Create Your New Morning Ritual


Create Your New Morning Ritual  

 August 14, 2018  


How you start your day is very important. Do you start your day off to the races with your head filled with your “To Do List?” Or do you start your day with gratitude, intention, and feeling grounded? Which way do you think best sets you up for success?

In my corporate career, I started my day at 4 AM. I made my cup of coffee, turned on CNBC to see what had happened overnight in the Asian and European markets, and to assimilate the market-moving issues that might be the focus for investors. If my Wall Street Journal was not at my door by 4 AM … I was pissed.

Ten years ago, I dramatically changed my morning routine—and transformed it into a ritual. Before I opened my eyes, I started with reflecting on 3 gratitudes for the day and took 7 deep diaphragmatic breaths. Then I arose, made my morning coffee, and settled in for an hour to read poetry, scripture and philosophy and to journal. WOW! This new way of starting my day is a foundational element of my transformational journey. I continue to learn and tweak my morning ritual.

I use the word “ritual” with intention. Please reflect for a minute and compare the feelings that spring up when you say the word “ritual” with the feelings the word “routine” dredges up. What does the word “routine” connote to you? Does it carry overtones of “must” do, or “should” do, or discipline? Do you start your day with just going   through the motions?

I like the phrase “morning ritual” because it carries the intention that our lives are sacred, that how we take care of ourselves first – and first thing in the morning – is how we are best prepared to be of service to others during the day. Most of us know the airline attendant’s directive – in case of emergency, put on your oxygen mask first. You must take care of yourself, first, then you will be able to take care of your child or partner next to you on the plane. Quite simply: the start of your day is your time to put yourself first – to be connected and centered -- to be the best you can be to meet the challenges and the opportunities of your day.

In this newsletter, I want to share two different approaches and frameworks on how to start your day. As you read my synopsis of their advice, please reflect on the following questions:

  • What resonates most with you?
  • What do you think might work best for you, starting tomorrow?
  • What might you want to integrate at some point over the next few weeks?

We are talking about change: changing your morning habits. Perhaps you may have to get up a little earlier. Perhaps, it will be hard, at first. Perhaps you will come up with a million excuses about why it's impossible for you to make any changes at all – at least, right now.  

In our book, “Be Happy NOW!”, I start the Appendix: Ali’s List of Changes and Choices, with this quote from Carl Rogers:

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am,
then I can change.”

So, I respectfully request that you go into this with an open mind. Accept the fact that what you are currently doing has made sense to you. Accept yourself, just as you are. Then, accept the challenge – you have the power to decide – you have the power to change.

 One of my favorite Robin Sharma “Brain Tattoos” (his phrase) is:

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle,
and beautiful at the end.”  


Robin Sharma: The 5 A.M. Club and the Routines of the Masters

Robin Sharma has been writing about the 5 AM Club since his first best seller, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,” which I highly recommend. Now, Robin has formalized this teaching into a new book, “The 5 AM Club,” which will be released on December 4th and is available for pre-order now on “Winning starts at your beginnings. And your first hours are where the great heroes are made. Own your own mornings and you’ll master your life.”  This is the powerful introduction to “The 5 AM Club.”

These notes are taken from a class I participated in earlier this year – the MindValley 66-Day Quest created by Robin Sharma: “Think Like a Hero; Perform Like a Genius; Live Like a Legend.”

The very first routine is to get up at 5 AM every morning – it is a “pristine” time of the day. Give yourself time – whether that be 1 hour or 3 hours – to awaken your “Mindset, Heartset, Healthset, and Soulset,” as Robin says.

The second routine of the masters is Robin Sharma’s “The 20-20-20 Formula,” as follows:

  1. The first 20 minutes: Movement. Do the exercises that you like – run, plank, skip – and sweat. Hydrate and breathe. When you move and sweat, you release BDNF. Dr. Ratey, author of “Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” called BDNF, “Miracle-Grow for the brain.” (BDNF stands for Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor.) There is a lot of science behind the physiological effects of exercise – the release of  toxins and activation of the “good” hormones.   
  1. The second 20 minutes: Thinking, Reflection and Introspection: Write in a journal, be introspective, meditate, write your daily gratitudes, say your prayers and your affirmations.  Think about your day, set your intentions. Get your day right – “your days are your life in miniature.” 
  1. The third 20 minutes: This is all about listening to podcasts, audio-books and documentaries, reading poetry and inspirational or spiritual messages. Review your notes from a recent seminar or video course. Be a life-long learner. 

And, there it is --- Movement, Thinking, Learning – how to start your day from Robin Sharma. Robin  talks about the start of your day as the "holy hour." You pick the specifics that work for you. 

My personal experience: I am a morning person. I awake without an alarm by 5 AM. I wanted to be able to have my cup of coffee and say my gratitudes, so I awoke at 4:30 AM. And my personal obstacle was introducing movement in the first 20 minutes. Sure, stretching – a sun salutation – but sweating, very first thing, was a challenge. I get why it makes sense. I understand the benefits. It is just my habits are so ingrained to start with meditation and gratitudes and then progress to physical activity, that it has not worked for me – yet! (Hmm... change is hard in the beginning. I will keep an open mind.) After my morning reading of scriptures and meditation, I exercise. In the gym, it is easy to listen to podcasts and on-line courses. I also walk my beautiful lab, Yogi, for 20 minutes each morning. I signed up for Netflix because they have a great roster of documentaries and I have also signed-up for 3 on-line courses this year. I am committed to life-long learning.

What resonates with you? What one piece of this morning routine makes sense to you – something you would start to do tomorrow?

Kenneth Soares: Morning Rituals

I have followed Kenneth Soares on Insight Timer for some time He is a coach, trained in EFT, NLP, and one of the creators of PowerThoughts Meditation Club. I  signed up earlier this spring for his 10-Day Course on Insight Timer: Manifest Your Ultimate Goals and Dreams. Day 10 is a magnificent conclusion: Awakening With Morning Rituals. In this last session, Kenneth shares his recommendations for a 30 Minute Morning Ritual.

There are 5 Steps: 

  1. Smile: for 2 minutes. Start your day, right away, with a smile and hold it for a full 2 minutes. Smile whether you feel like it or not. The brain does not recognize the difference between a “real” smile and a “fake” smile, as he says. So just smile – with your full face --- and maybe even laugh at yourself. 
  1. Move, stretch and breathe: for 10 minutes. Use your body and jump start the interconnections between your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual arenas. Whatever you choose to do – make it fun! Do what you want to do – whether that be stretching, walking, yoga, jumping, planking, push-ups, jogging, etc. Create energy in your physical body and raise your vibration. Just do it – no excuses. Kenneth challenges us: “Excuses are lies disguised as truths.” End this step with 1 minute of deep breathing with your hands on your heart.
  1. Manifestation – visualization, goals and affirmations: for 10 minutes. Pick your favorite tools. Your tools could include positive affirmations, guided meditations, visualizations of your goals, either short-term or long-term dreams. 
  1. Gratitude: for 5 minutes. Have a daily gratitude practice. Gratitude is “the water and sunshine to the seeds and plants in your garden.” Start a Gratitude Journal – with your 3 daily gratitudes. Perhaps your gratitudes are for the most important people in your life or your accomplishments, or for the awe in Nature or small things you may have taken for granted in the past. 
  1. Intention: for 3 minutes. Set your intention for the day. How do you want the day to feel like? Is it fun, joyful, adventuresome, productive, etc.? Shine your intention into every room in your house, into every relationship – and send it out to the universe. Most importantly, end this step with a 10 second dance! How fun.

And, there it is --- Smile, Move, Manifest, Gratitude, Intention -- how to start your day from Kenneth Soares. You pick the specifics that work for you.

My personal experience: I am adding the idea of starting my day with a smile. I am already doing the moving and stretching and walking. I use Brendon Burchard’s 1-Page Productivity Planner from my Certified High Performance Coaching™ practice for my goal-setting. I have morphed my daily gratitude practice to a daily Gratitude Journal. I am now on Day 149. I find that writing down my gratitudes is very meaningful – I am building deeper and new neural connections in my brain – and it is fun to go back and review, periodically. For the last step – I think I may need to sign-up for dancing lessons.  [Mental correction since I let a little bit of my NY humor slip in. I accept my dancing skills just as they are and feel the joy in this day.]

What resonates with you? What one piece of this morning routine makes sense to you – something you would start to do tomorrow? Remember: No excuses.                                                                   

What Is YOUR New Morning Ritual?  

In this short newsletter, I have not been able to give all the research and depth of thought behind both Sharma's and Soares' recommendations for a morning ritual. I have done considerable research myself -- and my personal opinion is they are sharing well-founded recommendations based on the latest research into the mind-body connection, positive psychology, as well as personal experience and work with clients. 

In conclusion, I believe what is important is to experiment and discover what works best for you. You decide what changes you are ready to make, immediately -- tomorrow. What changes do you want to think about? Let’s talk about it.

My challenge – just take action. Try one small step – or 2 - or whatever makes sense for you.

My morning ritual continues to evolve. And this I know:

  • Whether it is 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour – my time of awaking is my sacred hour – a time for me -- to start my day, centered and in peace.
  • In this sacred time, it is important to touch all the bases of mind, body, emotion and soul, because they are all inextricably interconnected.
  • How I start my day --- sets my energy and intention for the day – and how I live the day. My new and evolving morning ritual has been transformational for me.

Wishing you joy and peace on your journey as you change some habits and create your own unique morning ritual.


Till next time, 

 May you be happy now and always, Alison 


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P.P. S.: Here is a link from my website to preview and purchase our book, “Be Happy NOW!”

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