Where are you when soft blue edges your windows?
I regret to say that most times dawn strokes those panes, I’m still tangled in dreams. Even though I’m a self-professed morning person, I will myself from the sheets far later than sunrise on most mornings.
We all love sleep. We all need sleep—studies show that we aren’t getting enough of it. Sleep deprivation can mess with our brains and our hearts, our hopes and our loves. Enough sleep can give us wings. (Hello, 7 A.M. Wonder Woman.)
Our capacity to wake in the right way—to recognize a morning as a morning and to do something about it besides complain and check our phones—can impact us similarly.
I’ve always known this. Crafting a deliberate morning routine and sticking to it with a desperate, half-hearted, religious kind of zeal made me really know this. I’m here to say that a morning routine can change your life, and it can do so easily, lovingly, and simply.
A morning routine honors you (when the rest of the day may be about others).
I am a giver. I spend more hours of my day offering my hands to others than offering them to myself (ouch). There is value in service and tending to others’ hearts. But, dear one, there is greater value in tending to your own.
A morning routine is—you guessed it—all about you. I know this because everyone’s morning routine, when crafted intentionally, is as unique as her voice. A morning routine unconsciously prioritizes your needs.
My routine, for example, has a lot to do with moving slowly. I know what moving too hastily does to me in those early hours—it sets my day up for unneeded frenzy. I also light a candle and do some deep breathing (even a few seconds of this will do). Yes, these things I do for me.
How often do you get to fully and sweetly honor yourself? I’m guessing, not as often as you deserve.
A morning routine does not mean getting up two hours earlier than usual (although this is possible). A morning routine should offer familiarity and ease, without the burden of the days to-dos and stresses (and others’ demands).
For many people, a routine means ten minutes of meditation before crawling out of bed. For others, it’s an hour of painting before work, three minutes of listening to your favorite song after jumping in the shower.
Honoring yourself can, in time, teach you about honoring others. And honoring others can help you navigate intimate relationships, careers, and thorny social situations with greater grace and ease.
It promotes mindfulness.
I decided that my morning routine should be about gentleness. Think about the way the sun rises—does it rise in a fury? Does it rise to get things done? My morning routine moves with the sun: gently, tenderly, consciously.
This is the beginning of mindfulness, the heart of it: gentleness.
I spend those minutes of waking the day just observing what happens: what I hear, what thoughts appear, what emotions creep into my fingers and toes. I let these things exist without judgment.
If I feel so inclined, I meditate.
Even a few minutes of conscious observation and calm awareness enable me to strike a tone of mindfulness from the moment I open my eyes. I am, quite simply, a better human when I am more mindful. We all are.
I am also more curious. A state of conscious awareness is quietly exuberant. It is desperate for possibility. It lets us wander the flowers in unadulterated wonder.
More of that, please.
Set the standard for self-care.
A morning routine can be revelatory. It can show you what self-care really is. Giving yourself the fullness of a morning—all for you, even if you have to go to work, even if you feel you don’t have the time—can expand and explode this concept in a profound way.
My routine–such small gestures of love and kindness at dawn!–made me long for the earth in a physical way. It made me realize what I was putting into my body, more conscious of what I was putting on it. I naturally began to eat healthier. Some days, I’d exercise at dawn just to feel the sun’s rays, just to breathe them in.
Most importantly, I gutted my medicine cabinet of beauty and shower products, many of which contained harmful, sneaky chemicals (parabens, sulfates, and phthalates). I traded these for non-toxic, plant-based products that now turn my shower into a veritable garden and give my skin a real goddess glow.
I stopped drinking coffee, as much as I love the flavor. My heart races less; my pulse feels surer and truer. I rub my wrists with essential oils.
My self-care is mind and body based: my morning routine makes sure both get the love they need.
Write the melody of your day before it begins.
You’re the one writing this song. A morning routine, no matter how brief, no matter how simple, lets you pick the first notes. They can be any notes. (I’m a fan of E major, personally.)
Enough said, beautiful.
Process your dreamland wanderings.
I’m an active dreamer, and always will be. Sometimes my nighttime narratives feel more real and potent than my day-time narratives.
Psychologists have been claiming for centuries that dreams are our brain’s chance to process the day’s events; psychoanalysts like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud find in dreams the keys to our deepest, most fundamental subconscious truths.
Yanking ourselves from our dreams without the chance to process them can feel unfair, at least to our subconscious. It may even prevent you from making some profound self discoveries. (I’m all about tapping into deep intuition, whenever the opportunity arises.)
Dream processing can take many shapes and forms. Some dreamers like to jot down dreams in a dream journal; others simply replay any nighttime visions in those first waking moments. I like to do a combination of both.
Intensive dream analysis can give you answers with which to steer your day. Even a cursory analysis can remind you that your intuition is potent and alive, and that your heart and mind are always at work—in the best possible way.
Claiming the dawn taps into your own reserves of power.
There’s a reason why poets, authors, and artists have used the dawn, the rising of the sun, as a metaphor for empowerment, new beginnings, and possibility.
The morning enables you to tap into your own reserves of power after restful slumber, when your body repairs itself and knits together memories.
It can be hard to feel the possibility of waking into your own power. Yet all of these things cited here—setting the tone for your day, giving yourself space for you—can aid in developing the awareness that you are powerful.
Mornings can have personal resonance, too. A toxic ex-partner would always sleep late, and for some reason, this impinged my ability to wake with the dawn and experience my true power. Reclaiming my mornings has been an important component of my healing process.
The mere act of establishing a morning routine gives you power.
Many of us claim we “have no time” for a routine, but making time for it defies your own self-imposed limitations. It proves you have control over more than you realize—you have more empathy and mindfulness and kindness than you will ever know.
That type of realization can change your life.