Off To a Great Start: The Morning Ritual
How It Works
If I had known a few years earlier how powerful a conscious morning ritual could be, I might have had a better chance of avoiding the burnout mess that was swallowing me whole. Oh well - at least I have learned that it is never too late to start with this practice. It can help you find more balance, clarity and energy, preparing you to experience your days more positively.
Is this only something for morning persons? No. I am definitely not an early-morning riser by nature and still managed to go from zero to a can't-do-without-it 30-minute ritual within a few short weeks.
There are a lot of different ways to create your perfect morning ritual – from meditation to journaling, from affirmations to holistic exercise like Qigong or Yoga. You may have to do a bit of exploring to find what works best for you – possibly it is even a combination of two or three activities.
Go easy with the timing when you start – 5 to 10 minutes are already a great beginning, and the important thing is to make those minutes a consistent and beneficial part of your mornings. Once you feel like you can't begin a day without that 5-minute ritual anymore, then you're ready to expand it at a pace that feels best to you. I know people that have a one or even two-hour morning ritual – but they built it up gradually.
Ready to start? Give the following journaling ritual a try – it is also the ideal start for non-morning persons because you can get going with as little as 5 minutes and unlike meditation, it won't (fingers crossed!) let you fall asleep again.
For me this journaling activity has quickly made a positive difference to my days and my overall burnout recovery process.
Here we go:
Set your alarm to wake you 5 minutes earlier than usual. Place a notebook (journal) and a pen or pencil next to your bed – resist the temptation to use a digital writing tool: one of the beautiful parts of journaling is the connection between the feeling of your hands, the pen and its flow on the paper.
When the alarm wakes you up in the morning, be strong! Yes, you can hit the snooze button for 5 more minutes but only if you use it as your journaling timer – that means: grab your writing gear right after the alarm rang and sit up in your bed. Of course you can also get up and sit in a nearby chair. Why nearby? Because we don't want to spend a lot of time between waking up and being ready to write. The transition should happen without delay for the best journaling effect.
Are you sitting comfortably, pen and paper in hand? Great!
Now we begin with our writing: Julia Cameron's Morning Pages. This journaling technique is wonderful for finding balance through one's thoughts, fostering creativity and clarity. How do they work? Easy:
If you haven't used your snooze button, take a timer and start a 5-minute countdown.
Begin to write down everything that is coming into your mind without judgment or self-censoring. It doesn't matter what you're thinking about: what matters is that you write it down. The writing represents a flow of your consciousness, exactly reflecting the ups and downs, the criss-crossing and the rush of your thoughts. Negative, positive, boring, interesting – just keep the pen moving!
Once your timer rings, put the pen and journal aside. It's time to get up.
The original Morning Pages practice involves writing 3 pages each morning. I modified that to reflect time instead of page count: so at first I wrote for 5 minutes. Then for 10, then for 15 minutes.
Of course you can add another morning ritual such as meditation to this one whenever you're ready to expand your morning ritual. It's completely up to you – whatever feels right to you is right for you.
What You’ll Need
- Pen or pencil
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A friend of mine recommended the Morning Pages to me. At that time I had already been practicing a morning routine but I had never tried journaling before. I was skeptical at first - but a few mornings later, I had changed my mind...literally. This practice appeared to have been just what I have been unconsciously waiting for to jolt my healing and "expansion" onto a new level.
Do you have to stick with one routine once you set it up? Of course not. Over the course of the last few years, I have amended my morning ritual according to my needs – what I do now is different than my routine a year ago. The routine is supposed to be your companion: someone that supports, uplifts and soothes you, not someone who you feel pressured to follow or comply with.
And yes, maybe one day you will find the perfect routine that will serve you well for the rest of your life. We have heard of or read about many well-known people that have cultivated a certain morning (or even day-long) practice for many years – from Benjamin Franklin to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. If you want to copy any of their practices, go for it! But don't fall into the trap of wanting to prove anything to yourself or others by strictly applying their routine even if it doesn't feel nourishing and uplifting to you. Everyone is unique, and so your morning or day routine will be unique too – reflecting your heart and soul's expansion as you move forward. Enjoy it!