I know I’ve written about this before and it’s on my mind again. I have made additions to my morning ritual in the past few weeks and have noticed a difference in my life. For many years I have cultivated a morning ritual as a way to ground myself in the day and give myself time to set an intention. Meditation has been the cornerstone of that ritual. Other practices have come and gone and returned at different times the main ones being writing, reading, breathing exercises and asana. I know that no matter what I need to meditate, even if just for ten minutes. Meditation is such a part of my life that these days it doesn’t even occur to me to skip a session – of course that too will come and go ;)
I used to be the kind of person that woke super frazzled. I was irritated, extremely hungry (thanks to eating so much sugar and processed foods), and always late for something. I also hated, hated getting out of bed. I would hit the snooze button for like an hour and then of course be late. I’d throw on clothes, grab a Pop Tart and head to school or work or whatever appointment I had that morning. It didn’t seem odd to me because that is how I lived. It wasn’t until I started making small changes to my life that I learned how fulfilling it can be to have a morning ritual. After years of practice it has become a working part of my life that I cannot imagine how I lived without it for so long – not to mention how resistant I was to change in the beginning!
Changing our patterns and behaviors is not an easy task. I have a great deal of respect for those that can recognize they need to change certain things in their life and go for it. I know for myself I like to be comfortable, who doesn’t? It is very normal and human to want to be comfortable. It only becomes an issue when we are unwilling to take necessary action to change because we would rather be comfortable than do the work. And believe me. I have been there.
The more I have practiced meditation on a regular basis the more I can see just what lengths I am willing to go to have my comfort. It’s humbling really. A big one I am working with these days is letting go of control. I like to control stuff – it gives me, guess what, a sense of comfort and of course security. It’s futile I know because the only person, place, or thing I have any control over is myself. Deep down I know this to be true. That doesn’t mean I always let go. I let go so much more than I ever have at any time in my life and this to me is part of the journey. It’s ok that I want to control people, places, things, mostly people really (hahaha!), the work comes in taking an opposite action from what I might want to take, relaxing and being fully present in the moment. When I am in the moment there is nothing to control. It’s so brilliant and easy and effortless to just be present.
When I started creating a morning ritual that was based in self-care gradually the frantic way I entered the waking world each day began to shift. I cannot remember the last time I woke up afraid, anxious, or depressed. Even bigger, I look forward to the mornings and to waking up each day. I set aside about an hour and twenty minutes each morning (aside from an asana practice if I am not going to the studio that day) to do my practices and I cherish that time I spend with myself. It is my time to nurture myself and for me it is precious. The mere fact that I allow myself that much time each day for nothing but self-care and spiritual development shows me much I have grown.
In the past I could never give myself such a healing gift. I was always rushing from point a to point b and it never occurred to me to slow down and give myself some undivided attention. In the beginning it was such a challenge. Like I said, making life changes like this, especially for those of us that are over achieving multi-taskers, takes work but mostly it takes discipline. The word discipline was not a foreign concept to me. I had a great deal of it. I quit drinking, went to a prestigious graduate school at a young age, got jobs, etc I knew that aspect. However, when it came to my personal life in the realm of self-care and love I was completely clueless. Hell, I even knew how to take really good care of others, like really good care, but I always left myself out.
Putting my needs before others has been part of this process regarding taking time for myself in the morning. It is all connected. Ultimately the more I care for myself the more I am able to be there for others and not in a co-dependent way, in a selfless way. Very different ;)
I encourage you to think about creating a morning ritual if you don’t have one already in place. It can be as simple as setting aside ten minutes each morning to light a candle, read an inspirational quote and sit still following your breath. Alternatively you could drink tea and write in a journal or stretch and do some breathing exercises. It need not be elaborate or complicated —what matters most is the discipline and the intention, even more so the discipline as our intentions can change. If we can commit to taking even a small amount of time for ourselves each morning our lives will begin to change and will be become more and more of who we are meant to be.
Photo: Marielle Chua