Well, it’s December 30, and the New Year is almost upon us. Can you believe it?? It seems like 2019 just started!
As a person who struggles with linear time, you might be surprised to learn that I love the New Year – the goal-setting, future-visioning, and newness of it all – is very exciting! My husband commented this morning that he doesn’t care about the New Year. “It’s just another day”, he said. And he’s right – there’s nothing that special about the New Year, except that it marks the start of a new cycle. As human beings, we’re very attached to linear time… we celebrate birthdays and holidays, measure our lives in days and months, and it seems like we’re always looking ahead to the future.
So to me, the New Year represents a very potent time to dream-up our future by setting goals and creating action plans to get us there. What do I want to achieve this year? Where do I want to be in 12 months? And how do I get there?
The New Year is rife with potential for manifestation. One of the best ways to utilize this potential is by creating a morning practice. By repeating your practice every day, you strengthen it’s vibration in your body, mind and spirit, and ingrain it into the fiber of your day-to-day life, bringing your desires into reality!
I know, I know. You’re thinking “Morning practice? I don’t have time for that!” And the simple answer is, WAKE UP EARLIER. Ideally, you could take an hour or even longer for your practice every morning. But if the best you can do is give yourself just an extra 15 minutes in the morning, it will make a huge difference in your entire day!
Why practice in the morning?
The way you start your day, is the way you spend your day.
Read that again! If you sleep until the last minute, jump out of bed and run around getting ready for your day in a state of stress and hurry, those feelings likely linger long into your day. Why go through life feeling rushed and anxious? Give yourself time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to start your day on the right foot so you can tackle whatever your day brings with a more calm, centered and positive mindset.
What should a morning practice include?
Everybody is different, and will enjoy (or hate!) certain elements. That’s OK! Figure out what works for you, and go with it!
The suggestions I’ve given below are what I’ve found work really well. I kept them broad enough that you can tailor them to suit your own needs. Your practice can be as short or long as you’d like, and include whatever elements you’d like. The key is consistency. Repeating your routine every day really solidifies it – your brain will become hard-wired to start your day this way if you practice enough!
Give your brain a signal that it’s time to start your practice by always starting in the same way. You might light a candle or some incense, sit down on a mat or cushion, and recite a prayer or invocation. I always start my practice by chanting the Adi Mantra, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, 3 times.
Breathwork sounds complicated, but it’s really just a fancy way of saying breathing consciously or with intention. Why do you need to spend time breathing?? Breathwork can help you achieve massive transformation and healing by increasing the flow of oxygen to your brain and throughout your body, and activating your parasympathetic nervous system. Deep breathing sends the signal to your brain that all is well, and your body responds by slowing your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, and relaxing tense muscles. Your body, mind and spirit can release buried emotions, traumas and memories, and you can access a deep state of calm relaxation.
Some of my favorite breathwork techniques are Breath of Fire, Square or “Box” Breathing, or simply taking long, deep breaths. You could practice just one, or try several different breaths, in your practice.
Movement first thing in the morning is a great way to wake up your body, get your blood pumping, and trigger your brain to start producing feel-good endorphins that set you up for a positive and productive day! You can do literally anything you enjoy – anything from lying on the floor and stretching, to a yoga flow, to a HIIT workout, to a few minutes of dancing – whatever feels good and pumps you up!
My personal favorite right now is the Kundalini Kriya for Elevation.
So now you’ve calmed your mind with breathwork, and got some endorphins pumping through your body with movement… now it’s time to go inward! Does the word ‘meditation’ freak you out a little? Soooo many people have this idea that meditation means ‘turning off your brain’ or stopping your thoughts… and that sounds impossible, right?? The truth is, you’re probably never going to completely still your mind and stop random thoughts from popping into your head while you meditate. And that’s OK, because it still works, even when the thoughts pop in.
That’s right! You can still reap the rewards of meditation, even if you can’t get your brain to quiet down. Meditation has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety, improve self-image and positive thoughts, improve memory, help you sleep better, reduce chronic pain, and even increase intelligence!
There are countless methods for meditating. If you’re just starting out, try searching through the myriad guided meditations available on YouTube, or practice silent meditation by just sitting with your eyes closed and focusing on your breathing. Count the measure of your inhales and exhales, making them equal in length. You can also try jappa meditation, or the repetitive chanting of a mantra. One of my go-to’s is Sa Ta Na Ma, or Kirtan Kriya. This repetitive chant helps elevate and balance the mind, body and spirit. I always feel
a-m-a-z-i-n-g after this meditation!
After meditation, I like to do some personal reflection, usually in the form of journaling. During meditation, it’s common to have a lot of information pop-in, from inspired ideas to intuitive insights about a challenge you’ve been experiencing, or sometimes deeply-buried emotional wounds or traumas that resurface to be healed. Journaling or free-writing are great ways to process anything that came up for you.
This is also a great time to pull an oracle card, if that’s part of your practice. I feel so connected to Source energy after meditation, and I find that I get really great insights when I pull a card at this point! Journaling about the card’s message is a beautiful way to process and incorporate it into your energy for the day.
After spending all this time out in the ethers, now is a good time to ground your energy back to the earth – otherwise, you might find you have a hard time getting your brain in the game for the day!
I like to start transitioning back to earth gently, so I like to piggy-back on top of the reflecting and journaling I just completed by writing down a few things I feel grateful for and then setting an intention for my day. By setting an intention for my day, it brings my mindset back to the present moment and gets me into thinking of what’s to come in the day ahead of me.
Another thing I like to do to ground my energy is to play a singing bowl. Sound is such a powerful energy! Just sounding a tone for a minute or two really helps bring my energy back, and helps my mind feel centered and present.
Another way of grounding you might try is by using 1 (or more!) of your 5 senses: taste something (drink some tea or have a bite to eat), smell something (apply an essential oil), touch something (place your palms on the earth, or feel something with an interesting texture, and really pay attention to how it feels on your palms), listen to a sound (play a singing bowl, or sing a tone with your voice, play a rattle or drum). These physical sensations help bring your focus and attention back into your body and the present moment, so you can start your day.
Finally, it’s time to wrap it up and start the rest of your day! It’s important to bring your morning practice to a formal close, so it signals to your brain that it’s time to transition into the next part of your day. Without a closing, your practice is left open-ended… like a sentence without punctuation!
Closing your practice can be as simple as reciting a prayer or invocation, just like you did at the beginning! In Kundalini, we recite the Long Time Sun Mantra:
May the long time sun shine upon you,
May all love surround you,
And may the pure light within you
Guide your way on.
You could also chant Om, Sat Nam, or any other word or mantra you are drawn to. Or, simply sit in silence for a moment and take a few deep breaths.
After I close my practice, I usually like to jump in the shower. It’s a nice way to break-up the morning and transition out of practice-mode into getting-ready-for-work-mode. After I shower, it’s time to get dressed for work, put on my makeup, pack lunch, and get to work. That’s just what works for me, but you can find what works for you!
Ready for the day!
So you’ve completed your practice, and now you’re ready for the day! Remember, consistency is key, so the more you practice, the more opportunity you have to figure out what works, and what doesn’t! If you’ve tried a certain aspect multiple times and just don’t like it, don’t do it. Your morning practice should feel GOOD and be something you look forward to! Focus on that, and you can’t go wrong. Commit to your practice every day, and when you skip a day (because life happens!), that’s OK – just start again tomorrow!
One of the biggest benefits of a regular morning practice is that you learn to trust yourself. You build self-confidence and self-trust by showing up every day, and that’s huge. When life goes bananas and everything feels chaotic, you can lean into your practice and come back to center, no matter what. It’s literally life-changing.