#35 Morning Rituals — a Gateway to Clear Thinking

I wake up between 4:30–5:00 am 7 days a week. It’s come to a point where staying in bed past these hours is incomprehensible. Because I am trying to create a livelihood through writing and other creative projects, having a system in place where I can stir up inspiration is a necessity.

I’ve always been an early riser. There is something about the morning air, birds chirping, and sun rising that causes the mind to be in a state of peace, primed for creation.

The morning is a beckoning call to the spirit telling us that whatever happened yesterday is forgotten, and today is new just like you.

Even during my 20’s after a Friday night of vodka RedBulls, Gin, and Jameson’s, I was up at the break of dawn.

It all started when I was in middle school and had to make it to the early bus. I hated getting up. What was once a chore is now a habit that I’m happy I’ve adopted.

As a writer, it’s imperative that I put myself in a state of mind where creativity flows. I’ve adopted a set of morning rituals that I adhere to daily.

These rituals are not formulaic. They constantly change order and in the time in which I practice them. Nonetheless, they have become a vital part of my life.

Not only do these rituals harness my creative powers, but they also help me appreciate our world.

What is a ritual?

Rituals are duties designed to enhance the mental and physical capabilities of a person so one can perform optimally at any given task.

Through much trial and error, I’ve developed and fine tuned these practices. They are the “morning shower for my spirit.

Some of these rituals you may already practice. If not, I encourage you to try a few and eventually create your own.

Meditation

Meditation is simply being aware of thoughts and not letting them control you. A morning meditation is powerful. When we get up in the morning, our minds are clear and not yet bombarded with an onslaught of shit to do. Our days quickly become devoted to others (work, family, friends, etc.) so taking time in the morning just to be with yourself is crucial.

After consistent practice you’ll come to find that meditation is more than just a practice.

It’s a state of mind.

If you’ve never meditated before, check out the Headspace app. They have a free version that contains interactive guided meditations. I highly recommend it.

I meditate an hour every day. I learned a technique called Vipassana last year and it’s changed my life. Meditating for 13–15 hours a day for 10-days in silence is not for the faint of heart. The retreats are 100% donation-based. Food, showers, and living arrangements are taken care of. They have centers (non-religious) all over the world. If there is one gift I could give to the world, it would be to attend a 10-day session.

To get things started today, close your eyes. Sit in a comfortable position and focus on the inhales and exhales of your breath for 2–3 minutes. If your thoughts carry you away, start counting your breath. It’s difficult to think thoughts and count breaths at the same time. Open your eyes and give yourself a minute more of concentrating on your breath.

Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, Kobe Bryant, Russell Simmons, Tony Robbins, and Madonna are just a few famous folks that have a daily meditation ritual.

Gratitude

I compiled a list of everything I’m grateful for. I read it every morning.

See my Gratitude list here.

I actually feel wealthy before leaving my house. I feel lucky to have more than I will ever need.

Too often we get bogged down with problems at work and home. While these problems deserve careful attention, it’s important to understand that our life has meaning.

Sell your scarcity and purchase abundance.

When you’re grateful, others can see happiness in your demeanor. Unconsciously, you give others permission to feel happy too.

Make yo’ bed and clear space

I’ve been making my bed everyday for about 5 years. It’s a simple chore that has become a Zen-like practice. It’s also nice coming home to a bed that’s made after a long day. It’s kind of a metaphor for life. Do the work now and enjoy the comforts later.

I’ll also take 10–15 minutes to clean my room and home.

I’ve been practicing minimalism for a few years. Removing clutter has given me a sense of mental clarity. Having less things and also wanting less has opened up more energy for things I value. A walk in nature, the company of friends and family, reading and writing are a few of my favorite things in life. They don’t require me to have “stuff.”

Work dat booty!

I perform best when I workout in the morning. Even if I don’t have time to head to the gym, I’ll do something active in my room. A friend introduced me to this amazing app called called 12 minute Athlete. Try it and prepare to have your ass kicke, in the best way possible of course!

Exercise, not only makes me feel full of energy but towards the end of the day when I’m tired and mentally drained, I’m glad I already worked out.

Morning exercise jump starts the immune system and delivers a steady supply of sustained dopamine to the brain. Whether it’s weights, running, or going for a brisk walk, exercise keeps the body healthy which leaves us with the energy to be fully engaged in whatever we are doing.

An inspirational message a day keeps the psychologist away

I’ll put on a podcast or inspirational video while getting ready for the day.

I’ll refrain from watching the news. It’s how many people start their day and it’s a waste of our valuable energy. I don’t need to be bombarded with an onslaught of all the shit going wrong in our world. I’ll inform myself about world affairs later in the day.

Here are a few inspirational videos that I have watched more than once:

Nourishing the body

Currently, I’m intermittent fasting, but for those of you that eat breakfast, nourishing the body with proper food is fundamental to mental and physical health.

A prototypical breakfast is a green smoothie and oatmeal. This isn’t your typical breakfast. I have a video of the smoothie below and a recipe for oatmeal here.


Starting off the day with morning rituals takes no more than an hour and it’s a powerful way to start the day. I feel poised to take on the day and found that creativity flows more naturally. I’m happier and more at peace in whatever task I’m engaged in throughout the day.

I encourage you to cultivate a morning ritual. At the same time, try not to become attached to them because days will come where you can’t do them all. Life constantly throws us curve balls and we have to adjust. Morning rituals makes those curve balls seem less apparent so each moment gets our undivided attention.

With Love,

Anand Swamy

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