A few years ago I finally decided to try my hand at meditation. The stress in my life was starting to get the best of me. I had eliminated all the stressors I could, but I was still lacking a practice for mitigating the stressors I couldn’t eliminate or that were out of my control.
I found that meditation helped a lot with managing my stress, I was just not consistent about it. I would commit to doing it and be consistent for a week or two, and then, inevitably, I would hit a streak of craziness in my life and my meditation practice would get pushed to the side. This was ironic, as these exact situations, when life gets crazy, is when I needed meditation the most.
After some self introspection as to why this was happening I realized that as my day went on, I had less and less control over my time and if I didn’t set aside a time to do my meditation it would never happen. The obvious solution was to set aside time in my calendar to meditate.
However, despite my best intentions in scheduling things and laying out my day, unforeseen situations would come up causing me to push aside the time I had set aside to meditate.
Inevitably, I would find myself, once again, laying in bed, stressed, not having done my meditation.
I was frustrated! 😖
Ultimately, I decided that I have to not only set aside time to meditate, but to set aside that time when I had the most control over my day.
When did I have the most control of my day?
First thing in the morning.
So I decided to move my meditation to the beginning of my day, and made it one of the very first things I did after waking up.
At the time I am writing this article, April 2020, I have meditated for 65 days in a row! More than 2 months straight of meditation.
This illustrates the exact value of having a morning routine. If you are like me, and your days are packed full of tasks for others (work, family, clients), the morning time is one of the few times during the day where you can focus on yourself. The first few hours of your day is a time that you own. You are not at work, your family is often asleep, your mind is fresh, you haven’t been distracted by outside influences like the news or social media, it is your time.
Before I get to some tips for establishing a morning routine, I wanted to throw out a word of caution for you Type A personalities that are already thinking of how they can squeeze more out of themselves.
DO NOT WAKE UP EARLIER TO FIT IN YOUR MORNING ROUTINE WHILE STILL GOING TO BED AT THE SAME TIME!!! If you need to get up 10 minutes earlier, go to bed 10 minutes earlier than normal. In reality 10 minutes may not be a huge deal, but if you are sacrificing an hour or more of sleep, that can have a negative impact on your health.
OK with that out of the way, here are three tips that will help you establish a successful morning routine for….
First decide on what you would like to include in your morning routine. Meditation, reading, mobility work, exercise, a walk, sauna, water painting, drawing, there is nothing too big or small to include, it is completely up to you.
Next decide how much time you would like to spend. My only suggestion would be to start small. Don’t shoot for 30 minutes of meditation when you have never meditated before, instead do 5-10 minutes. Don’t try to hit a 1 rep max on your deadlift after rolling out of bed, maybe just do some light romanian deadlifts with a kettlebell at first. Similarly don’t try and establish a complex morning routine to start with, there is no reason to try to meditate, read a book, workout, and go for a walk when right now you are doing nothing.
Pick one or two things and set aside 10-30 minutes to do those things.
I find it useful to have something to keep you motivated. For me, I want to say I have meditated for 100 days straight. 100 days isn’t significant in any way, it is an arbitrary number. What I like seeing is the number go up everyday. Maybe your goal is to finish a book a month, or maybe it is to be able to squat to 90 degrees without your heels coming off the floor. Whatever the goal is, track your progress, this will keep you motivated to continue to make time for it in your morning routine.
The good thing about a morning routine is that it is all about you, so it is flexible and under your control. Experiment, see what works, refine, and repeat for as long as you like. Then switch it up, move things in or out, make it longer or shorter. There are no rules, make it your own
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