I had a great morning. I slept a full night, woke up, let the dog out, and made coffee. I read the daily C.S. Lewis while the coffee was brewing. Once fixed, I sat down and read Mark 5:21-43, taking notes. Then I prayed through my list, and read aloud Psalm 1-2. To finish, I went through a couple yoga sequences to wake my body up. The entire ritual took me less than 45 minutes. If you don’t count coffee prep and caring for the dog, less than 30. Good morning.
This is a rare example for me. Like many of us, I tend to stay up late, sleep late, rush through my morning, leaving no room to center myself through ritual practice. The days I am able follow a ritual, I feel more alert, patient, and peaceful. Days starting at a frantic pace stay frantic. I snap at people, am hard on myself, and feel listless. When I consider the components of what makes a morning ritual important, I realize I am leaving space to awaken in mind, body, and spirit.
When I make coffee, certainly the caffeine does its bit of magic, but grinding the beans, the smell, waiting for the brew, and the warmth of the cup all help awaken my senses.
Alternatives: Hot tea, a quick breakfast, juice.
Reading C.S. Lewis begins allowing the gears to turn in my mind. The passages are short, and give me something tangible to consider for the day. It is also easier than jumping directly in to scripture.
Alternatives: Book of poetry, daily practice or devotional book. Simply a short, digestible reading to begin.
Reading scripture and praying centers my soul. It reminds me of the presence of a God and a mission greater than myself. It keeps me from thinking too highly of my own talents and gifts. Or, I re-align my talent with how it can serve others.
Alternatives: A different book of faith, a novel, poetry. Instead of prayer, then time to meditate, and be thankful for what you have.
Yoga and physical challenges get my blood flowing and finish the job of waking up my body and mind. Most days I prefer yoga, because it allows me to stay in an even flow. Running or lifting weights requires more time to warm up, and complete. Running in the mornings is great, but usually I have to sacrifice part of the ritual in order to run. Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it’s not. I go with what I’m feeling. Since I have begun the Thousand Cuts program, I don’t get as stressed over not working out in the morning.
I want to re-iterate this ritual does not occur every morning. It’s a hope. I also have a stripped down version of coffee, scripture, and praying on my way to the office. I’m a work in progress. But giving movements to a ritual will help create space for it to happen. It likely won’t happen every day for you either, and don’t beat yourself up over those days. But I guarantee waking up 30 minutes earlier to be alone and center will make a huge difference in your day.
What is your morning ritual? If it’s not what you hope, what would it look like?