This past week, I tried out a new morning routine.
As an embodied "wild woman" archetype and a strong Aquarius personality, I tend to rebel against quotidian rules and conventional "boring" routines. But it turns out that I really thrive when I have more established structure in my life.
Since moving back to Mexico last October, my time has been left fairly unstructured... all my creative work generally determined day-to-day. However, without effective frameworks of accountability, systems of function, and "boring" foundations of organization in place and working, I devote more energy towards deliberating "boring" basic operations and have less energy on "wild" innovative creative decisions. It's kind of like the effect of having too many options and not being able to choose any... Sometimes more rules can actually be more freeing. It's certainly a Catch 22.
And while from the outside it may seem mundane, your morning routine has the potential to be a spiritual experience.
The word spiritual contains the word ritual, as well as the latin root spir-, which means breath. The breath is a literal and metaphorical sacred interexchange of dual and opposing forces. Breath is the interconnection between us and everything around us. It is our very source of life. Spirituality then becomes a breath, a flow, an intention, a ritual practice, imbued into the very fabric of our lives.
"Practice" implies repetition. Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit." Life as a practice denotes a willingness to show up and a commitment to consistency. It signifies a foundation of self-love, a letting go of perfection, and a level of faith in ones experience. It paradoxically suggests that we be gently firm and fiercely compassionate with ourselves along the journey.
"Practice" also alludes to the necessity of failure. The heroic journey that is our experience is full of beautiful gifts and lessons, often disguised as crises and tragedy. Fail has become a four-letter-word, a trigger point implying a point of no return. The ability to fail, face dead ends, slip ups, pain, and collapse, is a part of the great mastery of our wild lives. We have the power to choose the paradigm from which we experience failure... either rejecting it as curse or embracing it as a necessary step on the path.
In sharing my own routine with you all, I would like to acknowledge that it is one that serves me and my lifestyle. Sometime we can fall deep into the trap of comparing our own lives with the lives of others. We construct our measure of self worth against our ability to fulfill certain external conditions, rather than from a wild and infinite source within. We can often get down on ourselves when we don't "measure up."
Please bear in mind that I am functioning from my own unique circumstances and I am constantly adjusting and rewriting the rules I create for myself. I challenge you to experiment a bit with your own morning routine and see what works for you, personally.
Rachael's AM Routine
- Upon waking around 6:30am, I begin to slowly inhabit my body and my physical space. I drop into the feeling of grace in my heart. I smile, look out my window, and say, "Thank you." I've come to love the energy of the morning. I especially love the time around sunrise, when the veil is thinnest between the worlds. I generally try to avoid connecting to the internet or checking any e-mail during this time.
- In my kitchen, I prepare some warm fresh squeezed lemon water for a morning detox. Drinking warm lemon water helps to wake up and flush my digestive system. It's also a great energy boost for the early mornings. If I feel like it, I'll put the coffee on or boil a pot of tea.
- Back in my bedroom at my altar, I light and smudge some some palo santo. Connecting with this South American plant wakes up my sense of smell and initiates a sacred space for my day. I also pull a card from one or all of my oracle card decks. These cards usually reveal a story or a lesson to be conscious of while I move throughout my day.
- I go back to the sitting room and sit and journal for a few minutes, allowing the words to flow naturally. Some days, this journaling comes out as a poem. Others, it's more of daily reflection. I usually follow this up by listing a few things I am grateful for, my daily intentions and desired feelings, and my three most important tasks to accomplish that day.
- At this point I will usually go brush my teeth, floss, and oil pull using coconut oil, an ancient ayurvedic practice to clean and cleanse my mouth and teeth. While swishing with coconut oil for 20-minutes, I make my bed, tidy up a bit, and get dressed.
- Consistent movement is key for me to feel well. Some days I will take a morning walk for about an hour, getting my feet in the sand at a nearby beach. As one of my favorite writers and transcendental philosophers, Henry David Thoreau, said "A morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." My walk is followed by a stop at my favorite coconut stand and a quick chat with the man who cuts my coconut, Cesar. Other days I will get in a quick 20-minute high intensity interval workout to give my metabolism a boost and get the energy flowing in my body. Follow this all with about an hour of yoga and 15-30 minutes of meditation, and I'm set.
- Finally, I'll shower and follow up with a self massage using coconut and essential oils.
The days I've committed to this morning routine, I've noticed a significant difference in my mood, presence, and sense of wellness throughout the day. It makes me feel more grounded, centered, and focused.
That being said, I'm not obsessive over my routine either. If I have to miss it one morning, I don't feel shameful or anxious or bent out of shape.
Our morning routine can promote physical health, by way of slowly and easily waking the body and engaging in a morning movement practice. Morning routine (insert: ritual) cultivates structure and invokes balance. It marks the ending of the previous day and the beginning of the next.
A morning ritual a symbolic connection to the cycles of nature and the rhythms embedded in your life. The intention and the tone for the rest of the day are often set in the earliest hours of the day. The routine you establish is also your own creation, so there is a sense of ownership.
Morning rituals can imbue your life with a deeper, sacred meaning. They need not reek of religious dogma. What is most important is to make a morning routine beautiful and meaningful to you. Give it your twist.
The morning ritual contains the seeds of your goals, the aura of your intentions, and the reflection of your values. Because you come back to them, every day, the morning routine has the power to help you build trust in yourself. Through your morning routine, you have the power to create the person who you want to be and the change you wish to see.
And maybe the success you experience from an extraordinary morning rests in the ordinary-ness of it all. Maybe it's just that morning cup of coffee... or the love note you leave in your partner's or your child's lunchbox. Whatever serves and guides you, allow that to open your day.
Do you function best with a set routine, or a free schedule? Do you have a morning routine, a "start your day" ritual? How does it affect your daily experience?