My Morning Practice

For most of my life, getting out of bed was a be-grudging task involving multiple bouts of snoozing my alarm, mindless scrolling on social media through sleepy eyes and resentment toward whatever it is I had to get out of bed for. I’d go to school, college, work, or somewhere else I didn’t like being. I’d stay in bed for as long as possible, calculating the minimum time it would take me to shower, eat (or not) and get out the door so as not to be too late to my commitments, and thus maximizing time in bed. To me, the energy associated with this routine isn’t particularly reminiscent of a life that I’m inspired to live. It’s been about a year since I gradually began ditching this sort of morning mentality. That’s not to say I’ve totally wiped the slate clean, but for the most part, I start my day off in a totally different fashion.

John Butler has a song called “Livin’ in the City” which depicts a life lived in this sort of rat race fashion. It’s sort of funny listening to it and realizing how trapped and miserable so many of us feel in our routines.

Bells are ringing on your alarm clock
It's six in the morning,
man the race don't stop
It's just shit, shower,
shave just make it to the station
Waiting for the train...
goddamn train late again - Livin’ in the City - John Butler Trio

I’ve found that getting up for a reason other than my societal/work/school obligations has had a hugely positive impact on my over all well-being and clarity with tasks that I carry out. I still do the things that I do in my day, but rather than rising simply to jump straight into that, I take some time to myself before I do ANYTHING. I don’t talk to anybody, I don’t look at social media, I don’t start thinking about what I’m going to do that day. I get out of bed, brush my teeth (it eradicates the majority of the grogginess that comes with the morning) and I sit down.

I just sit. Call it what you like; meditation, prayer, ritual - it doesn’t matter. The point is that you’re just being. This idea that I needed to be doing all the time is what drove me to adopting this morning routine that I have to myself. Because I simply could not be doing all the time. I would try, but the fact is that I can’t just do things all of the time. Most of the time I don’t know what to do, and doing things when you don’t know what to do is just silly. I’d literally do things for the sake of it, so I felt like I was doing something. We have to be doing something. That’s what a lot of those “inspirational” instagram posts tell us. That’s what advertising tends to encourage. For the most part, that’s just the collective idea in the western world.

When I sit, sometimes I find clarity as to what my intention is for the day. Sometimes I can’t help but think about something in the future and I’m crippled by anxiety. Sometimes my legs fall asleep and it’s just uncomfortable. Whatever happens, I’m not trying to do anything about it. I’m just being with it all. It’s more worthwhile to be with things rather than attempting to avoid them by doing other things as a distraction. It might feel like it’s benefiting you short term, but long term it’s draining and not sustainable.

Starting your day off in this fashion is no quick fix (because quick fixes pretty much only exist in advertising narratives). It’s a tool that allows for you to find calm in the chaos of your daily life. Of course, you’ll need to allow yourself extra time in the morning to do this, but honestly, how valuable is that 15 minutes of aimless scrolling you do on your phone? Over time, you might notice a deeper sense of clarity. You might find that all those things you were trying to do before are happening without having to put yourself through a mini crisis. Life might become more fluid. That’s a nice thought.

If you’d like to get a little more information on meditation and some techniques to help implement some “alone time” into your day, here is a meditation 101 guide that you might benefit from.

David Boland