Establishing an empowering ritual before work in the morning creates a lot of momentum, energy, motivation, whatever your label is – it feels awesome and more work gets done from an emotionally balanced state. I don’t pride myself on having a consistent ritual, I’ve been on and off for the past two months and re-committed just last week. All I can say is that I have a long way to go, but my morning ritual makes such a huge difference throughout my day. For my ritual, I incorporate physical, mental, and spiritual components which I believe is a great starting focus before work. Some may not like my use of ‘ritual’ because it entails something that is done on a regular basis, but I can say I do it regularly on my good days. Let’s not stretch this out longer than it has to.
Here are the 8 parts of my ritual in sequence once I wake up:
1. Drink a glass of water (1 minute)
I’m no expert in nutrition, but our bodies are made up of 70% water and when I sleep for 5-7 hours without drinking anything, intellectually it seems like having some water is a solid idea, even if I don’t feel thirsty. I figure that some of you reading this would want to know some of the nutritional benefits, as if my explanation is insufficient. Very well then.
Drinking water first thing in the morning has been said to speed up your metabolism by 24% and makes you feel full so you don’t pig out first thing in the morning, it balances the lymph system which fights infections, increases the rate of production for new muscle and blood cells, and purifies the colon which allows you to absorb nutrients more effectively – to name a few.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a glass half-full or half-empty person. Fill up your glass first thing in the morning.
2. Give your body a quick stretch (7 minutes)
Stretching after my glass of water is awesome, especially after I’ve been lying down for 5-7 hours. I hold a stretch position for 20 seconds before moving onto the next stretch. It’s relaxing and shows how stiff our bodies get from staying in the same position for extended periods of time. Morning stretching increases blood flow, loosens up muscles by raising the body’s core temperature, improves posture especially for those who sit at desks most of their work day, and leads to fewer aches and pains. Figuratively speaking, stretching is also a great metaphor in that you are expanding your awareness by challenging yourself throughout the day, always trying to take things to the next level.
3. Intention meditation (10 minutes)
Many of you may turn the other way when I mention meditation for various reasons, perhaps you think it’s boring and you tried it one time and it didn’t work. You know better than to assume that success happens over the weekend. Basically any personal development blog will have something pertaining to meditation and its benefits when practiced consistently.
My meditation incorporates the Silva Method’s 3-2-1 technique, where I first place focus on my body and relax each part starting from my head to my toes (3 minutes). Then I mentally relax my mind by focusing on a tranquil scene in my head, which is often a memory of beautiful landscapes while I traveled in Okinawa, engaging my 5 senses as much as possible (2 minutes). Then I relax my eyelids and imagine a cool sensation melting down my body, further relaxing each body part down to my feet (1 minute). After, I repeat a handful of incantations: Experiences are happening for me; No thought lives in my head rent free; I carry myself with love, gratitude, inspiration, and enthusiasm, I love what I do and I do what I love (1 minute). Finally, I focus on an intention – say, inspiration – then I allow my mind to bring up memories where I felt inspired and I extend my hand out and pull it to my heart. I pull around 6-10 memories, as some might call emotional stacking (3 minutes), and then come out of the meditation.
This may sound like some pop psychology bullshit. I can only vouch for myself and say these past 6 months meditating ~5x/week have been an incredibly revitalizing experience and gives me a sense of inner peace before I get immersed in social media and all the other things racing to get my attention. You don’t have to be a deeply spiritual person to experience the benefits of meditation.
Some benefits according a couple studies, include more emotional balance, lower blood pressures, a state of relaxation which is said to increase immunity, and promotes better sleep which makes the mind more sharp to tackle any goals for the day.
4. Strike a power pose (1 minute)
After my intention meditation, I strike a power pose suggested by Amy Cuddy for about 1 minute. I raise my arms to the ceiling and spread my legs out while looking up with my eyes wide open and the biggest smile I can manage. It’s extremely refreshing and shows how much our physiology can change our state.
5. Take a quick shower and end it using cold water (5 minutes)
Rinsing my body in the morning is a crucial part to me fully waking up and I recently just started using semi-cold water in the end to condition myself to embrace discomfort. Cold showers improves circulation, increases fertility (sperm count decreases when the testes’ temperature increases), and increases overall energy and well-being.
Ending a shower with cold water doesn’t feel good in the moment, it’s rather shocking, but it’s well worth the refreshing feeling after, especially now that summer has come around. Be intelligent and keep your cool.
6. Salad for breakfast (10 minutes)
There will be a lot of readers disputing this, saying that it’s best to consume carbs in the morning so your body can use that energy for the rest of the day. Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, but I don’t know about that. I’ve been using the saying just because it’s so ingrained in our culture. But having a simple tomato and cucumber salad, along with a banana protein shake and some spinach really energizes me and the idea of eating raw veggies first thing in the morning seems badass to me. It really depends on what your dietary goal is though and I’m not the guy to ask. I’m not trying to bulk up, I just want energy – and my breakfast provides me lots of energy up until lunch at 12pm, but I also snack in between. Anyway, salad is an underrated breakfast.
7. Watch something inspirational while eating breakfast (15 minutes)
Putting on something motivational in the morning is another amplifier for greatness while I enjoy some morning salad. I am currently really into Brendan Burchard, who has an energetic persona and gives great simple tips. One strategy he uses is placing an alarm that goes off three times a day. Each time the alarm goes off, it displays three words that describe his highest self. For me, they are enthusiastic, confident, and focused. It’s an effective strategy to disrupt a pattern you may be running at the moment and reminds you who you are. I also follow Eric Thomas, who has weekly webisodes called T.G.I.M (Thank God It’s Monday) with short bits of inspiration that can be soaked up in 5-10 minutes.
8. Express gratitude for what you have in your life over some hot tea (7 minutes)
I enjoy drinking tea or hot water after breakfast. I read drinking hot fluids after eating helps to dissolve fats consumed, but I don’t even know what that means and the online community has a lot of mixed reviews concerning this assertion. In any case, I enjoy hot tea or hot water – it’s my comfort drink after a meal and enjoying my cup of tea with a side of gratitude is a great combination. I just state anything I am grateful for: I am grateful for this cup of tea because it makes me feel more warm and alive. I am grateful for my amazing girlfriend because she is so thoughtful and caring. I am grateful for this overcast weather because it’s cooler than yesterday and I can do with less humidity. I am grateful that my family is so supportive of my aspirations. I am grateful for the bratty ass students here in Japan because it builds my patience and problem solving abilities. The list goes on. An attitude of gratitude is a great place to be centered at before putting in work.
Now you’re ready to kick ass. By allowing yourself an hour to get a quality ritual in the morning before the rest of the day, it promotes a paradox of peace and enthusiasm. Create a morning ritual for yourself, or steal mine. I took a lot of my rituals from this amazing internet entrepreneur, Stefan Pylarinos. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Just take what resonates with you and keep the wheels rolling.
What do you think about this ritual? What is your morning ritual? Please leave a comment below.
About the author: Gavin Masumiya is a self-proclaimed lifenthuziast immersed in Japanese culture teaching English while building up his life coaching business. A man of many shades, he enjoys a hot cup of green tea and some quiet time with John Gray’s “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” or dancing the night away like there’s no tomorrow. In any case, he’s out to carve his own path and vibrantly empower the world in the process. Read his blog here: www.lifenthuziast.com