Discover the Magic in Your Mornings
March 6, 2018
Enjoy! ~FHB and Especially Me
Discover the Magic in Your Mornings
by Ashley Ellington Brown
“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed
and every morning revealed new miracles.”
-The Secret Garden
Are you a morning person? For most of my life, my answer would have been “No!” I have always loved to sleep; when I worked at a corporate job, it was torture to drag myself out of bed at 6 a.m. But recently something shifted for me, and it truly seems like a miracle. I now practice what I call a “morning ritual,” and it has had a transformative effect on my mornings and on my life.
I realized about a year and a half ago that I felt tired and grumpy a lot of the time. This surprised me, because I seemed to be getting plenty of sleep. I took a hard look at my mornings and saw that I was sabotaging myself.
As a freelance writer and homeschooling mother, I currently have the great good fortune of a flexible schedule. I used to abuse that privilege, hitting the snooze button until I absolutely had to get up. Then I would jump out of bed with that adrenalized feeling of being late. I would stumble out to the kitchen feeling groggy and race around doing chores while I gulped my coffee. It was an awful way to start the day. No wonder I was grumpy! And I suspected that I was making myself tired by not getting up at the same time each morning, and by dozing after that initial alarm.
I decided to experiment with a new approach. I would wake up at the first beep of my alarm, but I wouldn’t jump out of bed. I would open my eyes and stay there for a moment, stretching and breathing deeply—and consciously NOT thinking about my to-do list. Right away I noticed a big difference in how I felt.
I also started taking my coffee outside, drinking it slowly while I watched the clouds or listened to the birds. Again, I wasn’t thinking about what I had to accomplish, just letting my mind wake up slowly.
As I did this for a few weeks, I began to feel much more in control and relaxed in the mornings, and that feeling would last through the day. I started noticing that I would wake up around 7 or 7:30, then make myself go back to sleep if it wasn’t officially time to get up. I decided to try getting up whenever I first woke up, just to see. I was amazed to find that I wasn’t tired at all; as long as I was asleep by 11 p.m., I would wake up naturally around 7 or so, and have plenty of energy all day.
I kept doing this and got into a rhythm of waking up before the alarm every day. It gave me more time in the mornings, which I decided to spend on myself. I would stay in the bedroom and journal, or try to sit in silence, or do some stretches on the floor—and it made me so happy! I realized I was creating a sort of morning ritual that was helping put me in a positive frame of mind. I was more patient, calmer, and more centered.
Then last April I began a writing class led by Martha Beck and Elizabeth Gilbert; shortly after it started I was sitting outside with my coffee and I began wondering how they spent their mornings. I figured they must have some sort of amazing ritual, since they are living aligned with their dreams. I thought about other women I knew who were living like that, and wondered about their mornings. I realized it would make a fascinating book—and then I realized I could write it! I was both exhilarated and terrified, all in the same moment. I decided to go for it, because I wanted to share with other women how powerful a morning ritual can be. If I could help even one woman change her mornings for the better, as I had done, it would be worth it.
Ten months later that book, titled A Beautiful Morning: How a Morning Ritual Can Feed Your Soul and Transform Your Life, is here. My morning ritual has inspired and enabled me to create something that will now live beyond me, and I am both astonished and proud. I interviewed more than twenty of the most incredible women—including Martha Beck, and the marvelous author of this blog, Keri Wilt—and they shared their morning rituals with me. No two were alike. Some had certain practices in common, such as meditation or journaling, but each woman had created a personally meaningful ritual that fit into her life and met her needs.
They were very generous in giving suggestions on how others can create their own rituals, and I will share some with you here, in case this idea is calling to you.
Perhaps the most common theme was to be true to yourself. Respect your needs and the reality of your life. A morning ritual is for you and you alone—it should nourish you, not be one more burden on your back.
Do what makes you happy, what sparks you, what feels right for YOU. Ask yourself, “What do I need today?” Not “What do I have to do?” or “What do others want me to do?” but “What do I need to do for me?” Whatever works for you is right for you, regardless of what that is. Do what lights you up and feeds your unique soul.
The result is what counts, not the method. Decide how you want to feel, then choose the method that delivers that feeling for you. If you want to be calmer and meditation makes you calm, meditate. If meditation stresses you out, it’s not the right method for you. If you don’t have any spare time in the morning, choose another part of the day that works better for you. The important thing is to take some time for yourself; doing it in the morning can help set the tone for the day, but it’s not essential.
If you find it hard to create even a few minutes of spare time (and believe me, I know how that is), try adapting an activity you already do. For example, while you shower, focus on your breathing and picture the water washing all negative thoughts and feelings out of you and down the drain.
Keep it simple and achievable, especially in the beginning. A short and consistent practice beats a long but infrequent one every time. Start with tiny changes (i.e., I will take ten slow breaths in bed each morning this week), then add on as those become routine.
A morning ritual is a wonderful way to care for yourself—to refresh and restore you so that you can enjoy your life more fully. By paying attention to your inner voice, you’re acknowledging that you matter. What you think matters. What you need matters. What you want matters. You are worthy of this attention, of taking the time to listen to yourself. When you take care of yourself in this way, you become happier and are better able to know what you want. Self-awareness helps you see what nourishes you and what drains you. You are able to steer your life with purpose. Inspiration can come to you, as it did to me.
If the concept of a morning ritual is new to you, I hope I’ve given you some nourishing food for thought. If you decide to give it a try, I would love to hear about your experience—feel free to let me know how it goes at www.abeautifulmorningbook.com.
I wish you a life filled with joy and plenty of beautiful mornings!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ashley Ellington Brown is a freelance writer and author of A Beautiful Morning: How a Morning Ritual Can Feed Your Soul and Transform Your Life. Her morning ritual and its impact on her life inspired this book.
She also writes the blog Joy Detectives and lives in Florida with her husband and son and their rescued beagle, Snoopy.