How do you start your day?
Do you have a routine or do you feel frantic and discombobulated like I used to?
For the longest time, when I woke up my mind was already on my to-do list for the day.
It’s was hard for me to handle the “hassle” of getting myself and everyone else ready for the day when my mind was already at work, and often feeling behind.
You could usually find me jumping between half-completed tasks, while trying to send emails and write notes to myself.
It’s the opposite of presence and didn’t start my day off very well.
Over the past year, I’ve been learning how much ritual grounds me. Particularly in the mornings.
How we start our day
When you think about it, the morning sets our mood for the whole day.
When you have a blissful morning where you sing like Mary Poppins as you float around the house, your day is more often than not going to be pretty awesome.
When you stub your toe and step in cat puke on the way to the bathroom… It’s likely to go downhill.
Now, you can ALWAYS turn a day around… But it is EASIER if you just start it off well.
And for someone like me who spends 90% of her life in her head – it’s important to get grounded in the morning or I feel unfocused and chaotic for the rest of the day.
So here are my 3 morning rules for an awesome day:
- Remove Distraction
- Build Rituals / Habits
- Treat everything as an Act of Devotion
Now let me break those down for you…
1. Remove Distraction // Stay off your phone
A big cause of stress I feel in the morning is in response to being addicted to my phone. I can feel the tingling desire for it first thing when I wake up. Who emailed me overnight? Who commented? Must respond!
But if you start checking and responding to stuff right off the bat, you’re already out of control of your morning, distracted, and putting out fires.
The most useful thing I’ve found to reduce phone distraction/corruption is to set rules for yourself.
My friend Tessa shared a good one with me recently from life and business coach, Justin Prince:
Stay off your phone for the first two hours of the day.
The first two hours of the day should be reserved for connecting to the people, animals, and things around you. Hug your babes, go for a walk, nourish your body. Dig your feet into the sunny sand of your life to anchor your mind and heart for the rest of the day.
One thing to help with this that I’ve done for years is to turn off all the notifications on my phone. Permanently. I never have social media or email notifications pop up on my screen. I have to physically go into the application to check it — which I try to only do twice a day.
Now you might think you NEED to constantly be available for your business or whatnot, and I know some people expect instant answers in this digital age, but most people I know respect and are inspired by those who set clear boundaries for themselves when it comes work/life/digital/real-life balance — because we’re all over-worked and over-stimulated. And real-life connection is so important.
As with any rule, you’ll be more likely to stick to it if you approach it from a place of INSPIRATION to make your life better vs. fixing something wrong with you. So think about and visualize how good you will feel if you can connect to your life, family, and nature in the morning without it. Focus on that feeling.
This rule has been super helpful in curbing my phone addiction and helps me feel so much more focused and cheerful in the mornings!
It’s also essential for the next two rules. Because it’s reallllly hard to be present if your brain is going at internet speed or already at work.
2. Building Rituals / Habits / Routines
One of the things that I find so distracting in the morning is making decisions. What to do, when to do it, what to eat, what to wear, etc. It’s all so overwhelming and I am NOT awake enough to be able to weed through all those variables.
I learned last year through studying Aryuvedic medicine that creating morning rituals and routines really helps if you tend to feel overwhelmed in the mornings.
There are any number of routines and rituals you could institute — from just ordering how you get ready in the morning, to committing to an exercise or spiritual practice. Here’s just one example…
The FIRST things I do when I wake up and how it influences my mornings:
1. Meditate – Before I even get out of bed I meditate for 5-25 minutes. Doing this helps me align my energy with what I’m trying to create in my life that day, it grounds me, and quiets the already whispering mind.
2. Scrape my Tongue and Brush my Teeth – Aryuvedic medicine recommends you do this first thing and before drinking water in the morning to remove any bacteria that built up the night before. What I have been most impressed with though is how much energy it gives me! By doing something like this first thing out of bed every day, it becomes a signal to the body that it is time to wake up and get on with the day! I rarely ever feel groggy or tired after I brush my teeth now and usually have a bit of pep in my step.
Another important aspect of this is it removes something from my morning to-do’s so I don’t have to think about it. This is huge for me. As an indecisive person, I can get lost in my thoughts pretty easily. So having a routine I don’t even have to think about is super beneficial for my morning flow and efficiency.
It’s something so small but it has really made my mornings a lot easier and brighter.
3. Make the Bed – This is one I have been doing for years but didn’t think of it as a ritual until studying Aryuveda. Making it first thing in the morning helps me feel accomplished off the bat and makes me feel so happy when I come to bed at night. No matter how crazy my day was, how bad of a mood I’m in, or how messy the house is, my bed is made and beautiful and ready for me to snuggle in.
4. Water the Garden – I love to water the garden first thing in the morning because (in addition to conserving water when it’s hot) it’s really important to me to connect with nature. I smile as I watch the bees start to buzz about on all the new flowers that have bloomed.
5. Feed the Animals (and Myself)- I do this next because it is something that I totally procrastinate on doing every morning, so it feels really good to get it done first and makes everything else easier.
Putting routines into place helps those of us with frantic minds be more productive and focused. We know what comes next and we don’t have to think about it.
Adding in those essential self-care acts — being in nature, moving your body, tending to your spirit — making THOSE also part of your morning rituals as well, will only help to further ground you in presence, peace, and joy for the rest of the day.
But setting your morning up right isn’t just about WHAT you do, it’s also about HOW you do it. And that is where Acts of Devotion comes in:
3. Treating Everything as an Act of Devotion
I often mention “Acts of Devotion” in my writings, which I’ve never fully explained. Someday soon.
Basically, it’s the idea that putting our focused attention into the actions of our lives — whether it’s brushing our teeth, doing the dishes, or meditating — that being FULLY PRESENT and purposefully completing tasks with love in our hearts, can change our lives, bodies, and relationships.
An easy way to do this is to treat every object as something sacred, then every task becomes an Act of Devotion.
These actions then become meditations. And as with meditation, you will receive the benefits of both the calm execution of the act and the post-meditation bliss. Plus you become way less clumsy.
As Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hang says in his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness, “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes…”
Washing the dishes to wash the dishes gives us respite from the incessant mind. It opens clear passages for inspiration and creative problem solving. It opens our eyes to our life that is unfolding in the present moment and all the beauty around us. It cultivates gratitude.
So each morning, be present with yourself and your objects as you shower, cook yourself nourishing food, go for a run, wash the dishes.
You will only root further into your soul so nothing can take you off track today.
Your Morning Bliss
What about you?
Do you think YOU could go without your phone for the first couple hours of the day? Try it!
What ritual or routine could you add to your morning? Maybe just start with one thing!
Practice being present when doing your morning tasks. Wash the dishes to wash the dishes.
Let me know what you plan to try and if it makes a difference for you!
Setting up a grounded morning is like seeing a contagious smile to the rest of your day. I really hope you’ll try it.
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Hugs and all the presence,