Having a morning routine is the most important part of any day. It shapes the kind of day we end up having. We can either wake up and jump onto a moving train or get going before it even leaves the station. I've been practicing a certain morning routine that I believe helps me tremendously.
My day is always a thousand times better when I get up early enough to honor this routine. It makes me feel grounded, first thing in the morning and keeps me that way during the day. I've experimented a lot with different techniques, adding and trying new things until I found what works for me. My routine also changes slightly with the seasons. Here's one I've been following for the past few months, since the start of Autumn.
Early Bird Eyes
My brain wakes up at 6:15 with my Alexa Echo Spot playing a meditation music playlist. It sounds like a morning lullaby, gently forcing me to open my eyes and stare at the ceiling in the dark. Then my cell phone alarm goes off at 6:30. It's always plugged up across the room, all the way on the other side so I have to get up and turn it off. The movement wakes my body up, and by this time, I'm limping to the bathroom to pee in the dark.
I do not check my phone when I wake up. I will only turn off the alarm. I've learned that it's best to give at least one hour after waking up before checking messages or alerts on our phones. This way, we can become responsive, instead of reactive to outside influences.
Washing the Windshield
In total darkness, I walk over to the window by my bed and open the blinds to let the morning light in. From here, I'll light incense and crack the window to let the smoke out. The smell is calming to me and wakes me up a little bit more. On days that I don't want to wake up, I won't light it. Since most mornings, this is the time I'll get back in the bed and lie on my back with my eyes open.
After about ten minutes, I'll roll over to my altar (which is my nightstand and a chair) and light a tea candle. I practice Nichiren Buddhism, so as I sit at my altar, gummy eyes, gummy teeth and all, I begin to chant. This is my meditation time when I'll clear any residue my dreams may have left, sort out any initial morning thoughts and set my intention for the day.
Greeting with Gratitude
There's a notebook by the altar that I write in, every single morning. I write a gratitude list (things I'm so happy to be blessed with right now) and I'll write an intention list (what I imagine happening that day). Some mornings have more time than others to write an extensive list with details. Regardless, I do it at the start of every day, no matter what. It's made a huge difference in not just the morning routine, but in my entire life.
Only after chanting and writing can I then, and only then, go to brush my teeth and wash my face. Those initial things have to happen in order for my morning to start off at its most grounded state. If I skip a step, don't light the incense, or I don't chant, I'm irritable and reactive. I tend to snap at people early in the morning or I feel like I'm trying to catch up all day. With my morning routine, I am responsive and receptive to new information as if it were happening just for me, instead of happening to me.
If I have time after all those things, I 'll do some yoga next to my bed. I'll wake up even earlier if I have to be somewhere that will only allow a short amount of time. It's all about intuition. Your instincts will tell you what to do. If you want to be your best self, listen and pay attention to what that version of yourself looks like.
Be open to the time, and experimentation it takes to figure out what works best. Try new things, listen to your gut. What makes you a better person, before having to deal with other people? Sometimes it's jogging first thing in the morning, but I don't do that so much now that it's winter. Sometimes I need a rock song instead of soft, ambient sounds.
I'd love to hear some of the things you do first thing in the morning that gear you up and get you started in a fantastic way. Leave a comment below!