What is it and why would you want to create morning wellness routines?
Are there some mornings you just can’t get out of bed? Perhaps you’re laying there, dreading the day. Maybe you don’t know where to start on the long list of things you have to do. Your mind is running and you can’t isolate one thought from the next. Or you’re so overwhelmed that it’s blank, and you just can’t get moving in a purposeful way. And you find yourself wishing for an easy, fun day that brings you joy, or at least goes by without adding extra aggravation and draining more of your precious energy.
I’m curious – have you considered that you may be able to direct your day in such a way that it brings you satisfaction and a sense of joy in being alive?
This may sound far-fetched, even contrived. After all, wouldn’t that require the very energy and motivation that you’re lacking to begin with? If you’re skeptical, I hear you and it makes perfect sense.
I remember when I was a teen – and one of motivational speakers at my high school made the comment: “make this a great day!” My eyes rolled into the back of my head and I thought, “what a joke! Don’t they realize they’re making that impossible, by making me wake up early and come here and do all this stuff I don’t want to do?” And you know what? I carried that mentality into my adulthood. It was subconscious – I didn’t even realize I was running this self-sabotaging script! Really! For years I would wake up some days and have a sense of dread about all the stuff I had to do.
That was then. What does my morning look like now? Well – I wake up feeling grateful, energized, spacious and inspired. I have a sense of deep connection to purpose, and whether it’s a zero day or one full of activities, not a moment feels wasted. And when I teach my students, patients and clients about morning wellness routines, they report a big shift that can feel like “getting my life back”.
And guess what? It has nothing to do with living in a pretend world, or lying to yourself, or being in denial about any painful or difficult feelings or events going on within or around you. On the contrary – it has to do with embracing and being fully present for all of it. Only when we feel a sense of connection to ourselves and our world, as it is, can we endeavor to experience all the gifts life has to offer. You see, it’s not about make believe or psyching yourself out – it is about holding space for it all while discerning where to tune your focus and attention in any given moment.
Ready to take a little journey?
I invite you get some paper and something to write with and make yourself comfortable.
- Take a few notes about how you are feeling RIGHT NOW. Note any physical sensations, any emotions and feelings, and notice your overall mood. You can use the simple acronym PIES to check in with what you are feeling Physically, Intellectually, Emotionally and Spiritually.
- Now, recall a time when you woke up feeling glad to be alive. Perhaps something wonderful that you were really looking forward to was to happen that day! Maybe you woke up next to someone you loved and felt joy in their warm embrace. Or maybe, without any tangible reason or explanation you JUST FELT GOOD.
- Close your eyes and remember that morning. Recall what sensations you felt in your body. Maybe you are feeling them now. Connect to them, let yourself go deeper and really access that feeling state. What was true for you at that time? Write it down.
- Now, maintaining your connection to that feeling – notice any changes in your current mood, emotions and physical sensations. Write them down.
- Next, recall a morning when you woke up feeling miserable. Just a terrible mood. Really put yourself there and feel into it fully. Notice what happens in your body. And your emotions and current mood. Write it down.
- And now go back in time and remember a sweet childhood memory. Even if your childhood was difficult, try to bring to mind a time when you felt that sense of childlike wonder, excitement and innocent glee. Maybe you woke up and it was snowing outside! Or maybe something you were really looking forward to was to happen that day. Let yourself be immersed in that moment of joy. What are you feeling now? What is your body doing, or what does it want to do? Let yourself move to give it expression.
Harnessing the Gift of the Inner Child to Create Morning Wellness Routines
From this place of childlike wonder, go ahead and tap into a sense of curiosity about what your morning wellness routines would look like, and let’s create!
You see, there is a fun-loving kid alive inside each of us. No matter how much pain or difficulty we may have endured, or are perhaps in the midst of now, there is always a part of each human being that is radiant and inspired. I invite you to talk to that part of you now – and see what she or he wants to do each day for a morning wellness routine. Write it down!
You may have noticed by now, this isn’t your typical “how to”. And the reason I’m not diving into a list of to do’s (yet) is because each person is unique, and opening to inner creativity is the BEST way to move toward a personally motivated routine that will work for you. If I give you a prescription, well that would be a great way to shut down your creative process. And that’s exactly what needs to be awakened for you to have a truly transformative experience and develop a lasting practice to greatly enhance your experience of life.
I invite you to embrace this as your starting point. Give yourself permission to create your own adventure! There is nothing outside of you that is more suited to being the architect of your journey that your own inner wisdom. Befriend it, listen to it, allow it to guide you. It has always been your most faithful companion and will be your ally, always.
Guidance for Your Morning Wellness Routine Journey
That being said, there are indeed a few key factors that go into an effective morning wellness routine.
I remember, when I encountered that saying, “make this a great day”, again in my adult life. I was studying Yoga Therapy and my teacher – Sri Madhuji Sai, a profoundly practical mystic and Indian monk – instructed me to create a morning wellness routine for myself. His teaching wasn’t that a “great day” meant I was to be cheery and light. His teaching was that a “great day” was one for which I was fully present for my life’s unfolding.
And you know what? That landed. It made sense to me because it accounted for the fact that I might be feeling sad, or fearful, or angry…and that was OK! And it IS OK, because human beings are complex and we have a wide spectrum of emotions. A wide spectrum of moods! And all deserve to have a place in our lives for they are what make us whole. I don’t know about you – but I was clear that I did not want to be living a partial or fragmented life.
And so, borrowing partially from the 8 limbs of Yoga, I went on to create my morning wellness routine. The 8 limbs are basically principles of practice and include things like observances, postures and meditation.
This is what my morning wellness routine looked like:
- Upon waking, I notice any thoughts, emotions, feelings and sensations. Whether positive or negative, wanted or unwanted, acknowledge them. Then say a quick prayer of gratitude for getting to wake up to sense and feel for it means I am alive, and there must be a good reason for that.
- Lay on my back and place my left hand on my heart and my right hand on my belly, and simply be with the rise and fall of the breath. Giving time to slowly transition from the sleeping to the waking worlds.
- Write down any dreams, along with associations. (These would later have significance as I learned dream analysis from a Jungian and Chinese Medical perspective. They offer SO MUCH insight and powerful messages from the psyche. Dreamwork can indeed be healing and hold long sought answers to the most pressing questions).
- Find a spot in the grass, or bedroom or living room floor and do some gentle stretches. Move all the joints, stretch all the muscles, and let the body move in any way it wants to that particular day.
- Practice breathwork. Allow the lungs to awaken and circulate prana (life force) throughout the body.
- Recite Mantra. Ganesh mantra to clear obstacles, any other Sanskrit mantras that were indicated for me based on my unique astrological configuration. Also, mantra to activate and clear all the chakra centers, knows as Chakra Dhyana.
- Meditate. This was the time for communing with the divine, for accessing deeper inner wisdom, and for tuning in to any messages, insights or directives from my higher self.
- Make a list of intentions for the day. This included the to-do’s, as well as general desires and aspirations.
As I began to do this morning wellness routine, reluctantly at first, I started to notice some important shifts:
- My day began with a purpose. This meant that all the little brain worms (of worry, fear, doubt and dread) that would usually have center stage in my mind upon waking, had to sit in the audience instead. After a while, it became easy to bump them off the stage, anytime.
- My days saw profound connection. When I took the time to connect with myself and with my spiritual practice, I stopped feeling like life was happening TO me. I noticed that more and more I was having the experience that life was happening FOR me.
- My life filled with gratitude. I started to see the interconnectedness of everything in my life. Instead of feeling confusion, I tune in to the guidance that was coming up like a wellspring from within me. And it turned out that in me were a LOT of answers!
Because I started each day with acknowledging my reality, I was validating and honoring myself. I didn’t have to rely on anyone or anything outside of me for a sense of belonging or purpose!
Because I moved my Qi (aka lymphatic fluid, blood circulation, energy), I felt invigorated and alive.
And because I took the time to listen to my inner wisdom, I started to get excited about what she was going to reveal next. Life began to really feel like an adventure that I WANTED to show up for, fully.
This was many years ago. I was in my early 20s and felt like I made a huge discovery. Indeed, I had! My inner world was replete with treasures. I stuck with it for quite a while and started teaching all my Yoga students and 4th graders about the importance of developing morning wellness routines.
And then came a time when I noticed I was skipping my morning ritual. I also noticed that it became so robotic and habitual that it lost its meaning. That sense of connection and joy I had in the beginning was gone, and I thought, “eh, what’s the point? Some days are good and some are bad anyway, who cares if I don’t do this thing that doesn’t come with any guarantees anyway.”
And you know what? I was hearing this from my students, too! Actually, some people never even started or got into their morning wellness routines because they didn’t feel a connection from the start.
Terrified to admit this, I hesitantly approached my teacher with the news. Fully expecting to be chastised, I was amazed to have been met with kind laughter.
“That’s OK!”, he simply replied. “It happens. Just connect with the divine (inner wisdom) and ask what’s going on”.
Ha! What a relief!
But…but wait. I felt disconnected, which is why I stopped doing it regularly in the first place. So, I’m supposed to just reconnect? Just like that?
Something didn’t sound right. And what I realized is that I was being challenged to take the reigns in my own life. That’s right – no more hand holding. A part of me, the little girl, wanted to pout and cry and stomp my feet. And I let her. For a little while.
Very quickly another part of me showed up. She knew that she had what it takes. She felt empowered by this appointment, as architect of her own life. Not the victim of circumstance – she is the one who has a sense of self regardless of circumstance. That’s right – this, my inner Queen, who reigns sovereign over her domain
I had never met her before – nor knew that she even existed. Yet here I was, receiving the gift of this incredible discovery all because I reached a roadblock and asked for help.
Everyone’s journey is unique. The discovery I made may sound familiar to you if you have made it before. It may be one you make along your journey. Inevitably you will make many discoveries of your own that will illuminate your individual expression in this life. And that is just the point of developing a morning wellness routine!
Why do it?
- It’s a great way to get the most out of your life.
- It energizes and fills your body with health-promoting endorphins.
- Because you are worth it.
Suggested Elements for Morning Wellness Routines
- Prioritize ALLOWING yourself to gently transition into wakefulness.
- Spend time tuning in to your PIES – how do you feel physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually?
- Stretch and/or exercise to get your circulation going.
- Meditate and listen to inner guidance.
- Hold counsel – check in with the various parts of you and find out what they all want/need that day. This is a KEY element to staying balanced so that no singular agenda overruns everything. When that happens, other parts of us suffer greatly.
- Make a list. Even if it’s one item…or even if it’s 20. Write down your intentions and aspirations for the day, and check them off as you go. It’s OK if you don’t accomplish them all! The point is to live on purpose…and that is achieved regardless of the finish line.
Be creative and plan your own routine! Know that it can change and be adjusted at any time.
Finally, re-visit some of your key points before you go to bed at night. Nighttime wind-down routines look quite different from morning wellness routines. However, taking the time to look over your day reinforces awareness and a sense of living fully. You’ll be able to track what parts of your routine are having a positive effect on your life, so you can tap into them more and get the most out of your every day!