by Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac.
“Don’t prioritize your schedule. Schedule your priorities.” - Steven Covey
How you start your day is an expression of what you’re cultivating in your life.
If you wake up to a loud alarm, rushing to get ready and make it to work on time, you’ll likely spend the rest of your day feeling rushed.
If you jump straight to email and social media, you’re choosing to allow your day to begin with the needs and lives of others instead of your own.
If, on the other hand, you begin the day slowly, mindfully and with a regard for your well-being, it’s the centered state you cultivate is more likely to follow you throughout the day.
Taking care of your own needs at the start of your day will allow you to be more available to the needs of others without becoming drained or feeling resentful.
When you fly, you're told to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others put on theirs. By starting your day with a focus on yourself, you’ll be better equipped to contribute at a greater capacity to others throughout the day…and still come home feeling charged.
The moment you open your eyes in the morning, you invite a new day of possibilities.
In that moment each morning you have the opportunity to set the rhythm for the rest of your day. As the days cultivating self-care accumulate and that rhythm flows, your life is vitalized on the path of healing and wellness.
When you first awake, your brain operates at around 10.5 waves per second. The range from 8 to 13 Hz, or cycles per second, is the alpha stage, which is often referred to as the gateway to the subconscious mind.
Since your subconscious mind is most active right when you wake up, mornings are the ideal time to train your brain to use this subconscious activity to think positively and accomplish more throughout your day.
When you’re positive, intentional and focused with your mornings, you create the foundation for greater dreams to blossom and come to fruition.
To have time for a ritual in the morning will mean that you create that time by waking up earlier—even just 10 extra minutes in the morning can make a tremendous difference in the pace of your day.
Your morning ritual sets the tone for the rest of your day—and life.
In Chinese Medicine, the Earth element, which is comprised of the Spleen and Stomach, must be harmonized in order for us to move through life's challenges with ease as well as to maintain a consistent level of energy throughout the day.
The Earth element thrives on regularity - with meals, exercise, sleep and activities.
A regular morning ritual helps to strengthen the Earth element energy within us. This, in turn, will increase our ability to digest and assimilate the important nutrients we consume, as well as enhance our ability to process and assimilate our life experiences in a more healthy way. This is one way to support being more grounded in your daily life.
Ritual provides order and order harmonizes and calms the nervous system.
Starting your morning early allows more time for you to set the foundation you want to create for your day and to be more intentional about what you want that foundation to look like.
When building a house, the foundation is the structure that ensures stability for the entire project development.
Think of your morning ritual as your foundation for the project development of your goals and dreams.
5 Simple Steps for a Healthy Morning Ritual
After several hours of sleep and inactivity, the body needs hydration for optimal functioning. Drinking water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning supports cleansing the colon and flushing toxins out of the body.
While in general hydration is important (try to drink 1/2 of your weight in ounces of water daily, i.e. 75 ounces for a 150 pound body), it’s best to drink more water earlier in the day.
Some suggest that drinking 50% of your daily water intake by mid-morning will not only keep you hydrated throughout the day, but can also prevent headaches and fatigue.
Center Your Mind
This can be done through a quiet meditation or relaxation practice, and even journaling to help you release negative thoughts, worries and also to help plan out your day.
I love waking up to the practice of Morning Pages, which I was first introduced to in 2005 by the wonderful Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. Morning Pages are three longhand pages of pure, uncensored writing about anything and everything as a way to clear the clutter from your mind. This has been an integral part of my morning routine for over a decade now and I swear by it, but really any type of journaling can be helpful as long as you do it regularly.
Move Your Body
Particularly with exercises that connect the body and mind, like Yoga and Qi Gong. The early morning hours are also the optimal time for aerobic exercise to stimulate your metabolism and activate your brain.
You may feel grateful, but expressing this gratitude itself could be a daily ritual.
Remember, when you take time to acknowledge and give gratitude for all that is working, you create space for greater positivity and joy to flow into your life.
Gratitude is most powerful when it’s written, so start by writing 5-10 things you’re grateful for every morning.
Eat a Warm, Nourishing Breakfast
Taking time to eat without rushing is equally important to eating something healthy and nourishing. I always recommend cooking non-gluten whole grains such as buckwheat, millet or amaranth for breakfast. Grains in general nourish the Spleen Qi to support healthy digestion.
Allowing time for your meals also nourishes the Earth element and digestive system, which leads to a faster, healthier metabolism.
Most importantly, I recommend doing these practices before you check your phone or email and avoiding external distractions for as long as possible when you first wake up.
Over time, you’ll notice that taking just 15-30 minutes each morning to center yourself will fill the remaining hours of your day with greater awareness, productivity and ease.
Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac. is Co-Owner and Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California, a health and wellness clinic that specializes in Classical Chinese Medicine and Traditional Japanese Acupuncture. Setareh offers clinical services and transformational workshops that blend the ancient practices of Classical Chinese Medicine and Yoga. More information at www.setarehmoafi.com and www.acenterfornaturalhealing.com.