Morning magic — what all those practices are really for…

What’s your morning magic made of?

Let’s weave together our wisdom today, my love.

And then let’s agree to support each other by making morning magic together. What we do together adds up to so much more than we can accomplish alone. 

My wisdom today comes from a few pivotal lessons in my own development. Let’s dive in:

running through tiresMy first coach had her hands full with me.

I was so resistant to her suggestions (like daily gratitude practices, meditation, acts of generosity, and more). She taught me: “Every day in football season, you’ll see the team running through tires on the field. But on game day, there are no tires on the field. They aren’t practicing running through tires in order to get really good at running through tires. Instead, they’re practicing running through tires in order to change their wiring, to make them more nimble, responsive, graceful, and powerful.

When the game is on, when life is happening, you don’t have time to think about how to respond. You respond. It’s your training, and your practices, that enable you to respond in a way that sets you up for successful outcomes, ease, and happiness.

I freely admit that running through tires has never been one of my practices. Not even once. But I have some excellent practices (and I’m always learning new ones). After the last few months of intense stress and change, I can say that every single moment I’ve invested in my practices combined to keep me focused and grounded through some days and weeks when I couldn’t really see my way to clarity, goodness, or peace. It was fucking hard.

I have a mix of practices that I do most days that keep me tuned, nimble, and responsive.

I don’t do them all every day. In fact, I think in order to make a solid go of this kind of thing, it’s best to have more practices that you need at your disposal every day. We live in a distractible time in a distractible culture. For many reasons (whim, preference, the weather, you name it), you may be drawn to different practices today than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. When you find or experience something you like, learn enough about it so that you can actually use it when you want it.

Let’s look at a few of the practices that I’m using these days. And if you’d like to read more, I wrote about practices helping you live your best life in a previous post here.

First I make my bed.

Early in my transformational journey, I heard the following at a 12-step meeting. I wasn’t paying much attention (distractible? yup!) but I snapped to when I heard this person say, “I make my bed every morning. I do this because it puts me in a frame of mind to do other things that my default mode would have me be unwilling to do.”

That went in deep for me, and I’ve been a early morning bedmaker ever since. I may have skipped a day or two (or three) but not much more than that.

Turns out I respond well to practices that enhance willingness, who knew? Here’s what I do know: I don’t make my bed in order to be a good bedmaker (although I gotta says it’s aesthetically pleasing). I make my bed to get real, get humble, and get willing. So that when the waters rise, and I have to do some stuff I’d really rather not in order to survive and make it through changes, I won’t be getting in my own way with resistance.

I do a combination of things to make my mindset more positive.

Because I don’t wake up in a positive, grateful, and generous state of mind most days. I have to get myself there.

I manage my mindset by doing these things (takes about 30–45 minutes, depending on my thoroughness):

  • I meditate in stillness (a sit) and in motion (tai chi practice)
  • I affirm in writing and then envision, and feel all the positive things I’m calling in
  • I chant (also with movement) a Hebrew chant that translates to “Here I am, turning myself into a chariot for the divine.”
  • I connect to gratitude and express it in writing (and I still hold myself to the high bar of 15 items for which I’m grateful every day)

And then I move my body in healing ways.

wire brushLook, I’ll be honest. I’d much rather get the positive effects of the physical therapy balls, massage tools, chi-enhancing devices, straps, cushions, and mats just by simply buying them. I have to use them too? Sigh. Have I mentioned how very good I am at resistance?

But, lucky for me, lack of pain is an enormous motivator. I’ve found that if I do bang my body with that wire brush (108 steel bristles, improves the flow of chi wherever I bang it); stretch; take myself for a walk every day; and spend a few minutes making nice to my hip flexors, calves, hamstrings, and quads, I can be on my feet for longer with less pain — after a year with painful heel plantar fascitis, I am incentivized!

Disclaimer: I am not even close to an extreme athlete of any kind. That wire brush was first used on me by an acupuncturist, and it felt so good to feel the chi (life force) moving through my sore and tender parts that I bought one. I control how hard I swing that thing, and I promise you I’m very very gentle with myself. And my walks? They’re strolls, yo. But I pay attention. I make sure I walk every day. I have an app that counts my steps, and I make sure to hit between 5,- and 8,000 steps most days.

What about you, my love? What’s in your morning magic cauldron of enriching practices?

Let’s weave our wisdom together, share our morning magic practices, learn from each other, and support each other. I love hearing from you; leave a comment!

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Join the conversation!

  1. Love it, I see what you mean about being in sync now- as this was what i wrote on a couple of weeks ago . No I don’t make the bed- but des does every morning 🙂 xxxx

  2. I learned a bit later in life that it is so important to have a rhythm to our life…we humans just function better when we are in a rhythm. As someone who doesn’t like routine and loves to wing it and make it up as I go, that was one of the biggest changes when it came to my healing. For example, I have an acupuncture treatment generally every week at the same time. It is healing for the body to have a rhythm.

    As far as in the mornings, I have always made my bed when I get up as well. I might have heard the same thing you did Sue, as for me, if I don’t make my bed, it doesn’t quite feel like I am leaving the night behind me and am ready for the new day. Right now I am doing a mindfulness + drumming workshop in an effort to add another tool to keep me in the present moment…a big challenge for me. I love to walk if the weather permits…often to get a morning chai at my local Starbucks. For the last several months I have been watching Marianne Williamson’s Tuesday night livestream and she is very clear on how important a morning practice is. Although I don’t have a specific practice I do each day, I am working on more consistency in how I start the day. Thank you for the food for thought, as I love hearing all of the things you have to call on to begin your day. I know it would benefit me greatly! xo

  3. I love your morning magic and how beautifully you explained the example of football players. I know so many of us buy so many things thinking that will help them change for good and it all lies somewhere collecting dust. One of my morning magic that I don’t miss out on is a specific movement process to shake of the negative energy and reclaim radiance.

    • Jonita, thanks! I love the idea of reclaiming radiance each day, maybe you can teach me what your specific movement process is (or maybe you have already?).

  4. I’ve found that mixing up my morning routine works really well for me too. I meditate. Walk the dogs (or, at this very juncture, sit in the floor and let 13 Labrador puppies maul me–there is no better bliss!), and a variety of other things. But I always start out with coffee cup in hand, sitting on my porch swing, appreciating all the things in my life.
    I love what Beverley said about having a rhythm to our lives too!

  5. So true, Sue! Morning practices very much shape how much grace, ease, receptiveness and responsiveness I bring to the rest of my day.

    I begin each morning by taking my herbs with lemon water…followed by a yogic breath and movement practice (the “5 Tibetans”)…followed by bulletproof coffee or mate and email time.

    Days when I’m not teaching Chinese Medicine, I spend the next hour or so doing creative work for my business…then head to a late morning yoga or Crossfit class.

    All together, this makes up my most favourite time of the day!

    • Dana, you remind me that I also start with nutrition — my lemon, aloe juice, baking soda mix half the days. Alternate days get a bit more in the jar of dissolved powders: colostrum, collagen, l-glutamine, msm, glucommanan, and other interesting things. It’s funny how when something has become routine I don’t even think about it, but it feels so good to acknowledge all of this!

  6. Wow, you have quite a morning ritual Sue! Mine is nowhere near that impressive. For one thing, a big part of my good mood “prep” happens at the end of each day when I clear the clutter (mentally and physically) and review my list of priorities for the next day. That lets me settle in for the evening with peace of mind. I’m a (very!) early riser and up before 4 a.m. most mornings and I take my time over coffee and catching up with the news, then venture outside with my dog for a walk in the chilly morning air … that usually sets the tone for a good day for me. 🙂

    • Wow, 4am, now that is impressive to me. I think about getting up earlier, yet I struggle to leave my bed in the mornings, or even set an alarm for earlier than 7. It’s a goal that is out of reach for me so far.

      I love the walks though, whenever they come.

      My life is still so discombobulated by the move — I can tell by just how inconsistent my routines are. Getting better though, I can tell because I’m getting closer to my comfortable normal every day.

  7. Making my bed is a practice I learned when I was in boarding school, Sue. We had to make it when we woke up despite the fact that the House Help would redo it later during the day to make the dorm beds look uniform. 🙂 It’s a practice that has stayed with me till date and does make a big difference to my mindset.

    My first step in the morning is to chant the Gayatri Mantra while I’ll still in bed and give gratitude for the day ahead. After that comes the bed making and a dash to pick up the papers while the kettle boils. Simple routine but one that sets the mood for the day – a happy one.

    • Vatsala, I love to think that when I’m chanting in Hebrew our voices join across the distance. Blessed be.

  8. There’s something about a morning wake-up routine that prepares you for the day ahead. For me making the bed is very important. It says there is always one part of my life where I can create order. If I can do it there, then the next place that needs order is doable.

    • Funny to reveal this now, but since writing this article I’m finding myself relaxing my rigidity about my practices, and enjoying the spaciousness of doing the ones that light me up on any particular day. Some nice changes are coming in this way. I took out my paints for the first time since I moved today, and last night I journaled before bed — never done that before! It was lovely.

  9. I am constantly re-committing myself to follow somewhat of a routine. Lately, it’s been great. because my husband works from home and we take our tea and discuss (a lot) and on a variety of subjects. I love my morning time with me hubby. But the main thing I do as soon as I wake up is praying. I spend time with God, I talk to him and then I ask him to speak to me. So between praying, getting the dogs situated and the kid’s lunches and tea with hubby…I”m pretty much set! I usually start in my office or art studio around 10:00 am. I like all that you suggest and you seem to have this down! That’s awesome Great share 😉

    • Nathalie, Funny how there’s no end to development (at least in my case). While I do have the routine down, like I mentioned in the previous reply, I’m finding that now I thrive more when I am a bit more spacious and easy about my choices. It’s fun to see what I choose to do, and when, when I’m not being so routine. Hooray for freedom!

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