots? Did you eat something? What did you eat? Did you talk to anyone? How was your mood? Did you sit down and take a moment to breathe or meditate or give yourself a pep talk in the mirror? ALL of what you do in the morning MATTERS and so you might as well get intentional about it.
The tricky piece is working with the clock and the amount of time you have on any given morning. It might be the same each day, it might vary. And if you have unlimited time, excellent, you have more space to play around with this morning ritual thing and just sitting with yourself, in your own energy. But if you don't have unlimited time (most of us don't), it's not something you can buy. So you have to make choices. You have to decide to wake up 10 minutes earlier and slip quietly out of the room so you can just be with yourself and fill your cup before trying to fill all the others. So pour yourself some tea or hot water with lemon and look out of the window and write down your dreams before you start thinking about dinner and everything you need to accomplish in the next 12 hours or 7 days. Do some breath-work, literally, just close your eyes and count the length of your inhale and count the length of your exhale. Even if it's just one round. Prepare a meal, sit at a table, and eat it. Take a lot of bites before you swallow. You always have choices in your approach to life and protecting your energy. You choose what you take in, what you pay attention to, how you supplement, what you eat, drink, smoke, and google.
Another tricky piece to this puzzle with edges that flash "selfish" is that you have to set some boundaries. Not just with other people, but with yourself. Boundaries that look like:
expressing to others in your household how important your morning ritual is and asking for the space to have your alone time
setting a timer on yourself or watching the clock before you pick up your phone
discussing expectations with work or friends and family about your response time or when you can be reached later in the day
taking the time to visualize what your ideal morning routine would look like and then being accountable to yourself, writing it down, and checking back in to see how it's going or what areas might need improvement
drinking plenty of water to keep your energy and vessel clear
Sometimes when it is all spelled out in front of us like this, it makes things easier to grasp. So I hope this helps you in some way if you have stumbled across this blog and you too, are working on your own rituals and setting boundaries to honor them. If you feel so inclined to comment on this post, please share what you are working on, what sets you up for a good day, or anything that comes to mind that is woven into the thread of this topic.