It took me a long time to come up with a morning practice that works. One that I would stick to even on the weekends. I tried journaling, reading fiction, rolling out of bed and pushing play on a workout right away, and what feels like a million other things to have a more productive start to the day. Nothing felt right.
Then one day I decided to focus on two of the things that really matter to me – prayer and workouts. It might seem a little silly because both of these activities are radically different. You have prayer, which is solemn and quiet, and then you have workouts, which are vibrant and loud, but both help put me in the zen zone and set good intentions for the day ahead.
It goes like this…
During the week I wake up around 5 am, stagger into the kitchen with one eye open, shake up my pre-workout, and head down to the basement (gym) to begin my morning ritual. (On the weekends the practice starts a little later – Oh, how I love my sleep!)
I chose 5 am because at that time, I’m the only one awake in the house and have a full two hours to get ready for the day in complete peace. I love talking to God when it’s quiet and the only sounds are vibrations from the furnace. It’s also nice to get my workout done before work so I don’t have to worry about fitting it in after.
After chugging my pre-workout, I settle in with a blanket and whatever prayer or meditation book I’m currently reading. Right now it’s The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, which I’m reading with my nanny. It takes about half an hour for the supplement to kick in and give me the buzz I need to power through my hour-long routines.
Then I have about 30 minutes to read and run through a series of prayers for my family, friends, myself, and the world. When time permits, I’ll throw in a meditation or repeat a mantra while counting my mala beads or breaths. This is usually the most relaxed I’ll be all day, and I love starting the morning so focused.
I work out for about an hour six mornings each week – usually skipping Saturdays. I’ll do a mix of cardio and resistance – dance, MMA, strength training – really, whatever floats my boat that day. Lately, I’ve been on a dancing kick. It’s just so fun and energizing in the morning and helps me burn a ton of calories.
It helps to stick with routines that I like, so I’m motivated enough to get up and workout before the sun comes up. In the past, I’ve fallen off because I’ve settled for programs that weren’t a good fit.
Post-workout I enjoy a nice stretch or foam roll and then get ready for the day.
This practice leaves me refreshed and feeling great. In fact, if I miss my routine, my ENTIRE day goes down the toilet.
Creating your own practice
The world as we know it is filled with stress. It could be bad (current politics, being laid off from a job, or an illness) or good (new baby, buying a house, or starting a new job). Regardless, it’s still taxing to the body and so, so important to find time to relax and be happy.
I love this book that shows you how to meditate without going overboard.
Have yourself a little zen
Perhaps you like waking up at 9am and eating a big breakfast every morning. Maybe you’re a night owl and need an 11pm practice. Whatever it is, you can work it out. Here’s a 5-Step practice to help you find a zen routine that works.
Step 1: Pick a time that will consistently work for you (morning, noon, or evening)
Step 2: Think of all the things you love or find relaxing. (Listening to classical music, reading, weeding the garden)
Step 3: Put a few things together and keep it SIMPLE (You can listen to music while doing another activity or mesh your love of reading and the outdoors by taking a book outside)
Step 4: Test it out. (Listening to classical music as you garden just before sunset each night OR reading a book while swinging in your hammock at lunchtime OR taking a stroll every morning after you wake)
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 until you find a good fit. (Listening to classical music while taking a stroll at lunchtime)
Whatever you land on, make sure it’s something that makes you happy!
Check out last week’s post and stay tuned next week for our Finding the Balance Wrap Up!
Peace, Love, Zen