There is a very ordinary and unassuming practice that many people just like you subscribe to — I'm one of them. It helps them feel better, get more done, and feel more focused and centered.
Waking Up Early.
I've been doing this consistently for quite a while now, and more recently in the past few months my practice has become a more strict routine that is very effective. Let me break down exactly what I do each morning (weekday mornings that is, weekends are a little more casual), and in my next post I'll talk about the benefits and why you should think about doing this too. So here are the five things I do in the morning after I get up, before the morning routine of getting myself and the kids ready commences:
- Silent prayer and meditation. I close my eyes and stay totally silent. I try hard not to focus on random things. But if a concern arises, or a person comes to mind, I pray for them/it.
- Review my Goals. I have a list of goals that I am working towards as well as what is essentially my personal mission statement. I review this every morning. In the world of personal development, this is akin to what is often called "Affirmations."
- Dream Big and Realistic. For a short amount of time, I imagine what it will be like when I complete one of my goals. But I'm also realistic and remind myself of the things which I actually need to do in order to achieve these goals. In the personal development world, this is often called "Visualization."
- Read. A spend a few minutes reading. I have been (and probably will continue) to read some Christian spiritual classics. Right now I'm reading The Wounded Healer, and plan to read The Imitation of Christ next. I have a whole long list of books I would like to read that aren't directly related to my field of study and this is the place that I am slowing working through that list.
- Bible Reading. I read my Bible, typically in Greek, and spend time reflecting on what I read.
- Journal. Some people recount their whole day in a journal, and maybe one day I will too. But for now, my journaling is pretty simple. I make notations on whether I finished my 6 morning rituals in this list, and make quick notes about anything on my mind, anything I'm excited about, concerned about, etc.
- Exercise. I have been doing a 25-35 minute kettle bell routine on M/W/F, and a 7-minute workout on Tu/Th. I'll be actually doing the 25-35 each day now, as I'm currently doing a fundraising weight loss challenge with several colleagues at Acadia Divinity College.
This doesn't take as long as it looks, and I often change up the routine based on the time I have. My average morning I am in silence for 8 minutes, review goals for 5, dream for 2, read for 8, read the bible for 8, journal for 4, and then exercise. That's 36 minutes plus exercise, so just over an hour. And in case you're wondering, I do keep myself to that time using the wonderful Seconds app on my iOS device. Days when I was up late and so slept longer, I cut back. Days I'm up early, I do a longer routine.
While I've told you what I do, I probably haven't convinced you to give it a try. I'll talk about the benefits in my next post.