I’m trying to avoid getting too busy—too much with the world—too early in the morning. Busy-ness stalks me, but these days I know I can hold him off, allowing him to enter my realm only when I’m ready for him.
Again today, he hovered over my bed as I awoke with an over-active mind, him nudging me to get up and get to the tasks awaiting me. Call Nealey. Order Brain Octain. Purchase Roku. Take care of bills. Clean the yard so it’s pretty when photographer Mitch gets here at 9:30. Prep for client coming at 1:00. Check email. Work on blog. Post something on FB. Send content off to Holly. Do the laundry. And more. Always more, right? Always a to-do list. Always a full in-box.
But I know that the secret to a great day is, paradoxically, to hold off the day. Let the morning emerge slowly, as she will; allow the infusion of light and life to enter me at the cellular level so I move through the day feeling calm and abundant, with a presence as natural and reliable as the rotation of the sun. I’ve learned the value (and the deep pleasure) of entering the day gently and gracefully, as if I were slipping into a richly embroidered silk kimono, wrapping it snug around my waist, and feeling the comfort and the coolness of the sacred garment. Yes, the morning is a sacred garment.
This morning ritual starts early for me—around 5:30. Prayer, meditation, gratitude list, then writing. And the writing is always accompanied by a great cup of Bulletproof coffee! (I need to add Bulletproof coffee to my Official Foundational Practices list!) I watch the amazing Florida sun tentatively enter my tiny back yard. The multiple greens and golds of my little patch of nature reveal themselves, the fountain bubbles alive, and with deep pleasure, I feel Dash snuggle against my thigh as I receive another day.
It’s stunning every single morning. All senses are heightened in a matter of minutes. This quiet and reflective time grounds me, focuses me, and establishes equanimity and presence before I hurl myself headlong into the busy-ness my life requires.
Just yesterday, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits made a nice post on morning rituals. See his way of assuring a good day here. Research shows that how you begin your day has a tremendous effect on how the day unfolds. See this helpful piece in the Business Insider. So I took note recently when local artist Ramona Pelley shared with me her own morning “coming alive” as she walks her best companion Coal.
“Today as I walked with Coal in the cool morning air, I looked around at my neighbors passing by. Some walked with earplugs connected to iPods; others busily typed texts into their phones; joggers chatted as they ran, and cyclists screamed as they pedaled away. No one looked up at the trees, or down at the well-manicured lawns much less listened to the last of the song birds, tiny frogs, or the squirrels darting from tree to tree. As I follow my athletic dog, his tail wagging in doggy joy, I question objects on the concrete: sacrificial worms, dried to a crisp in that last tortured curl, and the slow moving slugs trying to lubricate their path to avoid the fate of the worm, and the occasional snail. I wonder, how did the slug loose his home, or how safe is that snail?”
Ramona brings the eye of an artist to her morning ritual, and she brings the questions of a seeker, too. She comes alive to her world by watching it closely, taking it in, and recognizing the kinship she shares with all of nature, even the lowly slug. And always present for her, gratitude. As she contemplates the creatures of the concrete, she concludes her note to me, “One more assignment completed for my list of gratitudes and acceptance for what I am and hopefully will be.”
As creatives, we strive to construct days that allow the creative spirit to flourish, allow us to give the best of who we are to the world. Ramona and I both know our morning ritual brings us alive to what is truly important. If I hold off on the email or the bills for a while, and return each morning to the practice of observing the world closely, I’m assured of experiencing my day more fully, happily, and productively.
The morning is a sacred garment. Share how you slip into yours with our readers. And if you don’t have a morning ritual, why not start one tomorrow?