I haven’t always been a morning person. In fact, back in the day when I was working a nine to five job hiring senior executives for Fortune 500 companies, my work day didn’t normally end until after 6pm, when I would arrive exhausted, go to bed, and wake up the next day to do it all again. In those days, getting out of bed was a chore.
While my work was mostly fulfilling during that time in my life, I certainly didn’t carve out much time for myself, and this led me to often feel ungrounded and restless come the end of the day.
Once I realized the power of morning rituals, my days truly changed, and for the better. I felt calmer, more productive and positive, more grounded and with a sense of clarity. I realized that beginning my day immediately with my to-do list racing through my thoughts, and no time to pause, welcome the day, and set intentions, I was setting myself up for increased stress and irritability.
Until recently, I (like so many of us in this modern day world), reached for my phone first thing in the morning to catch up on Facebook, Instagram, e-mails…I needed my social media fix first thing. And don’t get me wrong, I still do sometimes. Also like anyone else, I am a work in progress.
Fortunately, I am proud to say that I have come a long way. I came to realize that I was feeding myself with energy from what was going on in everyone else’s world (which could be anything), instead of taking some deep breaths and tuning into my soul’s intentions.
In order to connect with my own intentions for the day, I made a conscious effort to undo this ritual. In fact, it can almost be seen as working to recover an addiction.
Now, my mornings look quite different, and look like this:
Meditation has been proven to decrease anxiety, help manage stress, feel happier and even prevent disease. One of the most important rituals of my morning is deep breathing, or meditation (depending on how much time I have). Even taking 5 minutes to take 10-20 deep belly diaphragmatic breaths (belly raises on the inhale, lowers on the exhale) can work wonders in centering you for the day. Whenever I can, I take 20 or more minutes to practice meditation, which is the art of recognizing thoughts as they occur, and letting them go, focusing only on the here and now. I am inspired greatly by Tara Brach, and use her guided meditations in my practice.
Instead of reaching for the nearest electronic device, I reach for my pen and diary, which I keep right next to my bed. The morning ritual of journaling has made a profound difference in how I experience my day.
The goal is to write two or three intentions for that day. Some mornings might be rushed (we’re only human), but even if I can only get down one intention, I consider that a success.
What has really inspired me (and I suggest you take a moment to check out), is this daily writing practice and morning pages that I’ve committed to for 100 days. It has made such a positive difference in my life, that I’ve actually extended my commitment to 365 days. And like everything in life, this doesn’t require perfection. If you end up skipping a day, simply go back the next day and resume, until it becomes habit. After only one month of consistent writing, I already feel that I am manifesting many of the intentions I set each morning.
And the beauty of writing, is that anything goes. I also find huge benefit in journaling about what I need to let go of, which is a refreshing and necessary release.
While I get ready to pack my daughter’s lunch for the day, I engage in anywhere from 10-15 minutes of oil pulling with a spoonful of coconut oil. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic cleansing ritual that is best practiced first thing in the morning. I use coconut oil due to its powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial benefits, and it is an excellent choice for cleansing toxins from the body.
It’s best to begin with the mouth, as this is entrance for everything coming into our body. Oils attract fat-soluble toxins, so an extra added benefit is that oil pulling reduces plaque and gum sensitivity. All diseases begin in the mouth, which is why maintaining good oral health is paramount.
Oil pulling also has been shown to boost our immune system. Here’s how:
- One tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil. I use coconut oil. Add turmeric for more detoxification
- Swish in your mouth for 10-20 mins and spit it in a trash bin
- Rinse your mouth with salt water and brush your teeth
Before brushing my teeth, I practice tongue scraping, which further works to rid the body of bacterias and toxins that accumulate on the tongue. Along with oil pulling, this is a winning oral hygiene combination, and an incredibly beneficial morning ritual.
Similarly to oil pulling, this is an important immune-boosting ritual. And, considering that up to 80% of our immune system is housed in the gut, it supports optimal digestion.
Typically, I have anywhere between 2-3 glasses of water, and alternative between these combinations:
Warm water with a food based vitamin C powder
Warm water with turmeric, lemon juice, ginger and black pepper
Warm water with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
Each combination is great for firing the digestive system, immune support, liver detox and supporting the adrenal glands.
GREEN SMOOTHIE WITH GOOD FATS
Next, I treat myself to a delicious and nutritious green smoothie. Here is my favorite combination:
2 cups of green
1-2 pieces of fruit (½ banana, pineapple or mixed berries)
2 scoops of collagen
1 scoop of a clean protein powder
1 tbsp. ground chia or hemp seeds and a dash of bee pollen
Unsweetened coconut or almond milk
**In the winter, I add warming spices such as cardamom, ginger and cinnamon
**Quick note when using greens like Kale, spinach, chard that are high in oxalic acid: oxalates are toxic, as they bind to calcium in our blood, where they form oxalic acid crystals that causes muscle pain. Large amounts of oxalates for sensitive individuals can also cause abdominal cramping and muscle weakness. It’s best to steam these greens before adding them to a smoothie. This can be done the night before. Steaming reduces the oxalic levels.
Last but certainly not least, I alternate my morning exercise ritual between Crossfit (2-3 times per week) and yoga.(balancing the yin and yang). Then, it’s time for post-workout nourishment, and work!
For more tips and tricks, check out the latest Forbes article on morning rituals for entrepreneurs.
What are your favorite morning rituals?