Upon Awakening: Five Morning Practices That Helped Me Become Whole

Several weeks ago I was talking with my coach (yes, coaches have coaches!) — trying to figure out why I felt off. After some discussion, I had an epiphany. I realized I had stopped doing my morning practices. The ones that had been part of my life for the past twenty years. The ones that have helped empower me to become the woman I am today.

I recognized that, rather than spending the first half hour of my morning in contemplation, I had been turning on my phone and reading my email. I had been rushing into the kitchen to make breakfast for my family. I had been putting my friends, my clients, my family ahead of myself. And I felt like I was suffocating. The next morning, I started again.

Upon awakening, I begin my morning with five practices that allow my day, my life, to unfold more peacefully. And for me, it’s critical that they are my first focus when I get out of bed – no computer, no phone, no glaring screens of any kind. Instead, I gather my writing journal and a pen and I do the following:

  1. Find a sacred place. It can be sitting under a tree in nature or a comfy chair inside the house. If possible, I choose the same spot every morning so my mind and my body know it’s time to commence my practice. A place where I can sink into myself and get connected.  
  2. I write down my purpose*. It’s the same sentence every morning – and I find the repetition allows me to connect with who I am and why I’m here. Reminding myself of my purpose – writing the words on a page – allows this purpose, the reason I’m on this planet, to become the focus of my day. My desires, my intentions, my and my daily actions unfold from there.
  3. I determine my desires. What do I want for my day? I find that so many of us don’t even consider this question. We are either reactive – we act in response to other’s wants and needs. I find that this penchant to help others doesn’t necessarily allow us to thrive. Instead, I believe it’s important to determine our own desires – we do WE want? Is it more time alone? Do I need nature? What will make me feel whole?
  4. I set my intentions. This is a deliberate action of naming how I want to be in the world. I jot down words like “generous” or “joyful” or “patient” … they are different every day depending on the landscape. And these intentions become the anchor of my day – the tie me to my values and the quality with which I want to live my life. I find the deliberate action of naming how I want to be in the world empowers me to stay true to my purpose.
  5. I determine the actions I want to take. Once I clarify what I want and what my intentions are – I list out corresponding practices – whether it’s an hour run in the woods, playing the piano or baking bread.   

Once I’ve finished my writing, I set down my pen and review every word, taking time to allow them to sink in.  And I find, without fail, that when I start my day in this kind of contemplation, I am more clear, more calm, more grateful.

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*End note – I fully recognize that determining one’s “purpose” may sound daunting. I didn’t figure mine out overnight. Rest assured that I will write about finding your purpose in another blog post soon!