The morning is arguably the most important part of your day, because all that happens in the first hour after you wake up, externally as well as internally, sets the tone for the rest of your day. There is nothing worse than waking up feeling stressed, anxious and drained of energy. A mindful morning ritual that awaken both mind, body and spirit to a state of peace and joy, is a great aid in preventing dangerous stress levels, and in teaching ourselves how to approach life with more ease and awareness.
A new day is not a blank sheet full of possibilities. We still inhabit the same body, thoughts and feelings as we did yesterday, and all the stress and anxiety that constantly build up inside awaken with us. Everyday, we have to make a conscious effort to let go of negativity to make sure that it does not impact our mood and capability.
A morning ritual is not supposed to be a checklist of chores which further drains our lust and energy, but a gentle greeting and prayer to the rising sun. The aim of my morning ritual is to purify, invigorate and bless my body, mind and soul before I step into the world and face the challenges of life.
I have experimented with this ritual for years, incorporating bits and pieces of advice from various sources, among them teachers of Yoga and Ayurveda, and life-coaches such as Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way) and Shakti Gawain (author of Creative Visualization). It might seem simple – which is the purpose of mindfulness – but it’s well thought through. This ritual brings together many elements from earlier blogposts on my holistic lifestyle, and can be seen as an example of how I practice my beliefs.
Breakfast and inspiration
As soon as I wake up, I drink a glass of water to boost my digestion, and do my skincare routine to re-hydrate and refresh the body after many hours of sleep. Breakfast always begins with a hot cup of coffee infused with maple syrup, a splash of milk and 1/2 tsp of warming spices such as ginger, cardamom and cinnamon (I have discussed the benefits and uses of these spices in an earlier post which can be found here). The ideal breakfast should be nutritious and keep you satisfied until lunch, while also keeping the blood sugar stable. I have a rotation of favorite breakfasts which are high in protein and fiber, and made from the same ingredients, so I don’t need to buy many different items: overnight oats, Greek yogurt with fresh berries and nuts, oatmeal or smoothie.
After elevating my senses with coffee and food, I like to read or watch something spiritually uplifting, making sure to feed myself with good, healthy energy on all levels. I usually watch a few YouTube videos to find inspiration and motivation for my own projects (some of my favorite life coaches on YouTube include Evan Carmichael, Marie Forleo, and Girl and the Word). This YouTube-time is a learning opportunity, an exercise in creative visualization and positive thinking, not an excuse to escape life with funny cat videos. I like to listen to the same type of message expressed through many different voices, to expand my vocabulary of positive words, and to fill my emotional cup with passionate energy first thing in the morning.
Journaling and planning
While sipping on my morning coffee, I like to jot down my thoughts as they stream from my consciousness, just to get them out of my system. This activity can be seen as a variation of Julia Cameron’s morning pages and it serves multiple purposes. This way of writing isn’t really any different from how I start writing an article or a book, and it gets me in the habit of shaping words into sentences every morning. For me, journaling is a way of easing into work, without the pressure of performing outstanding results.
I also love to make lists and write down everything I need to do everyday as way of purging this information from my brain, and make space for more interesting things to evolve, like creativity. If I have a list in front of me, I feel like I’ve got it covered. Nothing can stop me from reaching my goals and fulfilling my obligations. Every Monday morning, I make a schedule for the week ahead including goals, projects, chores and shopping list, but I also make a simple list every morning covering the most important tasks for the day. Of course, my love for scheduling and planning is born from a strong desire for control which needs to be balanced. This is where morning yoga comes in.
Yoga and prayer
My morning yoga is a spiritual practice, a prayer without words. Because I love to plan and organize, it is important for me to start the day with a flow that reminds me that I don’t need to have any control, and that it is only by the grace of God, only by aligning myself with the sacred laws of the universe, that my life can be fulfilled. For me, yoga is like taking a cleansing bath in a sea of good energy. I don’t see morning yoga as a workout, even if it gets the body moving, but as a way of surrendering to God’s will.
My morning yoga flow isn’t a static routine. With a regular yoga practice you build enough awareness to sense where your your energy is at so that you can determine your needs for the day. Sometimes the body wants a vigorous workout and sometimes it just has to breath and stretch. I always begin the practice with putting a refreshing blend of essentials oils in my diffuser. Smell affects the psyche on a deep level, and the scent of flowers and herbs can lift our mood and move us from darkness into the light. To increase the spiritual vibe, I sometimes put a healing stone at the top of my mat which symbolize a certain quality that I want to harness and grow that day.
While yoga offers a lot of benefits for the physical body (such as increasing flexibility and blood flow, expanding the lungs and toning muscles), the emotional and spiritual effects are just as powerful. One definition of the word Yoga is “union” – the union of body, mind and spirit – and nothing fulfills a holistic lifestyle more than a well-balanced yoga practice.