It's become my sacred hour, something good that I do for myself, and without which I don’t feel ready to start the day. This hour consists of four 15-minute segments. Feel free to swap, make adjustments or add other components that you may need, as long as they contribute to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Here are the four steps of my “Sacred Hour” morning routine:
1. Yoga or other exercise
This is the physical part and makes a great start because it wakes you up and gives an instant energy boost. I normally do either a 15-minute yoga routine that includes 12 sun salutations, or a 7-minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercise followed by seven minutes of stretching. If done properly, 15 minutes of intense full-body training can be better than an hour on the treadmill, so take your pick!
This one is for your spiritual side and is a perfect follow-up to a yoga or stretching session. I love this part the most because this is where I calm down and get centered. Even if you’re a beginner at meditation and find it difficult to keep your mind from drifting in thoughts, just sitting quietly for 15 minutes and breathing can have great benefits. Just stay focused on your breath, and if thoughts keep coming up, become aware of them and bring your attention back to your breath.
For me, this is an emotional well-being exercise. Nothing makes you feel happier than counting your blessings, and there’s always something to be grateful for! Gratitude has an instant uplifting effect on our emotions. I take these 15 minutes to write in my “gratitude journal” either on paper or on my laptop. I think of several things that I’m particularly thankful for in that moment and write out the thought. For example, “I’m grateful for the place I live; my health; the food and clothes I can afford; my family and friends who support and love me.”
4. Visualization or positive affirmations
This part is your mental self-improvement exercise and is another great way to set positive intentions for the day. In this exercise you can do several things: visualize what you want to happen, write out your dreams and goals, or use positive affirmations that you repeat like a mantra. Some days, I take this time to set and review my weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. Other days I close my eyes and visualize my goal or dream coming true and feel the happiness of that outcome.
Affirmations are positive words or sentences that transform your thoughts to intentions. An example of an affirmation is “I know my strengths (list them) and I’m good at what I do. I’m not afraid of failure and I know I will succeed at (name what your goal is) because I believe in myself.”
Practice this routine every morning, and soon it’ll become so habitual that you won’t even have to remind yourself to do it. Make sure you get enough sleep because waking up refreshed and rested will help you keep up this wonderful morning ritual and inspire you to do more good things for yourself and others every day.