Why a Morning Ritual is Important


Why a Morning Ritual is Important

February 28, 2023

I passionately believe how we start our day is vitally important to managing stress and raising our energy frequency, at the get-go, every day.  Many people ask me: "Why do you call it a Morning Ritual rather than a Morning Routine? Why are are you so passionate about consistently committing to a Morning Ritual? What is the evidence it can be a game changer?" Good questions. In brief, here goes!

As you know, I deeply believe words are important. I like the phrase Morning Ritual because it carries the intention that our lives are sacred. What are the feelings the word Routine conjures up? I hear and feel the 'must and should' does, the discipline, and the  effort of 'trying'. For me, ritual carries a deeper emotion of honor and belief in mySelf.  

  • Whether it is 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour – my time of awaking is sacrosanct. This is my time to focus on how to be the best I can be to meet the challenges of the day and be prepared to be of service to others. It is my time to put myself 1st -- to start my day grounded, centered and in peace.
  • In my Morning Ritual, I include practices for my Healthset, Mindset, Heartset, and Soulset. Indeed, the mind, body, heart, and soul, are all inextricably interconnected, and feed off each other in a dynamic reinforcing way. A Morning Ritual which activates mind, body, heart, and soul creates a vibrant and robust energy field.
  • How I start my day --- sets a higher frequency level, i.e., Energy, which raises the force field behind my intention for the day – and how I live the day. My Morning Ritual has been transformational for me. 

Why do I believe that a Morning Ritual can be a game-changer and truly transformational over time? My rationale is straightforward. Simply put, this is my Big Why: 

How We Start our Day .

Is How We Live Our Days 

And, How We Live Our Days 

Is How We live our Life! 

Creating your Morning Ritual can change your Life! I Know it has changed my Life.  Anecdotally, it has been transformational for many people. And, now there is science which supports our experiential learning. 

In my corporate career in Chicago and on Wall Street, I started my day at 4 AM. Like many people, I started my day thinking about what was on my very long To Do list for the day and week ahead. 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. I tried to make time to work out. However, with starting my day on the trading floor at 6:30 AM and not getting home until 8 PM, there was no time to work-out. There was no time to read books. There was no time … for Me!  Or so I thought. 

I have been developing my new Morning Ritual gradually for more than 12 years. I started slowly, with simply saying 3 gratitudes and taking 7 deep diaphragmatic breaths when I first opened my eyes in the morning. Over time I added a morning meditation practice, and learned the foundational components of different morning rituals from well-known and highly respected teachers such as Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, and Vishen Lakhiani. I followed the latest research in the body-mind connection, in positive psychology, and in neuroscience regarding the science behind why how you start your day is so important.   

There are a few common themes:

  • Make YOU the first priority of your morning. Do NOT read your emails and text messages first. Make the start of your day focus on you and your agenda. Make this time sacrosanct. 
  • Be consistent in your daily practice -- do your Morning Ritual every day, without fail. To be honest, I get thrown off track occasionally. However, I find that when I get caught up in the rush and crush of events – that is exactly when I most need to get back to my Morning Ritual. Consistency!
  • Make it fun! Keep your Morning Ritual alive and growing with you. Remember 'Neuron's that fire together, wire together'! 

Are you ready to start a new Morning Ritual, if you don't have one? Are you ready to add new practices to broaden and deepen your Morning Ritual? Are you ready to change your fully developed Morning Ritual to keep it alive and growing with you? I trust, if you have read this far -- you are Ready! Congratulations!!!

If it is a new habit, start simple with something you can and will do on a consistent basis. If you already have a Morning Ritual then explore what components/practices make sense for you to add.  If you have a beautiful and holistic Morning Ritual -- awesome! I find, however, that I need to change things up occasionally to keep it fresh and make sure a sacred ritual does not slip into a routine of simply checking the boxes and going through the motions. Or, heaven forbid, multi-tasking to fit everything in and be done in less time! Yup, I have been there, too. 

If you are not convinced or if it is just not the right time, okay. All in good time. I hope we will talk later. 

In past newsletters, I have reviewed the specific practices recommended by leading coaches. I have found this research to be informative. However, I also believe each of us is unique and  Morning Rituals which are deeply motivational need to be tailored to who and where we are on our journey.  That means You have to be in charge of creating your unique Morning Ritual!

So I would like to discuss a framework rather than a formula. 

Let's review a framework which touches on the foundational building blocks of a fully developed, holistic Morning Ritual. Admittedly, the focus of the work by Loehr & Schwartz in their book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, is much broader. The authors are presenting their coaching program which provides, in their words,  "a clear road map to becoming more physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned -- both on and off the job." [Ed. Note: I highly recommend this book; The Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2003. At publication, Jim Loehr was chairman, CEO, and co-founder of LGE Performance Systems and Tony Schwartz was president and founder of The Energy Project.]

My idea is for individuals to use this Energy Framework to design their Morning Ritual. It really is all about Energy! It is a beautiful construct for my theme: 

How you start your day … is how you live your day.
      And, how you live your days, is how you live your life! 

Loehr & Schwartz's Energy Framework has 4 foundational building blocks. If our objective is to be fully engaged for the day at hand, this means that our Morning Ritual is optimized when it incorporates practices that level up our: 

  • Physical energy;
  • Emotional connection; 
  • Mental focus; and
  • Spiritual alignment. 

Here are Loehr & Schwartz's recommendations for energy management to increase our capacity across all 4 sources of energy from the Table: Sustained High Performance in the Storm, on page 202. In effect, these recommendations create a menu of practices that can be used in creating a Morning Ritual. [My notes are in green.] 

  • Physical Energy: Supportive Habits/Skills (Small "Muscles") -- sleep; exercise; diet; hydration. Primary Capacities/Skills (Big "Muscles") -- heart and lungs; abdominals; shoulders and back; arms. 
            Does your Morning Ritual incorporate stretching and exercises which, over the course of the week, will activate all the "Big Muscles"?  
  • Emotional Energy: Supportive Habits/Skills (Small "Muscles") -- patience; openness; trust; enjoyment. Primary Capacities/Skills (Big "Muscles") -- self-confidence; self-regulation; interpersonal effectiveness; empathy/caring.  
           Does your Morning Ritual incorporate guided meditations, prayers, readings, gratitudes, and journaling which, over the course of the week, will activate all the "Big Muscles?" 

  • Mental Energy: Supportive Habits/Skills (Small "Muscles") -- visualization; positive self-talk; positive attitude; mental preparation. Primary Capacities/Skills (Big "Muscles") -- focus; realistic optimism; time management; creativity.  
           Does your Morning Ritual incorporate productivity tools/planners, visualization meditations, readings, intention setting practices, etc., which over the course of the week, will activate all the
           Big "Muscles"? 

  • Spiritual Energy: Supportive Habits/Skills (Small "Muscles") -- honesty; integrity; courage; persistence. Primary Capacities/Skills (Big "Muscles") -- character; passion/commitment; integrity; service to others. 
          Does your Morning Ritual incorporate prayers, spiritual meditations, journaling, and renewal of your purpose, which over the course of the week, will activate the Big "Muscles"? 

Isn't this a thought provoking list of habits and capacities? Do you agree and see how this framework is a great starting point to create or refresh or broaden and deepen your Morning Ritual? 

Perhaps it may help to review my Morning Ritual and see how I have applied this framework in my life. 

Alison's Morning Ritual: The 4 elements of my Morning Ritual are: Smiling & Hydrating; Stretching; Meditation & Grounding; Setting Intention & Priorities 

  • Smile & Hydrating: As I walk up the stairs to my Loft in the morning, I Smile. I can feel my smile radiate across my entire face and illuminate my space. You know, smile with your mouth, eyes, cheeks & ears. Lol. I am welcoming the new day with specific gratitudes. I also drink an 8 ounce glass of water. It is important to start the day by flushing the toxins from our body and our brain. I often add 1 teaspoon of homemade Himalayan salt water, also known as sole water, courtesy of my massage therapist, to enhance the detox effectiveness.  
  • Stretching: I have a great stretching routine starting with a Sun Salutation, shoulder rolls, neck stretches, flowing on down through my hips, legs ankles and feet. I am waking-up my body – gently. I may add/substitute push-ups, planks, marching in place or going up and down the stairs several times. I find that generating energy improves my positivity and self-confidence. Right now, I am working out with a Personal Trainer for 1 hour, 3 days a week starting at 7 am. On the other 4 days, I cut the time allocation to only 10 minutes. 

  • Meditation & Grounding: As one of my favorite teachers, Davidji says, “Comfort is queen.” Personally, I use my large comfortable chair/recliner. I consciously continue deep, diaphragmatic breathing -- in through the nose and out through the mouth, affirming: I breathe in light and breathe out darkness; I breathe in calm and breathe out overwhelm; I breathe in forgiveness and breathe out blame; I breath in love and breathe out pain; I breathe in love and breathe out love. Like everyone else, my mind wanders – and I let my breath bring me back to center. I currently am focused on guided meditations for Grounding, for Synchronicity, and for Trust. As you may know, my personal go-to meditation app is Insight Timer. With more than 160,000 free meditations, 16,000 meditation teachers and musicians with a wide range of topics and styles as well as Courses,  I choose 1 or 2 meditations that support and/or grow an area I am personally working on. When we start the day centered and grounded, our body-mind knows what it feels like to be calm and centered. Then, when things get off course – we already know where and how to come back to center. 

  • Setting Intentions & Priorities: Now I am ready to tackle the real world. The first thing is to set an intention. If you follow me on Facebook, you will usually see inspirational quotes against the backdrop of the sunset from my Lake House overlooking Lake Erie. Right now, my focus is on Don Miquel Ruiz's "The Four Agreements." Check it out: Facebook@alisonlanzafalls I then turn my focus to the 1-Page Productivity Planner from my High Performance Coaching Practice. On this one page, I have my top 3 priorities for the week as well as the one thing I must accomplish before the day is done. Energy flows where focus goes. I also ask a motivational question, such as: Who can I surprise today? Who needs me on my A-game today? What situation is likely to stress me out today and how will I deal with it from my best self? These questions are used in my High Performance Habits Coaching program and are included in Brendon Burchard’s “The High Performance Planner.” It may be the best planner on the market right now, in my opinion.

Recently I moved one practice to the evening to allow me more time for physical exercise and for setting my intention and agenda for the day. This change is key to managing my time and eliminating the temptation to multi-task.  I now do my Gratitude Journaling in the evening as I prepare for a good night's sleep. I highly recommend a Gratitude Journal because it imprints a feeling of grace and gratitude more strongly on our neural networks. A daily gratitude practice can turn a single lane highway into a super highway in your brain over time. There are so many things to be grateful for: running water, a good bed, a hot shower, a roof over our heads, our sense of taste or smell, our hearing, the family, friends and pets in our lives. Look outside at nature and be grateful for the wind, as I was last night. In the darkest of moments, you may find that you can draw on your gratitudes for strength. There is a large body of research which indicates a consistent gratitude practice will materially improve your mental health and outlook on life.

I hope this makes it clearer that I am presenting a framework, rather than a formula. You choose the amount of time you devote to each component. As I said earlier, it is okay to start with one or two simple practices and grow from there, when you are ready. You choose the order of the components. For a long time I started with gratitude journaling and meditations and left physical exercise to the end. More recently, I have moved physical exercise up in my Morning Ritual.  

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. You decide what changes you want to think about, and possibly integrate at a later time. 

My challenge to you is simple – just take action. Try one small step – or 2 - or whatever makes sense for you. Commit to a daily Morning Ritual. It just might change your Life! 

Till next time, with big love and deep gratitude,   

May you be happy now and always,  Alison 






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