Danielle LaPorte recently wrote an article about the importance of morning rituals. I did a happy dance when I saw it, because I love morning rituals. It’s something I’ve worked with for YEARS, and honestly, resisted at times.
I am not exactly a morning person. I do wake up aware and alert, but I like to stay in bed. My furbs are snugglers, so I usually lay in bed with them for a while. But when I need to get up, my morning ritual helps me get my day going.
So, Why have a morning ritual or routine?
SIDE NOTE: It doesn’t matter what you call it. I like ritual, because…I like rituals. I like seeing the start of my day as holy. I’m always looking for the little cosmic things that make me feel good. Lighting a candle. Sitting in meditation. But if routine is what you prefer, go for it.
1. It helps you avoid decision fatigue.
That’s actually a thing. I learned about it listening to Tim Ferriss. So, every time you make a decision or choice, it takes a little bit of your energy. And that effect is cumulative. People who don’t have a routine to their day have to make all sorts of decisions: do I eat now? What should I eat? Do I work? What do I work on? When should I take a break? When should I… By the end of a day like this, I don’t wanna do shit…unless it involves netflix and a glass of wine.
When you start your day the same way every day, you get to keep some of that decision-making energy in reserve, to make decisions that are more important than what kind of veggie to eat with lunch.
2. Start your day with a win
It feels pretty fantastic to get shit done before you ever even leave the house. You’ll probably smile a little more. You might even strut. That sense of accomplishment is a powerful motivator.
3. Bring an element of sacred into your day
I love that feeling of honoring and gratitude I get when I take part in my spiritual practice. Tending altars, moving and feeding the body, meditation, personal devotion and contemplation all have place in your morning routine. And if you aren’t the religious or spiritual type, that’s okay too. It’s only sacred if you make it so.
4. Your morning routine can help you do all the things you say yer gonna do…and then don’t.
Eat right. Work out. Pray. Read. Floss. These, and anything else have a place in your ritual. You get to make it yours, as long as you don’t use it as a tool to beat yourself up. No shame gaming yourself. This is fun, remember?
5. Helps you to know what you actually WANT.
When you know how your day will begin, you can take a load off. This ties in to #2, but expands on it a little. Part of my ritual (more in a bit) is to touch in with my intentions. What do I want from this day, and from my life? When I take that moment to get real, and remember, I feel more grounded. I bring a little more certainty into an otherwise uncertain world.
6. Teach your family good habits.
The best way to teach is by showing or doing. If I told you that you need to follow a morning routine, but never did it myself, I’d be a big jerk.
The same thing goes for our households. When YOU begin your day with a ritual, you help your partner, your roommate, or your children do the same. If you start your day right, you can help your companions do the same thing for themselves. Can you imagine, a whole generation of people that start their days with purpose?!
So, how do we do it?
First, decide how long you need. I’d suggest at least an hour, to really give you an opportunity to get into a flow.
But, it doesn’t have to be an hour. It can be 15 minutes, especially in the beginning, or if you have super busy mornings. If you can get on a routine (and dare I say, autopilot can be sacred?) you’ll set yourself up with success.
Speaking of setting yourself up for success, don’t overestimate. If you think you can do a half hour, go for 15 minutes. 2 hours possible? Just go for an hour. Make it super easy and doable. That’s how you create a routine.
Here’s my current ritual. I use the 30/30 timer app on my iPhone. If I don’t have a lot going on that day, I skip the timer, and just let it flow.
Oil Pull and the Sacrament of Putter.
With thanks to Anne Lamott, for giving me permission to putter, which I love to do. So I take a teaspoonful of sesame oil (it’s gross, you get over it.) and swish it around in my mouth for at least 10 minutes (more detailed instructions here). Then I give my brain the opportunity to wake up. I make the bed (start with a win, remember?) or unload and reload the dishwasher, and just generally putter.
While decision fatigue is real, I do need that short period to wander around for a bit.
Light a Candle.
I tend my kitchen altar and light a candle for someone. I visualize them, send them love, and light it up. This candle is fairly new addition to my morning ritual, and I love how it makes me feel.
30 Grams of Protein.
I try to start my day with breakfast, even though I’m not usually hungry. I know I’m less crabby (and ravenous) later in the day if I get an early meal in.
I used to do some local farm eggs and greens, but because I’m not hungry, it started to feel like a lot of work. Now I just make a smoothie. Lately it’s been coconut water, a handful of spinach or kale, fruit and/or avocado, and 2 scoops NAKED WHEY. If it isn’t sweet enough, I add a dab of honey.
It helps to chew it. You feel silly, but that gets your digestion really rocking.
Cuppa tea and morning pages.
I grab a cup of green tea, get out my trusty ecosystem recycled notebook and just start writing. Sometimes its top of mind stuff, or what I want to do that day, sometimes it looks like word salad. Sometimes it’s a little of everything. I just write and write and write until the timer goes off.
I head upstairs to do some Yoga. I might practice in silence, I might turn on tunes. But I move, breathe, and relax.
I pick up the mala beads and sit down for a meditation practice. This is essential. If you do nothing else, explore a meditation practice. Notice the word practice. My brain rarely shuts up. But when I sit in meditation, I practice stilling it. I rarely succeed. But I practice anyway.
My Daily Desires.
I open up my Desire Map Planner and look at the day. It has a place for me to write down how I want to feel today, and I build my to-do list around that. It’s also full of affirmations that always seem to hit the spot. This is where I write my gratitude practice. I think of one thing that I’m grateful for, and write down 5 really specific reasons why.
Specificity increases the sensation of appreciation. -Danielle LaPorte
You can do the things I do, or you can create your own ritual from scratch. Google “morning routine ritual” to get you started! Use a timer, write it down, just make it as easy as you can.
It isn’t always easy, but damn, it feels good.
There are some challenges.
Every day is a little different for me. Some days I need to get up early and go teach a class at the Hospital or Senior Center, so my morning ritual needs to be shorter.
I don’t want to always start my day with electronics, so using the iPhone as ONLY a timer can be challenging. I’ve been known to roll over in bed to check Facebook (while snuggling the dogs), and it’s a tough habit to break.
Dogs. My fur boys like nothing better than to disturb my routine to knock stuff off the counter, tear stuff up, bark like banshees during my meditation practice, or beg to go outside. Lately, I’ve taken to sitting outside for part of the ritual, and laughing at their antics always helps too.
Be ready for things to trip you up, but don’t let them stop you. If you missed a day, start over tomorrow. My morning ritual changes as I need it to, yours can too!
ps. I want to hear from you. Do YOU have a morning ritual or routine? What do you do? Is there something you want to change or add? Click here and tell me!
Full disclosure: there are affiliate links in this post, I only affiliate with products that I use myself and absolutely adore.
photo by Death to the Stock Photo