Every morning is a fresh start. No mistakes have been made; nothing has gone “wrong.”
We get a blank slate every single morning of our lives.
The way we begin can determine our mood for the rest of the day, essentially dictating our conversations, actions and overall attitude.
The Maasai tribe of Tanzania greet each other every morning not by asking, “How did you sleep?” but rather, “How did you wake?” implying that yes, we are in control of how we handle the good, the bad and the annoying—every morning.
For those of us who occasionally wake up on “the wrong side of the bed,” we are in fact making a decision about whether or not we want to use that as an excuse for an ensuing bad mood for the remainder of our waking hours.
Everyone I know starts their day in a different way.
Some people get up and immediately jump on Facebook or Instagram to see what overnight love they received. Others wake up and switch on the news first thing (which, let’s face it, isn’t going to put us in a good mood these days), and others wake up ungodly early to run 10 miles while it’s still dark outside.
One friend of mine who lives in New York City even went so far as to downsize in space, but pay more rent, so as just to have the tiniest balcony where she could stand in the morning, looking over her neighborhood while sipping tea, knowing that she needs those few minutes of quiet time to take on the day and the big city.
For me, traveling for work and being on location a couple times each month, every morning is completely different. I’ve learned to create a morning ritual for which country, time zone and sleeping arrangement don’t matter.
I could be waking up next to a camel in a desert camp of Morocco, on the floor of a bus station in Bolivia or beneath the down comforter of the Kempinski Resort in Jordan—and still I’ll be able to start my mornings the same way.
It’s simple: I disconnect in order to reconnect.
I put my phone on airplane mode before I go to sleep, so when my alarm goes off in the morning, I’m not distracted by any notifications.
After I turn off the alarm, I put my phone away for the next hour, leaving technology to be dealt with after I’ve had “me” time. (The idea is to disconnect from all screens or devices so that we can reconnect with ourselves.)
Some people may use this time to pray, journal, color or do a few sun salutations. There are many ways we can push the reset button.
Personally, I use this time to observe nature. Wherever I am in the world, I will go outside and sit. If outside isn’t available for some reason, I’ll sit in front of a window.
I begin by greeting the world, paying deliberate attention to whatever birds, trees or wind are surrounding me as I address the earth with,
“Good morning Pacha Mama. I acknowledge you. I appreciate you. I respect you. And I will do everything in my power to protect you and treat you right today.”
Then I sit, with the intention being fully present for 15 to 20 minutes.
Some days it’s easier to meditate than others. Sometimes my eyes stay closed for only 10 seconds—and some days for 10 minutes. If meditation doesn’t come easily that day, it becomes a “morning of awareness,” where I close my eyes and just listen to the sounds around me. If my eyes continue to drift open, I allow it. For me, observing the world of natural beauty around me instills a feeling of peace.
I believe we can all get this same peace from morning quiet time.
In this current age of pervasive technological availability, I have found it critical to my mental health, daily attitude and personal and professional relationships to consciously disconnect from screens at the start of the day.
Choosing to disconnect from digital buzz allows space for internal clarity and calm. For one hour every morning, we can consciously reconnect with ourselves before launching into the day.
Author: Elizabeth Gottwald
Images: Courtesy of Author
Editor: Toby Israel