"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."

Marcus Aurelius

Hello beautiful goddess

One of the most common complaints I hear coming from my mouth, that of clients, peers, friends and family is that we have "no time". I've previously discussed the glorification of being busy, and how it serves no purpose other than distraction from our inner workings. As a passionate advocate for self care, I'm often prescribing my clients the task of finding time to look after themselves - from the inside out.

If you're struggling to find that time during the day (at the risk of upsetting the night owls amongst us), may I perhaps suggest getting up an hour or even two, earlier? I've been practicing a morning ritual for the past year, and cannot begin to describe how much it has changed my life. Far from a cliche, nothing has brought as much peace and clarity into my world, as this. 

I'm sharing my morning practice with you today, not in the hopes that you will copy it step by step (in fact, I hope you don't) - rather to inspire you to create one that has true meaning and value for you. And if you are a night owl, then may I suggest incorporating a similar habit in the hours preceding bedtime. As with yoga, it's all about making the practice fit in with your lifestyle, and not the other way around.

1. Meditation - As soon as I open my eyes, I sit up in bed and meditate. As a teacher of the tradition, I will be honest and say that the style and duration varies daily. Sometimes I repeat a mantra in my head silently for 20 minutes. Sometimes I pray to Ganesha, remover of obstacles, to clear and cleanse certain aspects of my life. Other times, I listen to recorded meditations. I find that it's not the style itself, but the commitment of a daily meditation that makes all the difference for me. If I don't meditate in the morning, and I haven't had those moments of stillness with myself, it can change completely how I feel. Don't be afraid to try it, or become convinced that you need to get it right the first time. I'm still learning and evolving the ability to tame the 1000 chattering monkey's roaming wild in there! Even sitting for 1, 2 or 3 minutes and following your natural breath pattern is a great way to start. I'm also very excited to announce here for the first time, that I will have my own recorded meditations for sale via this website soon...!

2. Gratitude Journal - Once I've finished meditating, I pull out my Gratitude Journal and write down 5 things I am grateful for today. They can be moments from the day before, seemingly trivial things such as no traffic on the way home, or repeating my appreciation for having a healthy body in perfect working condition (perhaps with a few quirks here and there!). My favourite thing to do is flip back on the weeks and months past, and realise just how much there is to be grateful for. It helps me to jump out of bed feeling just that little bit lighter and happier. Being grateful can also improve your health - according to a 2012 study published in 'Personality and Individual Differences'. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health.  

3. Make Your Bed - This part may bring back memories of a cranky mother reminding you over and over again to do this! However, making your bed is a step that’s quick and easy, yet makes a big difference. Everything looks neater. It’s easier to find your shoes. Your bedroom is a more peaceful environment. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. Yes, it's a small gesture. But there is power in simplicity. It can also help to remind us that things so often seem insurmountable, but are overcome by taking consistent and regular steps towards change.

4. Simple Detox - Once I've left the bedroom, it's straight into the kitchen for some warm water with slices of fresh lemon. I realise this is not groundbreaking stuff here, but do you know just how many benefits this powerful little drink has? It supports the immune system, aids digestion, repairs the skin, reduces cravings, balances pH levels, cleanses the urinary tract, freshens the breath, promotes healing and detoxifies the liver. The key is the Vitamin C and potassium levels in the lemon, and its alkaline nature. Ideally, you should drink it before eating breakfast and with warm water, not hot.

5. Exercise - Like my meditation practice, my exercise routine varies daily. It can be as gentle as a walk with my dog or restorative yoga, as intense as High Impact Interval Training (HIIT), or as simple as sit ups. Whether I'm writing an article, speaking with a client via Skype or driving to an event, my life isn't as physically active as I'd like it to be for the majority of the day. By day's end, I would be far too tired to move my tush, so I find morning works best for me. I won't go into the benefits of exercise, as they are promoted far and wide, but I will gently remind you that this beautiful body of yours is the only one you're going to get.

6. Nourishment - By this point, my stomach is usually saying "Good morning!". Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day for me - without it, I cease to function and become quite 'hangry' (hungry and angry at the same time, striking fear in the heart of my husband). Depending on the season and my mood, my breakfast revolves around 4 main staples. In warmer weather it's a smoothie with literally everything but the kitchen sink - fruit, nuts, seeds, superfood powders etc, or gluten free muesli with yoghurt and cinnamon. When it's colder, I either have an omelette with fresh herbs or quinoa porridge with chia seeds and goji berries. The thought of any of these may make your stomach turn, or heart sing. Find what works best for you and your body, the wisdom of its true needs may surprise you!

After a soothing shower, I am ready to begin my day. As always, I believe in authenticity, so will confess that variations to this routine can vary wildly, because life happens. However, the two steps I simply will not miss is meditation and my gratitude journal. I highly encourage you to find a self care ritual that will add deep value to your day, no matter how elaborate or simple.

Already have a morning/evening ritual? Overwhelmed by how to exactly start? I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Please also share this post with any sister who would benefit from some soul reflection on their wellness journey.

Thank you so much for reading this week’s Monday Meditation.

In love and gratitude