It’s 5.49am. I’ve been up for an hour and have meditated, exercised and now I’m writing – all practices I rely on daily to centre me and prepare me for the day.
As someone for whom mental health and balance must be actively cultivated and diligently maintained, nothing makes a bigger contribution than my morning routine because it changes who I think I am. It connects me with that part of myself that can do hard things, can trust herself to keep her promises, and can deliberately activate chosen mental and emotional states.
At first, this was the only time in the day when I could do those things. The minute my family awoke, I would get thrown around by the demands of the day and other people’s moods and actions. But, over years, the connection with all those abilities and beliefs has strengthened and I’m less like a sapling that’s easily snapped, and more like a tree with an actual trunk. I don’t want to say an oak tree, I’m definitely not there yet! Though, the presence of the word “yet” in that sentence holds great promise.
At first, the early start took discipline and an alarm clock. It was something I did TO myself in my efforts to improve. Now, it’s something that takes very little effort. I wake without an alarm clock and look forward to this part of the day, where everything is pure, nothing else in the world is there to knock me off my axis, and I get to spend the time doing things that make me feel wonderful.
I’ve had mornings where I’ve slept badly and decided to stay in bed but on those days, an “itch” settles within me and stays there. I am tired, reactive, grumpy and my body aches and grumbles with every little request the day brings. I’ve learned that the more tired I am, the greater the need for me to go inside and fetch that strong, capable, patient, loving woman who lives inside me and ask her to hold my hand for the day.
She still sometimes buggers off and leaves me standing there but she always shows up for some of the day and that makes a difference. Another way in which the “small big” can be felt.
My last activity for this morning’s routine will be my cold swim. This one is the hardest habit I have, but it’s also the one that most reliably makes me feel strong. As I swim – and once the initial EEEK sensations dies down – my mind literally goes, “I am a Baaaadaaaaasssss!!!” It always makes me smile.
I’ve probably said it a few times over the course of this blog, but writing this has brought it forward in my thoughts again – the key to connecting with the part of us that can express and experience joy really does seem to reside on the other side of our ability to do hard things.