The Morning Routine
Over the last year or so I have been realizing the importance of having some steady morning routine. It’s given me greater happiness, ease, and much more energy during my day. I was never a morning person until just a few years ago when my class schedule shifted to be mostly based in the morning. In fact, I used to stay up till 1 or 2 in the morning on a regular basis. But out of necessity as I started to get up early, I gradually found my way to a really nice morning routine that starts my day from a happy and grounded place.
Now I realize that our routines have to be based on the immediate circumstances of our lives, and that what works for me as a single man with no children wouldn’t work well for everyone. So I put up an open question on my Facebook page asking my friends what they do for their morning routine. The answers were very candid. Some people had elaborate rituals, and some did simple stuff. Some people mentioned they felt inadequate for not having an elaborate ritual. And, the running consensus among my friends with small children was something along the lines of, “my morning routine is trying not to lose my sh*t, and if I don’t lose my sh*t, it was a great morning.”
So here’s one idea right off the bat.
Cut the “I’m inadequate” story right now.
Here’s the bottom line. How you start your day is important. How you set your mind for the day is important. I think it’s important to do something or a few things consistently every day. But, you don’t have to spend 30 minutes floating on lily pads over the Buddha’s patio while you rearrange Lakshmi’s lawn furniture to have a good morning routine. Maybe just say a quick prayer when you wake up. I always say, “thank you for my day.” Maybe you do three deep breaths when your feet hit the floor. The point is, do something every day, but don’t feel like you have to go nuts. One thing I’ve discovered over the years of working with clients: we will not do what we don’t have time to do. You have to start with what feels manageable and then do it consistently. After a month or so, it becomes like brushing your teeth.
Below is my morning routine. You might find some things you want to incorporate into your own routine or maybe you think of the things you really like to do. Whatever you do is fine. I can’t emphasize that enough. Start with what you can do even if it’s only a quick prayer and make it as consistent as possible.
I wake up around 5:30 to 6:30. Waking up at the same time every day is a great tip from Ayurveda. I sleep way better, and have much more energy.
Before getting up I do a few minutes of simple gratitude practice. I thank the bed, the sheets, the nightstands, and the lamps (simple stuff, but to paraphrase Kelly Clarkson my life would s*ck without them). I start with what’s around me to get my mind going, and then I keep going. I feel grateful for my friends and family, for my classes and students, for whatever comes to mind. I’m a major proponent of “gratitude for the basics” remembering not to take anything around us, no matter how routine or basic, for granted.
Usually Bonsai, my cat, is staring at me imperiously from the foot of the bed, so I feel gratitude for him and pet him. I continue for about 3 to 5 minutes listing things for which I am thankful. This is how I set my mind for the day. I always end by saying, “Thank you for this day.”
I do a little Reiki on myself.
Then The Emperor and I head downstairs.
I do the netti pot.
I have a big glass of water with an electrolyte supplement (to catch up from all the hot yoga I teach).
Then hot water with lemon and honey.
Then, most importantly, I have 1-2 cups of coffee. I love my coffee. Come hell or high water, locusts or frogs, I’m having my coffee.
I always listen to the same album of Kundalini songs every morning. Usually, I’m not a fan of chanting, but this music has a healing energetic resonance to it and I like to have that be the energetic environment from which I start out the day.
I usually look out my windows over Watertown. I like to see the birds flocking and the sun rising. I remind myself that this is a beautiful world, and that I’m lucky to be alive and healthy (and I do this even when I feel the opposite). I’ll usually do some social media at this point and answer emails. I try to read things online that interest me and try to learn something new.
Make some breakfast.
Then it’s off to the day.
(People often ask if I meditate in the morning. I used to, but have preferred lately to meditate before going to bed. It feels nice to clear my mind from the day.)
One major thing that this routine has taught me is that I’m worthy of time. I think so many times nowadays we are caught up in the glorified nature of “busy” that we forget we’re worthy of time. Sometimes yes, we can’t take 30 minutes of time for ourselves, but there’s always 3 seconds. Big changes in life are the result of millions of small shifts that we practice on a regular basis. Start with what is possible and what you can do, and then you never know what can evolve from there.