I’m a huge fan of creating personalized daily rituals for healing. The act of setting aside time each day to do something, anything really, that supports health, happiness, creativity or connection can be extremely transformative. Students and clients often ask me about my morning ritual, so I thought it would be helpful to put it in writing.
For me, morning is a sacred time. I naturally wake up super-early and have worked hard to give myself the luxury of starting my workday later than the norm. I’ve learned to do the things that are most important to me first, while my energy is high and before the demands of the day can interfere. Morning rituals are a perfect match for my constitution and lifestyle. Other people prefer to use their lunch hour or evening, and that’s great too. It’s important to figure out what works best for you, otherwise it just won’t stick.
Twenty years ago I began with a simple mindfulness meditation, gentle yoga, and affirmations a la Louise Hay. That worked well for me for many years, but eventually I was led to experiment with different techniques. I began gathering tools to support my intentions and explored the myriad options available to me. Sometimes I got lost down the rabbit hole, like a kid in the cereal aisle, unsure of which colorful box to choose. Other times I rebelled against the routine and chose to improvise instead. The only thing that really matters is that each and every day I show up for myself in some way.
I still find it challenging to remain devoted to a daily practice while keeping it flexible. My needs are constantly evolving, so my ritual needs to evolve as well. By no means does this need to be a rigid process. Spiritual practices can be designed to bend and flex to fit your uniqueness rather than forcing you to conform to dogmatic tedium. There’s enough of that in our culture already; we needn’t impose any more upon ourselves in the name of healing! If it feels like a chore, you won’t want to do it. If it feels like a blessing, you’ll be eager to engage.
Another crucial element to building ritual is protecting the time to nurture, nourish and empower yourself. Being on a healing path requires us to become part guard-dog in order to stick with the plan and not get drawn into unnecessary drama. It’s not always easy, but it really is quite simple. All I have to do is ask myself, “Will this decision promote healing?”
I think of my practice as the vehicle that carries me to my destination. Obviously to get there, I need to know where I’m going. Synchronicity along with my intuition, emotions, and dreams can guide me along the way. Meditation and journaling are the tools that I use to get clear about where I’m going. And as my goals change, I can correct my course anytime.
My intended destination is a state of being. I’m aiming for vitality, inner peace, creativity, resilience, and pleasure. You might have a similar destination. Or not. The format remains the same even though this is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. The methods that I’ve chosen are highly personalized to meet me exactly where I am. I’m not wishing to lead anybody along my unique path. I’d rather inspire you to find your own.
Keep in mind that I have no dependents and have chosen an exceedingly simply lifestyle with a low overhead, which enables me to spend a few hours most days tending to my well-being. Not everyone has such privilege. Please don’t compare yourself! Do what you can with what you have. You might need to be hyper-selective in order to find the most efficient techniques. Remember that choosing mindfulness, compassion, and kindness at any moment is a gift to yourself that takes no time and minimal effort.
Alright. Now for the ritual that is currently working for me.
Before I get out of bed, I do some simple breathwork while saturating myself with Reiki. I take a few moments to tune-in to how I wish to feel that day and really let those sensations sink in. I acknowledge any worries or circumstances that could interfere and apply Reiki to them as well as to my desires. This is a short, but powerful exercise that sets me up for a truly beautiful day.
I write down my dreams as soon as I get up. I’ve been using the voice memo function on my phone to record my dreams, which tend to arrive at an inhospitable hour, and then transfer them to a journal when I’m ready to turn the light on. It’s a work in progress, but so fruitful I’m eager to continue working out the kinks (mainly my resistance to taking action when it’s so easy to fall back asleep!).
To support my goal of creativity, next I turn to Morning Pages a la The Artists’ Way. Three hand written pages on no particular topic. I follow up with another 30-60 minutes writing of a productive nature. Believe me, I don’t always feel like doing this, but I know if I put it off, I’ll get distracted and neglect it. Writers write. It’s just that simple, so most days I go straight to my desk before even steeping the tea.
By now my body is clamoring for attention. If at all possible, I head to the woods for a walk. This slot used to be filled by yoga, but I’m finding that I get greater rewards from being in nature right now. It was a struggle for me to accept this since yoga has been a staple for me for decades. I’m sure it will find its way into my daily routine again sometime.
If weather permits, I’ll bring my tea with me and drink it sitting on a log by the creek. This is incredible medicine for me and the peace and joy I experience is well worth the effort and multiple layers of gear it takes to enjoy the outdoors during the winter in Pennsylvania!
Now it’s time for breakfast. I’m all about solid nutrition and nourishment from real food and love to enjoy a simple, yet hearty meal. At the table. Without any screens. Radical, right? But this sets me up to have steady energy and a stable mood, so most days I am able to resist the pull of my smart phone.
I used to think that if I was lucky, I’d get some time in for reading before work. I’m now recognizing that books (whether for inspiration, entertainment, or learning) are a great benefit to my creativity. If I’m unable to carve out time in the morning, I feel somewhat off, so my next upgrade is to secure time every day to indulge my inner bibliophile, especially with material that engages my imagination. Let’s face it, I don’t need any more practice being serious!
Yes, this is generally a four hour process. For me, it is my calling, my healthcare, my hobby, my passion all rolled up into one package that I have the blessing to enjoy each and every day. It’s taken two decades to build the lifestyle that gives me exactly what I need to be joyful and well. Each and every step along the way has been necessary to get me where I am today, and I couldn’t have gotten here if I hadn’t decided I was worth the effort and taken a series of baby steps that got me going.
Whatever your path, wherever you’re beginning from and going to, you can benefit from taking one small action today to support yourself. It could be as simple as three mindful breaths or turning off the TV. Because you’re totally worth the effort. So why not give yourself the best possible chance to be as healthy and happy as you are able?