It is easy to take for granted the opportunity of a new day. Days come and go – over 25 000 in a lifetime of 70 years, in fact – so it is easy to let slide the sacredness of each dawn. Once upon a time, however, the sun was worshipped more widely than it is today. It symbolized life – energy, strength, and rebirth. Widely influential amongst various cultures and traditions, the sun was known as the cosmic force that allowed things to grow and to flourish.
It still does, of course, symbolize and provide these things, but as our modern cultures have become more reliant upon technology, the blessings of the natural world go largely overlooked. Less connected to this natural world, we do not allow ourselves to be moved by these forces that guide our planet. By not honouring the divinity of our planet and its life-giving constituents, we also forget to honour the miracle of our own body and mind.
Dawn signifies that a new day has begun; the rising sun brings warmth, clarity, vision, and energy. By returning to this awareness, and by bringing gratitude to this transition, we gain the opportunity to take full advantage of what a new day offers us. By considering a few simple wellness practices, and by fine-tuning them to create our own set of personal morning habits, we align ourselves with the sun’s energy, finding a greater ability to harness our own highest potential.
1. Drink lemon water
When we rise each morning, the body is comprised of less water than it carried as we drifted into dreamland. Sometimes, depending on a variety of other factors including alcohol and sugar consumption, we end up at the point of dehydration upon waking. Starting the day off with water brings an added freshness to our being and invites a sense of flow through this rehydration. Water refreshes the more stagnant system after a long nights sleep.
Adding lemon to our water prepares the body for digestion. It stimulates our digestive fire and can also help to encourage our morning bowel movement. It helps to get things going – literally and figuratively – and is an easy morning ritual to help honour the waking body.
2. Move the Body
Movement looks and feels different dependent upon who is doing the moving. Beginning the day with some form of activity – whether that looks like an early morning run, strengthening exercises, or slow and steady stretches – does the body and the mind well. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and helps us to better manage stress. It kick starts the day, getting us going on the right foot.
3. Set Authentic and Powerful Intentions
Taking a moment in the morning to consider where we are is an invaluable tool that goes a long way. “Where we are” might be physical, emotional, spiritual, or energetic in some other way. “Where we are” sets the stage for where we are going. By tapping into the present moment we can then set powerful intentions to act as guideposts for the day ahead.
4. Give Thanks
Gratitude is the art of giving thanks – it offers us a moment to be appreciative for all that we have. It reframes our brain from seeing lack to seeing love. Taking a moment each morning to be grateful – for the sun for starters, and then for breakfast, for breath, for the smell of coffee, for the person by our side, or for anything and everything else – helps us to see the truth that this life is full of gifts. Making thanks-giving a daily morning routine, we start to see how each morning is truly a blessing we have been gifted. We change our days by changing the way we see the small things they are made up of.
When the time comes for food, there are a few things we can consider to help enhance the coming day.
5. Take Some Time Out Before Eating
Whether you practice intermittent fasting or simply prefer to allow your body some time to get going before eating, taking a pause before immediately consuming food in the morning has a wide range of benefits. Taking pause gives the digestive system a chance to get started, while intermittent fasting is shown to decrease inflammation, charge up the brain, and improve antioxidant function (among a wide array of other positive effects).
6. Consider Kombucha, Probiotics, or Other Fermented Foods
Fermented foods, drinks, and probiotics each help to ensure that a healthy microbial system lives within. These healthy microbes add diversity to the digestive system and in turn, support the immune system and fight inflammation. Well-balanced gut flora improves digestion and aids in nutrient absorption, allowing us to get the most out of our meals ahead. Before taking any supplements, consult with a specialist to ensure you’re taking a high quality and well-tolerated product.
7. Eat a Well-Balanced First Meal
There is much debate about what constitutes a good start to the day. The truth is that each body is unique – and so are its requirements. With that said, there are some general guidelines that can help us to set the stage for a balanced day. In our modern world, sugar, refined grains, and processed foods run rampant; they often take centre stage when it comes to breakfast. Smoothies with an excessive amount of fruit or fruit juice, sweetened cereals, and sugary caffeinated beverages can all cause a dramatic surge of blood sugar upon consumption. This spike will inevitably fall and will likely send us on a blood sugar rollercoaster for the rest of the day. The good news is we can avoid this by ensuring that our first meal is made up of sufficient fibre, protein, and/or healthy fats, which all help to slow the rate of sugar absorption. Think organic scrambled eggs with vegetables, or steel cut oats with almond butter and chia seeds.
8. Always listen to your body.
The body is an incredible organism that we often take for granted. Deep down, it knows what it needs. Start each day off by making an effort to pay conscious attention to what it calls for. This does not mean indulging in its every whim; quite simply, we are asked to pay attention to what it is saying through its sensations, its movements, and its thoughts. In the words of Rollo May, “It is amazing how many hints and guides and intuitions for living come to the sensitive person who has ears to hear what his body is saying.”
It doesn’t take much to start each day well – in fact, it is far simpler than we may have come to believe. There is no need for an elaborate multitude of rituals or strict rules; instead, we can simply bring greater consciousness to the mind and body as it enters the new day. By taking time to move, to reflect, to set intentions, and to give thanks, and then by refuelling with the best nutrients to help stabilize the mind and body, we are able to harness the innate power we carry within us. By setting the stage with morning habits of our highest intention, we find a greater ability to access the power of our highest potential.