I’ll tell you right now, I’m a morning person. Before you start throwing things at me, let me say that by “morning person,” I don’t mean that I spring out of bed with a smile on my face and get my To-Do list completed before 8am. Haha...no no no no.
It takes a lot of self-cajoling and caffeine to make it happen, but I consider myself a morning person because even though I have to drag myself out of bed when my alarm goes off (my husband would add here that it takes about 4 alarms to get me up), I feel significantly better throughout the day when I give myself some Me Time before the world is awake.
When I was a high school teacher, I had about an hour commute (because, Los Angeles), so in order for me to have a real morning practice before work, I would usually get up somewhere in the 4am hour.
I know, I know, that’s insane. But there is something so delicious and sacred about this extra-early morning time that it became something I craved. And I’m in good company in feeling this way.
Take poetry goddess Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Early Riser,” in which she talks about the necessity of time in the early morning to bring energy and purpose back to herself. Who here hasn’t felt like they spend their day attending to chores and other people? Without this early morning time for herself, she is “a crumb of talk/ stuck to a plate.” I feel her on that one.
In Kundalini yoga, the two and a half hours before sunrise are called “ambrosial hours,” and are said to be a special time for spiritual practice. The energy of this time is super-charged for reflection, meditation, and self-enrichment. In short, mornings are the ideal time to connect with yourself.
Now, what does this morning connection look like? It can be anything you’d like--anything that lights you up, brings you into yourself, and energizes you before the day takes you away. You are in charge. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Morning Pages: This tool from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way” pretty much has a cult following (search #morningpages and see) and is the foundation of my own morning ritual.
What are they? According to her website, “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages…[they] provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
Meditation: Since mindfulness and meditation are “buzzwords” right now, it might be easy to brush them off as fads or just something trendy, but if you do, you’d be doing yourself a disservice.
Meditation is an ancient practice, and it’s been around forever for a reason: it freaking works.
Don’t get bogged down with all the different types or labels or fancyass cushions, just find a comfy place to sit, close your eyes, and listen to your breath for a few minutes. If silence is too terrifying (or just not your jam) try guided meditations. Personally, I use the Insight Timer app and love it! You can search thousands of guided meditations or sit silently and use the timer so you don’t have to check the time.
**Tip: Meditation is NOT about silencing your mind or clearing your mind of all thoughts. That’s not realistic nor is that the point. When a thought comes up (or a river of them), acknowledge it, then let that shit go and come back to your breath. Do this over and over. You got this.
Card Pulling: A few years ago, I bought Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Love Notes guidance deck, and I’ve been a card addict ever since. I use my oracle, guidance, and tarot card decks for daily card pulling in which I close my eyes, take a breath, ask a question (usually “What guidance do I need right now”) and choose a card intuitively. Nearly 100% of the time, whatever card I pulled is applicable to my life somehow, shines a big fat light on something I didn’t want to see, or gives me a loving reminder that I needed to hear.
What I love about these types of decks and daily pulling is that it is a tool to help me tap into my intuition and bring to the surface what I already know inside. If you’ve never dabbled in card pulling, I highly suggest it, just make sure you find a deck that resonates with you visually and emotionally. Along with the Crazy Sexy Love Notes, Elena Brower’s Art of Attention deck is awesome, and Starchild Tarot is a favorite. Recently, I’ve been digging the goddess energy around me, so I’ve turned to Soulful Woman Guidance Cards and Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance Oracle Deck.
Inspirational Reading: This can be anything, but I recommend something short that will either inspire you or get you thinking. This could be a spiritual text, a book of poetry (my personal go to), a book of affirmations or quotes, anything. The key here is to have something that is not an assignment or a requirement--it should be something you feel called to read that day.
When I choose a poem to read in the morning I’ll usually choose a book of poetry off my shelf (I just go with my gut), and then like the card pulling, I close my eyes and open the book to a page intuitively and consider the poem a little morning gift from the universe.
Sometimes I have the luxury of doing all of the above practices, and sometimes I barely squeeze in one, but even on days when the latter is true, I’m better off than if I’d let the morning slip away without connecting with myself. So whether you try any of these ideas or make up your own, I urge you to grab a cup (or barrel) of coffee, light a candle, and give yourself the gift of the morning, even just once, and see what magic it brings you.
Already have a morning practice? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!