In the previous post, I shared with you why closing your night on a good note is critically important to having a great tomorrow.
Ok, so hopefully you have started building the habit of an intentional nightly ritual just before bedtime. Neuroscience informs us that a lot many things happen in our brains while we are snoozing – processes that reinforce our memories, learning as well as predominant thought patterns. So, your nightly ritual is sure to create some new neural pathways that shape your life. Kudos to you!
Now, let’s look at what you can do in the mornings to capitalize on the advantages gained from your nightly ritual.
But first, you may be thinking, what all this fuss about having rituals?
Why should you create routines?
The simple answer – as much as 40% of our day is made up of habits – those habits that became part of you either unknowingly or by choice. If you live for 80 years, 32 of those will be you playing out those habits developed over time. Think about it. How would you like to live 32 years of your life mindlessly doing stuff without realizing its effects?
Lao Tsu advised,
“Watch your thoughts, they become words,
Watch your words, they become actions,
Watch your actions, they become habits,
Watch your habits, they become character,
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
Now, what are habits? They are rituals practiced over a period of time until they become second nature. The easiest way to build habits that serve our purpose is to intentionally build rituals into our day. So they become automatic and second nature.
So we don’t have to go through the torment of making wise decisions again and again with each new day.
Now, back to morning rituals. The rest of our discussion here hinges on the following principles:
- The first hour after you wake up is more powerful than the other 23: what you do in these 60 minutes will influence everything that happens during the rest of the day.
- Immediately, on waking up, your body absolutely requires 3 things – water, protein and movement. (I credit Darren Hardy for this insight)
- The mindset and energy you generate in the morning will stay through-out the day.
With these principles in mind, let’s look at some specific tactics to include in your daily morning ritual:
- Immediately on waking up, take a couple of minutes to connect with your spirit. Say a small prayer or send out some gratitude mentally. Then, smile.
- Then, launch yourself into 15-20 minutes of exercise. The goal here is to break a sweat, work your lungs to draw in more oxygen, and to stretch your muscles and joints to break the lethargy of sleep. I recommend Yoga, Surya-Namaskar, running, walking, doing weights – anything that will immediately revv up your Basal Metabolic Rate, get the blood flowing and kick-start your engine.
- While you are at it, do some breathing exercises as well. A lot of 21st century health issues can be attributed to faulty breathing and poor oxygenation of our bodily cells. Pranayama is great. If you are not trained in pranayama, some simple abdominal breathing will do good.
- After this, it’s time for some refreshing water to enter your system. A lot has been documented already about the amazing benefits of this simple habit. Drink 2-4 glasses of water at an easy steady pace. Warm water is good to stimulate metabolism in the morning, but if you prefer cool water, go for it.
- Then, while your body is cooling down, meditate for 20 minutes. There are several meditation techniques….the simplest ones involve witnessing the flow of your breath or simply becoming aware of your body and bodily sensations.
- After that, it’s time for some mental saw-sharpening. Go plan your major to-dos for the day (or if have already done it the night before, review your list). Get clear on your most important action for today. Or write down your thoughts and reflections in a journal. Write 4-5 lines (not more) about how you intend this day to play out. Or pick up an inspirational or instructional book and read a few pages to bring yourself into the right mindset.
- Then, go and have a champion’s breakfast. Make sure that most of it is high quality protein. Go easy on the sugar and avoid fried stuff. Your brain and body need healthy breakfast full of protein to function well for the rest of the day. Don’t compromise.
These 7 steps will fuel your body, mind and soul and will help chisel you into great shape all around. If you make this ritual a part of your scheme of things, the results you get in a few months will be nothing short of amazing.
Do write to me about how this works out for you.