Practice

My Key to Morning Rituals

This month I’ve been successful in doing my Morning Protocols more than any other month. Here’s what that looks like:

  1. Yoga or “5 Rites”: A short stretching routine just to get the body moving.
  2. Sitting Meditation: Nothing fancy, just my butt on a cushion for 15 minutes.
  3. Journaling: One page, while I have my coffee.
  4. Deep Reading: A book. Uninterrupted page after page, preferably on some deeper subject.

Now, when I say “more successful” I’m not talking perfect. Sometimes my “deep reading” isn’t so deep, or I let it go. Sometimes I skip the journaling, or the yoga. But by far the worst thing that happens to disrupt the morning protocols is the World.

You know the World I’m talking about. It’s Facebook, Twitter, email. It’s your to-do list, it’s the meeting you have later in the day. It’s all the things that are waiting for you – all the things that often make one decide that they don’t have time for Morning Protocols (or Rituals or whatever).

It’s a simple truth about any morning habit. Pick out one that you may have considered before, but decided not to do – maybe “getting up an hour early to write”. Think about all the reasons that you don’t do it.

Now think of something you do every morning. Breakfast, maybe (for yourself, or for someone else). Or going to work. How about putting on clothes? Whatever, pick out something you absolutely do. Why did you do it? Was it harder, or did it require less work than that morning habit? I mean, in the last example, you not only had to pick them out and put them on, there’s a whole host of connected work (buying, washing, folding, etc) that increases the difficulty.

But you still do it. Why? Because that thing is important to you. It may even seem necessary (what, am I supposed to go around naked all day?).

That Morning Habit that you (and I) don’t do? We haven’t decided it’s necessary. That’s the only difference.

There are a lot of self-help bloggers who try to provide various ways to get yourself to do things that are good for you but that you don’t internalize as “necessary.” For example, there’s the “small victories” concept, based on the adage If you win the morning, you win the day. That adage is talking about morning radio shows, by the way, which may be why it’s never done me much good. Yes, even getting out of bed is a “victory” of sorts, but it feels kind of like everyone getting a gold star; the victory doesn’t mean much.

The Key to Morning Rituals

…for me, at least, is instead a bit of selfishness. From the moment I wake I’m aware of the pressure of the day, of clients’ emails and phone calls and holidays and the like. I look at them in my mind, and I shake my metaphorical finger at them, and I say:

You don’t get me yet.

This is my time. These protocols, this mode of framing my day, belongs only to me, and all the other things that will chip away at my willpower throughout the day until I don’t even have enough decisiveness to pick out what I want for dinner…they can wait.

I say it with a snarl of defiance, and a growl of possessiveness. It changes the Morning Protocols from something I have to do or need to do into something I get to do, just for me. It’s my own little version of Odysseus lashing himself to the mast as his ship went past the sirens: You don’t get me yet.

Someday, perhaps, I’ll reach the point where I can leave off the last word. But for now, this is what helps me build my morning protocol habit.

How about you? What habits do you wish you could start in your mornings, and what is keeping you back?

 

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