Your Day. Your Way.
Morning has always given me my strength. Her cold, quiet hours provide invigorating energy. When I respect Morning, I receive her benefits all day long.
My days start in the dark, usually around 04:00. Years ago, I traded in the alarm clock for a natural way to start the morning: I go to sleep early and wake naturally. The first hour or so after waking should be calm and relaxed, so I usually spend it quietly reading with a cup of hot coffee.
It’s a ritual. Relax for the first hour. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to get out the door on time. Time should be respected and the best way to respect time is to respect your time. Each phase of my morning ritual, if I do it right, should be a mindful moment opening to the same infinity that lies between two integers. The deeper my concentration, the deeper my satisfaction.
A typical morning for me starts with coffee and a book followed by writing, training, stretching, and meditation. Ideally, I do this six days a week. However, never less than four. The benefits of my morning ritual deliver so much power to my day that six days a week is easy.
As a writer, it only makes sense to write for myself. A short journal entry that’s no less than five-hundred words. It works wonders for ideation and creativity. It’s a small action that helps solve problems and offer new insights. It’s probably the biggest contributor to my success. What does a journal entry look like? They’re messy, stream-of-consciousness writings that I usually jot down by hand (five pages is about five-hundred words in my scribbles).
Writing offers insight into how I think, and it provides another perspective on the people and situations I will be facing that day. It balances me and fortifies me. It provides focus and strengthens my character by forcing me to be honest with myself.
After writing, it’s time for aerobic and strength training. Moving the body motivates and enlivens. If you’re tired, move your body. If you’re depressed, go for a run. If you’re frustrated, lift some weights. If you want to grow and increase your vigor, train hard. Nothing boosts energy like exercise. I’ve never understood people who don’t exercise. It’s not always fun, but it’s almost always rewarding.
When I was smoking and drinking, exercise was easier. It was a way to offset my lifestyle. After quitting, I had to find a new reason to exercise. Ultimately, I stumbled onto an interesting human truth: We’re more likely to fight not to lose something than we are to fight to gain something. Exercising when I was smoking and drinking was a fight not to lose my health. Now, I’m fighting for better health. It’s far too easy to settle into the status quo. A fight I’ve fought for months now.
Once I have moved my body, I settle my mind by stretching for twenty minutes and meditating for thirty or so, bringing my focus to my body and breath. Here is where the previously mentioned mindfulness comes to life. Here is where the smallest bodily sensations offer the deepest insight. My mind wanders, and I gently bring it back to my breath. It’s the opposite of weightlifting or training. In meditation, I’m not pushing or pulling. I will feel the desire to do so, but will not act on that desire. Instead, I experience the desire and see what fruits of insight it offers. Every mind state can be a teacher if I open myself up to it.
Finally, I read my book of dailies. It’s a compass. A guidebook I wrote myself. Here I’ve written my slogan for my life: Love life. Perfect life. Beautify life. It is your art. I add to this book and redact from it every month so it remains relevant to me and my life.
Every moment, every movement, every word we utter is an expression of self. The more mindfulness we bring to these actions, the more artfully we live our lives, and the more artful we live, the more beauty we can bring to the world.
Jack Woodyard, Tokyo Japan