Mindful Morning Routine

Anyone who knows me know that I have a deep reverence for mornings. My life at present is such that, if I rise early enough, I have several hours of solitude before the work of the day begins and I must be in the presence of others.

These few hours are priceless to me. My husband used to ask me why I surrendered sleep to wake up before sunrise. Why not, he asked, just sleep as much as possible, hop out of bed, shower, and head to work? It took some explaining to help him understand why that’s not an option for me.

It was an option at one time, when I was younger. For years I did just what my husband suggested: I’d hit the snooze button over and over, then leap out of bed, grab some coffee, shower, dress hastily, and run out the door to get to the newsroom.

My days began in tension and chaos. From the moment I was actively conscious, I was going full bore. My adrenaline was pumping and my thoughts were racing. I started worrying about the day’s deadlines and remembering the prior day’s problems. I didn’t give myself the gift of even a minute of peace.

This turbulent energy, which I created first thing in the morning, every morning, always followed me throughout the day. It absolutely set the tone for the day. I had no idea of the power of thought, and how a mind, primed for imbalance and stress, would act as a powerful magnet for imbalance and stress. The science of mind was completely foreign to me, and I had long since bought into culture’s message about how a successful person’s day ought to start.

Then, Buddhism found me. I began studying the science of mind. I began meditating in solitude. The Buddha’s teachings on impermanence took hold. I learned about the fallacy of self, the illusion of money, the lies about ‘success’, the truth about compassion, the need for boundaries, the vital need for solitude, and the importance of being of service.

The Dharma showed and continues to show me about solitude as a requirement for the work of deep personal growth. Solitude encourages focus and brings energy. It brings us back to center.

The more time we spend in solitude, the better. There are Buddhist monks who go to the mountains and spend years alone, doing deep work. Those who don’t, spend hours each day in meditation.

There are some lucky people who are natural entrepreneurs, and who engage in work that feeds their minds. But the rest of us, the working class like myself, have 9 to 5 jobs that we just don’t resonate with. Jobs that are nowhere connected to nature. We’re not of service to the world with these jobs, but we choose them anyway, and do our time each day.

That’s a reality many of us face. It’s so critical, then, that we create a division between the reality of our days working for someone else and sacred time alone, working on ourselves. Mornings are the time to do this.

My morning starts with a hot tonic, usually involving coffee, and a few minutes alone with my husband. Then, I go off alone. I do skin work with essential oils (I’m passionate about the power of plants to heal and rebalance us), water, charcoal, and other plant-based medicines. I deep clean my skin in each morning.

Each morning, I read some of the Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching is a beautiful book, full of insight and wisdom. I’ve been reading it for years.

I meditate alone each morning. Fifteen minutes is about my average: when I first started morning meditation, I thought the longer I sat, the better. But after 30 minutes or so, my mind begins to wander, and the dogs get restless waiting for me. Fifteen minutes turned out to be right for me.

I’ll poke around the house, clearing dishes from the night before, emptying garbage pails, making the bed, watering potted plants, and checking the garden. Sometimes, I’ll put in a load of laundry. Occasionally, I’ll hop on the computer and check email or message a friend. When I feel like it, I’ll do some easy yoga. Rarely, but sometimes, I’ll listen to music. My current favorites are Swedish guitarist Arterium, New Zealand guitarist Matiu Te Huki, and fusion artist DJ Drez.

I dry brush, then shower, sometimes using the neti pot. I love water. A shower in the morning helps me come back to center. Then I dress, make a mineral-rich green smoothie, and start the day.

The routine is comforting. Meditation and reading starts my mind off on the right foot. My skin care routine cleanses my body and rids impurities. A hot tonic gets my body moving and creative juices flowing.

With this, the day starts - and ends - in mindfulness. The morning has set the framework for it all. It’s a powerful practice that has radically changed the way I experience each day. As I said, it’s priceless.

This morning, I found two green beans on our bean plants! That’s super early in the season. I gobbled them on the spot, right in the garden. Now that they’ve started, they’ll start coming in faster. My favorite garden treat is a raw green bean, right off the vine, still warm from the sun.

Today is July 11. We’re in the heart of summer, and the food gardens are about to start bursting with veggies. The squirrels haven’t taken all the peaches off our trees, so we may get a crop. I found a great recipe for garden-fresh salsa, and as soon as the tomatillos appear, that’s what I’ll be eating. Our birdhouse is home to another young family (that’s two so far this year), and the babies start begging for food at dawn. I love their voices. Everything is good, loves.

Live in peace.

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