Mornings are exquisite in their red-lit glory. They ignite the senses in every way; the smell of fresh dew on the lawn, insects perfecting their quiet, the lavender wonder of the day yet to arrive, the taste of gratitude for yet another, and that feeling when you realize after all this, your heart is open and full and it feels just right.
Slowly, I move through the sequence of my morning. I rise early with the pup and commit to a few non-negotiables. While I love my slow morning ritual, I'm undecided whether not I'm a 'morning person'. I'll give you a hint: I need many hours' time before I should be let loose to interact with other humans, partner included.
Do you relate? Raise your hand if you can't receive calls, make appointments, or begin functioning properly until the clock strikes noon (i.e. 1:30pm).
So, you can imagine how serious I am about perfecting the slow in my morning ritual, eh?
Yeah, it's wicked slow.
I believe in mornings and I believe they must be savored. That's why I resort to a slow morning ritual, rather than just a routine. Routines make you feel like you have to do something. A ritual makes you feel like you want to do it, like you're indulging in a super-secret series of pleasures, and you want to savor it all to yourself.
Okay, so mornings can be spent together. And when your beloved rise with you to greet the day, it can be the most precious indulgence.
Personally, I love to catch the constellations in the sky at 5am (when they are their brightest against the darkest sky), or the sunrise at its infancy, and I prefer these moments in solitude. It happens to be my direct line to the universe and I require privacy in its abundance when calling upon my guides.
As women, we owe these moments to ourselves. It isn't selfish, or outlandish that we choose to take the first breath of morning in our own company. Sometimes the only way we are able to give to others is by skimming the cream off the top, taking the first lick.
Top o' the mornin' to ya, m'Lady.
And by the way, God gave mornings to women. We are the care-takers, the nurturing ones, the booboo-kissers and problem solvers, the breasts that feed, and the hearts that spill warmth and discernment. We hold the world in our arms, but first, we must let the morning hold us.
Nestle your gigantic brain into the bosom of your slow morning ritual. You can hear its heart beating...
Did you fall back asleep?
Rise and shine, Babe, we're working on a development, featuring Y O U.
Before we begin, answer me this: what's ONE thing you love about mornings?
Well, that ONE thing is likely to be your driving force for stearing you out of bed every day, and not back down that linen-laden tunnel you call 'bed'. It's important that we stay on track here, because I don't want you should-ing all over yourself and phoning it in because you think someone else knows how to conduct your life better than you do.
You are your own conductor, your own guide, the master of your time & energy. You do you, girl.
And don't apologize.
Let me give you some perspective.
I don't wake up at 5am unless there's a pretty good reason for it. These days, my puppy's bladder is about to burst by then, so we dash out of the house together (I know, already we're straying from 'slow') and wind up on a patch of grass. On our way back I look up into the great black expansion above me and I notice the unmistakable Star Sisters in their glorious arrangements of light.
It's breathtaking, and I actually have a reason to be grateful for not stumbling off my staircase and face-planting into the pavement on my way down with a 20lb. (angel) beast in my arms. Aside from, well, being grateful that I didn't face-plant at all. But in that instance, I find relief; better yet once I return to my apartment where a gushing of 74°F envelopes me, protecting me from the frozen temps of my morning excursion.
At this point, I don't want to wake up and smile in the direction of the rising sun. I want to secure my enthusiastic pet in his kennel, pull my eye mask back on, and sleep until the birds chirp wildly from inside their tented cage. I don't want to fling my hair about in a rapid cat cow sequence, or spend 20 minutes oil pulling, or meditate for 22 minutes in my favorite chair, which I don't even have.
I want to sleep, and I want to get to doing things when I feel it's time to get to them.
Are you still with me?
It's so important that we listen to what our bodies, minds, and hearts need. It will be different for each us of us, and that's the best part. I've tried all the things, and without having a WHY attached to what I do, there is no way I commit to anything. If there isn't a benefit that I believe is crucial to my well-being, or essential to bringing me to life, then it's over. And trying to make something fit that doesn't isn't only insane, it's a sure way to reach exhaustion and feel as though you've failed.
Now, be kind to yourself.
"Failure is just an event. It is not a characteristic. People can't be failures." - Judge Victoria Pratt
At this point, all the suggested morning routines I've tried just haven't quite worked. Surely, bits and pieces have stuck, and those are the bits that have become non-negotiable to me. What's better, is that they are simple and they help me to feel fresh, alive, and even awake! But the best thing? I've strung them together to create my slow morning ritual.
My slow morning is sacred to me because it's the gift I give to myself that allows me to build a strong foundation for emotional intelligence, ease, and that grounded, centered self that I want to show up as in the world. It begins slowly. And how I take care is contingent on how I feel in my body, after I've checked in with Kayla to see how she's doing.
This is what I prescribe for you too. Check in. Make a deposit in your name, first thing upon rising in the morning. Take your time. Give yourself that space and quiet. If you live with a rowdy bunch of monsters, then you already know what you need to do now: wake up before them. Greet the kitchen before there are crumbs on the countertop, or paw prints on the tile.
Heck, lie down on the floor in the shape of a human. Eat warm toast while sitting on cool granite. Let the temps mingle until you've reached comfort in your environment. Say yes to you, if even for 15 minutes a morning.
Since I've got sass enough for the two of us, I bet you're wondering how I have so much energy already. Well, what the hell, I'll give ya the low-down.
Ha! You're brilliant, and yes, I meant 'slow-down'. Now, I'll share with you my three morning delights, but then I want you to tell me yours. Promise?
I believe you, and since I can't properly see you, just show me with a CLICK:
Now that we've gotten those out of the way, which I'm still savoring, I want to throw out some inspiration for you to catch and examine. Once you've held each idea in the palm of your hand, gently brushed it along your cheek, given it a little coo, and looked it in the eye, I want you to decide if you're delighted.
Sometimes, it takes three consecutive days to decide if you're into something new. It's a learning process. So what if you didn't finish Yoga with Adriene's annual 30 Days of Yoga in January. Let it go.
There are other things, and here are some:
Mornings are for:
Connect with God, Source, the Universe, Mother Earth, your spirit guides and angels, your loved ones who have crossed over to the other side...Connect to any higher intelligence and say good morning. Thank them for being here with you today and express gratitude for all they do for you, all the dots they connect for you.
Connect with your heart center by touching your hand to your heart and feeling the exchange of warmth there. Feel rooted from your tail to the core of the earth, a connection strengthened in easy pose. For some, it may not initially be so easy. With practice, everything gets easier.
Connect with your body, give it a soothing touch, an embrace around your shoulders. Run your fingers through your hair, coaxing the hairline awake, massage the tender areas of your face, tug on your ear lobes. Give some attention to your hands and feet, greet them kindly and say hello.
Connect with your lover, your partner or spouse, your children, your pets, your roommate, and all your dear ones. Embrace them, kiss them, pet them, look them in the eye, greet them in your own secret language, and feel the warmth of your connection to all these important parts of your life, your entire existence.
You are not alone. You are connected, and whole, and complete as you are. As a packet of stardust, wild in your dispersement.
Bathing in the morning is the best because it's so serene and even more private than a nighttime soak. The bathroom is all yours, and the tub yours to dream. I'm all for a quick shower first thing, but what I've in mind is a good ol' fashioned feet-up-head-back kind of start to the day. Water is so feminine, a flowing, adaptable element that gets us out of our bodies and releases all things ego, judgement, and shame.
In the swelling tubful of wonder, we can discover our desires, what we most want to manifest next.
If your fortunate enough to live near the ocean, or a natural body of clean water, go bathe in the sea, trust-fall into the arms of a spring, dip your feet into the rippling water of a creek, splash your face with gathered drops of rain, scoop the wonders from an ancient fountain in the palm of your hand.
Take a cold shower. Start out warm, and then give yourself a good blast of cool to seal in all that vibrancy you want in a face, all that shine you want in your hair. Wrap yourself in clean, warm towels; sigh. Life is beautiful. You are beautiful.
Gently touch your feet to the floor and give your heart a moment to catch up to your rising body. Wake up your knees, rubbing your joints clockwise to get them lubricated. Stand tall, with your heart open, your shoulders down and back, and reach towards the heavens, palms open to receive. Stretch to one side, and then the other; bow, reaching towards the earth that supports you. If your body allows, fold your hands to cup your toes and feel that deep stretch in the backs of your legs. Feel the blood flow to your head and through your limbs.
A brisk walk outside is sure to get the juices flowing, lighting that fire inside, bringing you to life in the crisp morning air. Get your heart rate up, notice as your hair thickens and shines bright; little to moderate exertion will suffice.
Show up on your mat for a sun salutation or a series of your favorite foam roller moves to wake up the spine, abdomen, and give some love to your arms and legs (gotta love those limbs). Hit the gym, show up for your morning yoga class, meet up with a friend for a run, take the stairs, play your favorite exercise video online and sweat in the comfort of your sacred space.
I fully advocate getting our bodies moving in the morning, and all throughout the day. Even dancing to your favorite song or playlist can do wonders in lifting your spirit, and your mood. I also believe in the energizing effects of adaptogens, which, in place of caffeine, naturally energize without causing you to crash come afternoon. Some of my slow morning favorites are ashwagandha, chaga, cordyceps, and maca.
Love making, that is. Spend time being close with your partner, spooning, cuddling, nuzzling, or just sharing that intimate hour waking up in complete contact. Even just with your eyes or simply scooting closer together in a duo-generated heat space under the covers. Stretch, smile.
Love on your loved ones throughout your home. Speak sweetly to your plants, animals, and children. Tidy your home, for love's sake. Lovingly prepare a meal for yourself and others. Set the table, use an organic cloth napkin, light beeswax candles, brew something magnificent for all to enjoy. Wrap yourself in a soft blanket and scoot around in your slippers while you sprinkle love all throughout your sacred space.
Open your blinds and shades and love what you see outside. Love your sheers and curtains and the privacy and ambience they provide. Turn on the gas fireplace and love the light, love the flame. Choose to do something that you love, and if you don't love doing something, do it lovingly anyhow and see how it makes you feel. Give it new meaning. It is not you. You are love, and you have love to give.
Create something with your hands. Imagined creations are just thoughts, and they don't count until you've put them into action, until you've brought them to life in energy-form, at the very least. Rise early before work and spend an hour on your passion. I love the story Elizabeth Gilbert shares in Big Magic about a friend of hers, who wakes up one hour early every morning with her partner and the two of them draw together before work, just because they love doing it so much.
Creations don't have to be grand, world-changing contributions, nor do they need to be finished to hold value. Just create. Brainstorm an outline for a blog post; choose a theme for a novel and go nuts into research and keyword-ing the shit out of that story; whip up something simple and nourishing in the kitchen; create space for yourself in this quiet hour; create a new tradition, and invite someone to amplify this experience.
Create a new healthy habit, one that serves you, one that inevitably serves us all; create one new sentence or haiku or poem that speaks to what you feel in this moment. Creating is for everyone. It isn't only reserved for the artists and writers or inventors and trained professionals. Be playful; play. Tinker with something; Fix or repair something. Create a dialogue with someone who shares your beliefs, your zest for life, your zest for an important (or unimportant) topic.
Create an opportunity for gathering, for community; give to but a bulb and watch your creation come to life; nurture an existing creation; create a family in all its many forms in honor of you and your unique design. Create a sacred space, and develop a slow morning ritual.
Sungaze at sunrise, just as the sun lifts above the earth into view. Within the first hour of rising (and within the hour before setting) the sun's ultraviolet levels are zero. This is the ideal time to exchange glances with our day's true light. Give it your attention, and it gives you in return the stimulation of melatonin (our circadian-rhythm hormone) and serotonin (our well-being neurotransmitter).
According to Nadine Artemis in her book Renegade Beauty, "Sunlight enters our eyes and stimulates the pineal gland, which is connected to the hypothalamus, where sun-energy triggers vital magnetic, electrical, and chemical reactions in the human body." She suggests starting with just 20 seconds a day, and even covering up one eye to reduce squinting (and crow's feet!), then alternating; add a few seconds every day and in three months you'll have built up a 15 minute practice.
Bake bread in the morning; set out croissants to rise overnight, delay start your oven, and bake-awake your home with the smell of buttery blessings. Bake breakfast in ramekins or a casserole dish, a concoction of what's around and what's sound. The natural warmth of the oven will have all come running to gather round.
If preparing a breakfast stovetop, turn your oven on the lowest setting and place a plate inside; turn off the oven once it's acclimated and arrange pancakes or french toast, as soon as they reach their golden doneness, onto the plate in the oven to keep warm until serving.
Brew coffee in the slow ritual way. Grind your beans immediately before brewing. Choose a bean that's been roasted just two weeks prior for the best flavor. Always swirl freshly boiled water into your vessel before brewing as this creates a warm hug for your coffee to be blossomed into life. Brew through an acid-free, chlorine-free filter, if using. Be present for every step of the way.
Brew tea in the slow ritual way. Use fresh, organic, quality tea leaves. Choose a tea that you enjoy, that evokes your senses and awakens your spirit. Boil water to your tea's unique temperature. Be patient. Breathe calmly while steeping. Say a prayer. Close your eyes. Breathe the sweet tea aroma into your lungs and exhale the great love within you to share. This is your ceremony.
Brew golden milk in the slow ritual way. Slowly heat the milk and all your combined spices; add your healthy oil and honey, if using. Stir occasionally, on this occasion. Pour into a tall vessel, add your favorite adaptogen, and combine all ingredients with an immersion blender. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into your favorite mug. Top with a pinch of spice, as you wish // sip sun.
Water your potted lovelies, and your legged loves all around. Shower your garden with sufficient drinkable life. Stand out there in your wellies, or embrace the earth barefooted as you bring to life all that nature prescribes. Admire your co-creation. Provide a clean bowl full of water for the furry and feathered babes. Blow kisses their way. Shower them with affirmations; if it doesn't work for you, know that it works for them.
Journal your dreams. Consider their meanings. Do they mean anything? Have no judgment. Settle into a comfortable chair or cushy nook, and let your hand write you a narrative. It doesn't have to be real or accurate. It's wonderful realizing how many words and word sequences you know; how fun it is to journal upon new ones.
A slow morning ritual offers you the space to ponder everything that you feel. Write down the magic that you experience. I love to write in the mornings because it's as if I'm writing a whole new day for myself. I'm setting the tone. Much like a meditation practice, I'm honing in on the present and I'm unprotected by filters of thoughts, of words, of feelings; they all come rushing through my being and out the ballpoint of my pen. Brilliant.
Read something uplifting; pick up where you left off; read about a method or resource that can advance your professional life; read a book, for pleasure (as all reading ought to be, eh?); a great novel just can't be put down, and it's highly acceptable, albeit required that you spill out of bed in the morning and find the sentence that thrilled you, reading over paragraphs already read, just to gain the momentum like new.
Read a cookbook for pleasure; Shannon Ables is onto something when she suggests having books around all your favorite reading spots in the house, and that there's fulfillment in reading kitchen diaries and reading through cookbooks, not as a chore, but as entertainment. Besides, you may even stumble across seasonal meals that work perfectly into your meal planning. Enjoy the unhurried, non-desperate ritual of dog-earring and bookmarking and flagging of simple, delicious recipes.
Read the newspaper. If you are passionate about being a well-read citizen of where you live, or if you prefer the goings-on elsewhere, pick up a paper. Even better, retrieve a delivered print from your mailbox, as expected through your favorite subscription service. Read a magazine that inspires you for the day; tear out a page that speaks something interesting to you, or give it to a friend or coworker to brighten their day.
Listen to the natural sounds of the morning. If you aren't so fortunate to live in a grassy, riverside meadow set deep into the highlands, sometimes just imagining that you do can solve much lusting after. Unless you prefer the sounds of a sleepless city, the wakeup call of construction outside your home, the humming white noise that makes you feel less alone, less in-your-head.
Listen to soft jazz or playful classical music. Play a tune of your own. Put a record on and engage with a sound so singular. Listen to a morning playlist that causes inexplicable sensations to flow through your being. Don't try to explain it. Just listen, feel. Music is movement, and thus allows for perfect company in the morning hours.
If sound overwhelms your day, practice a noiseless start. If where you live makes it difficult to sit in the required silence, invest in quality noise-cancelling headphones. It isn't ridiculous, it's crucial. Know your environment, and adapt accordingly. Sound can be heaven or hell and you are the responder, the curator of a better morning. Listen to your heart.
Meditate in any form that appeals to you. Consider an empowering white light meditation, guiding star meditation, or attending a Kundalini yoga class regularly. Sit quietly in your home and bring your attention to your breath, guiding it into a gentle rhythm; count to four as you inhale, hold for four seconds, and exhale on a four-count. Exhale for upwards of eight seconds and notice the difference in how you feel.
Meditate using the Calm app, which I prefer, or subscribe to another favorite, perhaps free, online source. One of the most practical methods is to simply set a timer for any desired length of time and meditate to your favorite soothing sounds. I love rippling water, whistling birds, and pouring down rain. A tailored ambience. Get into your body to get out of your head.
Thoughts prove that we are alive. Not all thoughts are important. It's okay. Rest easy knowing you will train your mind to serve you on your wellness journey. Develop a ritual that holds meaning for you. This is your practice. Live in alignment through your choices.
Have you picked up each cute and furry little thing? Tried them on for size?
Go on, I'll meet you back here in three days.
*three days later...*
Welcome back. How did it go? Any surprises? Did it take all three days for something to stick? I would love to read about your experience. I would love to know what slow morning rituals you already love and enjoy. Enlighten me. Give me a taste of your authentic morning sipping sun.
If I've lost you along the way, fear not. We all spent time in darkness until we've gathered ourselves and made it into the light. Follow that shining star until you, too are wrapped in the empowering white light of your own decision-making. If you prefer developing in a nut shell, then continue reading.
How To Develop A Slow Morning Ritual
The one thing I want you to know about developing a slow morning ritual is to keep it slow. Slow for you may be like quiet molasses. It may be like intentional thunder. You are not like anyone else, and thus your day will begin in alignment with your singular personality, your mood, your predisposition, your preferences, your desires, your physical requirements, and your personal style.
There is no wrong way to be who you are. You are magic, and the more you try to wear someone else's hat and shoes, the better you will become at quitting, at becoming exhausted and overwhelmed by the should's of society. Should you choose you over anyone else, you'll be doing yourself a favor. In turn, you'll be that woman who everyone looks up to, is mesmerized by, their can't-put-their-finger-on-it girl crush.
Not giving a damn what anyone thinks, whether not they like or approve. Your slow morning ritual will feel good to you. You will get lost along the way, and you will find your footing, over and over again. This is life. You go in and out of seasons in which one thing feels good and then isn't a priority any more.
You'll have non-negotiables and then all others that adjust according to the energy shifts throughout the year, temperature changes, traveling, working, new projects, and all the in-between lives we live. Go with the flow. Change as the leaves do before falling off onto a new adventure. Life is only as meaningful as you allow in this moment.
Be who you are, and always strive to reach your most centered, and aligned self. Reach your highest vibration. For you; for the planet.