Create an Intentional Morning Routine
There is a sacredness that is found in the first moments of the morning. While it may feel overwhelming to change your entire morning routine in one day, consider slowly adding components to it that will set the tone for your day.
When the first rays of light gently creep across the sky, the birds respond by welcoming the day with song. Gently at first, and then with unbridled enthusiasm, bird song will be your morning wake-up call if you have trees near you. There is a sacredness that is found in those first moments of the morning. Watching the sun rise is a powerful experience that can bring a feeling of renewal to the day and a sense that anything is possible.
Unfortunately, many of us do not have a habit of setting an intentional tone to our day. We are often startled awake by an aggressive alarm clock, stumbling into our day—often late—with a hurried sense of scrambling.The always present ‘smartphone’ is also generally right near the bed, and often accompanies those first moments of our day, bringing the news, or other people’s ideas or requests into our awareness before we’ve even had a chance to become fully awake.
How we begin our day sets the tone for the day, and often dictates how it unfolds for us. Linnea Dunne, whose new book Good Mornings: Morning Rituals for Wellness, Peace, and Purpose came across my desk, offers an array of inspiring ideas for starting your day. It got me thinking more deeply about how I begin my day, and has encouraged me to make a shift in this important routine. Committing to creating a new and meaningful morning could look like this:
- Begin with the Breath. We all have a default breathing pattern. If we have not designed it intentionally, it could be a pattern that is not designed to fill us with oxygen and energy for our day. Mouth breathing is common, and results in shallow breathing, (instead try the practices described in "The Power of the Breath to Calm"). Your breath is intimately linked with your nervous system, and activating your parasympathetic nervous system—also known as your rest and digest system—will let you start your day in a calm and grounded space, (read how in “Train Your Nervous System for Calm”).
- Create Powerful Positive Imagery. If you have been starting the day catching up on the news, scrolling through social media, or checking email, you are putting yourself squarely in the path of other people’s agendas. Consider creating affirmations that you start your day with. You may meditate with them, or simply repeat them a few times to yourself, (read “10 Affirmations for Honoring Your Body” to get you started.) You might also consider spending time writing morning pages, journalling, or writing poetry, (this poem “take an ache, make it sing” may inspire you to express your emotions through poetry.)
- Awaken the Body with Intention. I have been dealing with back pain on and off for many years. Some days I have to hobble myself around for a while before I warm up enough to move normally. Rather than pushing through the pain, it can be helpful to have a morning program to gently engage and create space in the body. Before getting out of bed, stretching and moving the body can feel so luxurious, but doesn’t need to be reserved for sleepy Sundays. Once we get out of bed, adopt a practice that will enliven the body, maybe a walk, (or perhaps you can try “Waking up the Spine”, or go deeper with “Releasing the Emotional Roots of Back Pain”.)
- Spend Time with Nature. The benefits of having nature in our lives have been proven by countless studies. If we live near nature, we can walk out into it in the early morning hours, or spend time sitting and meditating surrounded by the natural world. We can also benefit by bringing nature to us, (read the article “How to Invite Wild Sacred Nature into your World”). Another beautiful way to engage with nature is interact with it in a more personal way, (try this beautiful practice described in “Being in the Presence of Change”).
While it may feel overwhelming to change your entire morning routine in one day, consider slowly adding components to it that will set the tone for your day. If you are rushing through the morning, slowly wake up a few minutes earlier each day. Start with practices that give you a gentle start, perhaps those that keep you in bed for a couple of extra minutes, breathing, stretching, and creating a path for an inspired day. As those moments expand, you may be drawn to adding more intention to the rest of your morning.
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