5 Morning Rituals for a Better Day, and Better Life
Are the most important moments of the day those before the sun rises? These days, I’m beginning to think so. I typically go to bed between 9 and 10:30, and in the dark, winter months I tend towards 9 to 9:30. Which means, I wake somewhere around 5am, which gives me a good hour and a half or more before sunrise. I typically light a candle, drink water, make coffee, and meditate during this time. The apartment is quiet, and I can take some time to reflect and de-stress my mind, especially if I’ve had a poor night of sleep. I haven’t always been a morning person. But, over the past few years, I’ve trained myself to be. And I like it.
This morning meditation ritual enhances my life in so many ways. I’m more patient, less stressed, and more grounded and at peace. There are many morning rituals you can make a part of your life. They’ll make your day better, your week more enjoyable, and your year the best it can be. Let’s take a look at a handful of them, and see if one (or more) appeals to you.
I really can’t say enough about my morning meditation routine. It has become my safehaven like no other practice I do. In fact, it’s become more important than my yoga practice. For real. This is because yoga isn’t the only form of exercise I do from day to day. But, nothing competes with my meditation practice.
It’s one of the best parts of my day, if not the best. I wake up, turn off my sound machine, (which is just an app on my computer,) then light a candle. I go to the bathroom, make coffee, drink a glass of water, then begin my meditation practice, coffee in hand. I love this early morning ritual. The kind of meditation I do is known as mantra meditation. It comes from India, and it’s really simple.
I sit in a cross-legged position, close my eyes, and take several deep breaths to tune in. Then, I use all my senses to get even more centered. What do I hear? What do I see? What do I taste? What do I feel? What do I smell? I ask myself these questions, which is a simple technique in the mindfulness practice.
For the next 10-15 minutes, I repeat a mantra over and over again. I do it in my mind’s eye. Although, you can whisper it or speak it out loud if you prefer. For me, it feels right to do it silently. Mantras are personal. And you can choose the one that fits for you. I’ll let you in on my secret. Which means I’ll let you know what my mantra is. It’s…
This is a Sanskrit word which basically means surrender. This is the one that feels right for me and it’s the only one I meditate with. But, there are hundreds to choose from. Satya, Om...the list goes on and on. Mantra meditation is only one example of a meditation style. There are many to choose from. Do a little exploration and pick a style that suits you. All I suggest is that you do it first thing in the morning, before you start your day.
One of the primary tenets of yoga is breathwork. Known as pranayama, yogic breathwork, when done on a daily basis can truly enhance your life. It’s a powerful tool for stress relief. It can also help you cultivate focus and mindful attention, which we all need more of these days. Living in a distracted world makes it difficult to work sometimes. And cultivating mental focus through breathwork has never been more important.
There are loads of different breathing techniques from which to choose. And all of them have different aims. Want to simply relax? There’s a pranayama for that. Want to fall back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to your zzz’s? There’s a pranayama for that. Maybe you need some uplifting energy in the late afternoon. There’s a specific pranayama for that, too.
If you’re wondering how to energize yourself throughout the day, do a breath of fire sequence. This is a rapid staccato breath that’s practiced in kundalini yoga. I do it in the morning, as a great way to clear the mind and start the day. I also do it in the afternoon if I’m feeling sluggish. Breath of fire is one such ritual you may want to do each morning to ignite your inner fire.
Move your body
Everyone needs a morning exercise ritual. It’s just that simple. I tend to take a brisk walk in the park for my morning movement. No matter what the weather is like, I think a brisk morning walk is the ideal morning ritual to create a better day and better life. Some other ideas are:
- Morning yoga
- Morning Pilates
- Morning burst training
- Morning weight training
- A morning bike ride
- A morning swim
- A morning cardio routine
- A morning barre class
- A morning dance class
In the summer months, if I have access to a pool, I love swimming in the morning. It really sets such a lovely tone for the day. When I lived in Hawaii, I swam or kayaked in Kealakekua Bay each morning. What a treat!
Journal for gratitude and reflection
Ever heard of Julia Cameron’s morning pages? This was a technique for creative types that became popular years ago. I practiced morning pages for a while, but slowly grew away from the habit. Nowadays, I simply write in my journal each morning for 5-10 minutes. This journaling routine emphasizes gratitude, as I’ve found that journaling about all that you’re grateful for can truly make for a better day, better week, and better life.
If you need a prompt, all you have to do is this:
“3 things I am grateful for this morning are…” Then fill in the blank. Expound upon each thing you write down, to truly appreciate what you’re grateful for. Wayne Dyer once said, “Once you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I think this really applies to your morning gratitude journal. You may be really annoyed with your roommate, boyfriend or girlfriend, best friend, child, or spouse.
But, take some time to list all the reasons you’re grateful for them, and you begin to see them in a different light. It’s a powerful technique that can really improve your relationships. And it can be a part of your morning journaling ritual. So I say, buy yourself a beautiful journal—one that you’ll love to look at and write in. Then, set a timer for 5 minutes and write about what you’re grateful for. This is a great way to start the practice!
Get outdoors and feel the peace of nature
One of the best ways to attune your circadian rhythms to those of Mother Nature’s is to get outside and take in some sunlight in the early part of your day. This is a good idea if you have trouble falling to sleep at a reasonable hour at night. It’s also a great idea if you want to become more of a morning person.
Getting outside, getting the sun’s natural vitamin D, and breathing in the fresh air, and perhaps even watching the sunrise, are amazing ways to get grounded for the day. You really feel the stillness of the earth. You hear the birds waking up. You feel connected to something greater than yourself. The Universe is full of beauty. And early mornings in nature reminds you of this.
I have a 75-acre city park just down the street from my apartment. Many mornings, I make a point of getting outside no later than 8am, to take a morning stroll around the park. I love the peace of the environment, the feel of the early sun, and my neighbors walking their dogs. The world is waking up, and you’re a part of it. I find this to be a wonderful antidote to SAD (seasonal affective disorder), too. Just get outside, take a walk, and say hello or wave to your neighbors if it’s too early to mumble a word. We all need connection. Even a smile is all it takes.
If you’re not used to getting outside in the morning. Start slow. Take a 10 minute walk, and do it for a week. See how you feel at the end of the week. Does this ritual make you feel more grounded, more connected, and more at peace with everything around you. Take some notes in your journal and see what comes up when you answer these questions.