The Menu Of My Morning Routine
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
I think it’s safe to say that every human being has a morning routine. Even if one purposely decides not to have a routine every day, then, well, that turns into a routine too.
Since I really enjoyed to write down my personal meditation practice – and the discovery of its value – last week, I am now curiously embarking on this next topic. Curiously because I haven’t really decided on what (not) to share; I have merely decided to let the words flow. The topic being my morning routine.
It hasn’t been that long since I became aware of the value that a morning routine carries for me. Now that I am aware, though, it is as if I have discovered a new gem in my life. My morning routine has become a challenge for me, as in I do my best to keep it interesting, and a rock of reassurance at the same time. Every day I wake up, I receive the gift of life yet again, and I give myself a bonus on top of that: my morning routine.
WHY Stick To A Morning Routine?
I know most people will tell you that a morning routine sets you up for the day, but I’m not sure if I agree. My days can take turns and corners that no morning routine can prepare me for. Moreover, it’s the practice of the routine itself that counts most for me. I never think about what it will do for the rest of that day, I only care about what it does for me in that very moment. And what it does, is this:
it keeps me sane
After waking up, if I give my brain more than 10 seconds of a momentum, it’ll automatically present me with worry, fuss, and other illusions. So I give it another topic instead: the menu of my morning routine – I’ll come back to this. As meditation is part of my routine, this also maintains my mental sanity.
it strengthens my self-confidence
Everything and anything that we know is good for us, and we manage to keep up, gives us a boost in self-confidence. Yay, another day where I kept my promise to myself! Basically this is what discipline entails: to set an intention on doing something, and to hold myself to that intention.
it keeps me in shape
Exercise has become a continual part of my morning routine.
Taking into account that the routine is done daily, it all adds up to Warren Buffet’s “compound interest”:
“Anything that you want to achieve takes time and consistent effort and you probably won’t see any results at the beginning. You have to just keep going anyway.”
It’s performing the morning routine that matters in the moment; it’s sticking to it that makes a difference in the long run.
WHAT Morning Routine Works?
Now about that menu of my morning routine.
Even though it’s “only” been a few years since I really clung on to my morning routine, I have been experimenting with it quite a bit. This means that I’ve had numerous practices that were part of my morning routine, and I have been trying them on for a significant amount of time. Simultaneously, I would keep an open mind for other practices, so when I got tired of one particular practice, I’d replace it with another one.
By now, I have experimented with so many different practices that they have turned into menu items for me. It has created the flexibility of knowing enough practices that I can choose to do one according to what I feel like doing.
You see, through the same experiments I also discovered that I am more likely to quit my routine if I stick to the exact same practice(s) over and over again. At first, when a practice is still new, I enjoy the challenge of getting the hang of it – combined with a healthy amount of frustration, I’ll admit. For instance, when I started doing 30 minutes of Hip-Hop Tabata I’d trip over my own feet and got way too exhausted. But then, after a week or so, I got the hang of it and loved being able to keep up with the ladies in the video. However, another week later, I started dreading the very same exercise. It felt like an elephant path in my brain, I knew exactly which exercise followed after the next, and the arising feeling of boredom made the whole thing pointless. Why bother?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned: as soon as that question (why bother?) comes up, it’s time for a new challenge! Time to take another item from the menu, and shift up those gears.
Ah yes, the menu:
Squeeze in a grateful thought.
I wish to remain honest with you, so I’ll have you know that I don’t always manage to do this. It is my intention, however, to have a grateful thought among the first thoughts that come to me after I wake up. Why? Uhm, why not? There’ll come a day where I will not wake up. I am alive now, though, and living is the only experience that counts. Life is an expression of abundance. And I am gratefully receiving it.
Of the variety of exercises that I’ve tried, here’s a list that is currently on the menu:
=> 7 minutes workout – Seven
=> aerobics – POPSUGAR Fitness
=> yoga – DoYogaWithMe
=> Qi Gong – Lee Holden
I wrote extensively about this practice last week, but here are some additional tips:
=> Joseph Clough’s guided meditation on the discovery of our potential is one of my favorites at the moment – youtube
=> Deepak Chopra’s CD, The Secret Of Healing, is one of my favorites not only because of its beautiful content. The Sutras that Deepak is reciting can be broken up into pieces, so you can adjust your listening time without having to interrupt the guided meditation uncomfortably.
Yes, I consider my breakfast and shower moments just as much of a vital part of my morning routine. They are the crossover between my digestion of the previous items of the menu and my getting involved with the more mundane part of the day.
For me it’s best to start with the exercises because they immediately take way any hesitation, procrastination or whatever excuse I come up with. Again, my morning routine is holy, but I am also a human being and sometimes the first thing I want to do when I wake up is simply go back to bed… So, exercise first for me. Not only does that wake my mind up better than any cup of coffee could, it helps me to stay fit, and it signals the cells in my body to get ready for another day.
Meditation definitely comes next because I can really appreciate to sit my worked up body down for a good rest. Also, as a side effect, at least my body is too busy with recovering to resist the idea of sitting down for 30 minutes (again, only human here!).
HOW To Chose A Morning Routine That Works For YOU?
Experiment, experiment, EXPERIMENT!
And: remain flexible.
If a particular practice doesn’t work for you (after you’ve given it a try for at least a week, I mean come on…), then don’t quit your morning routine, just pick another practice!
Also, I think it’ll help to go back to your “why”. Why do you wish to upgrade your morning routine? What purpose does it have for you?
Do, please, listen to your gut and to what feels good. It’s one thing to dread a worn-out routine, but it’s another to dread it every single day. Eventually that will influence your day since you’re starting it with a frustration!
“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
Well, that came out in a nice flow, and I sure hope it is of some use to you. In any case, feel free to share your own experiences, morning routine, and practices – I’d love to know them!