I’ve been working on establishing a meditation practice but I think it’s a little too soon to declare this endeavor a success or failure. Further practice is definitely needed. Despite floundering with meditation, I have cobbled together a morning routine that kicks my day off in a way that feels both calming and healthy. No matter what the day brings, this routine assures that I’ve had a a least a few hours that soothe my whirring brain.
Coffee first. The promise of a good hit of caffeine takes the sting out of that 4:30 am alarm.
Cold-brewed, black, and iced. Yum.
After 10 minutes of stretching (especially good for my still-healing shoulder), I fill up a couple of pages in my journal.
Then it’s time for a 2.5 mile walk which takes about 45 minutes. Right now I’m walking in the dark. It’s interesting to notice how much more attuned I am to sounds (a train whistle, the rustle of squirrels in the leaves) and smells (the strong scent of pine from a towering tree felled in a recent wind storm) than I am when I’m walking in daylight.
After a long, hot shower (that’s where I do my best thinking), it’s time for breakfast. I completely fell for the packaging of this hot cereal. A peaceful morning for a mere $6.99? That’s an offer I couldn’t refuse. Topped with a little oat milk and coconut sugar, it’s delicious, even if the peaceful morning it promises doesn’t always pan out.
Lately I’ve been working to break myself of the unhealthy habit of doom-scrolling through the news while I eat my breakfast and have turned to solving cryptoquip puzzles instead. Each puzzle provides you with a letter-substitution clue, then it’s your job to decipher the rest.
These decoding puzzles give my active mind something to chew on rather than worrying about what the day may bring, or mindlessly absorbing a host of negative headlines that wear me out before I’ve even finished my breakfast.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve learned a handful of lessons from these simple puzzles—lessons as applicable to life as they are to solving a word puzzle.
Take a guess! Dive right in!
Look for patterns. Use your past experience.
Don’t be afraid to start over.
Resist the urge to cheat.
Finding the right answer is very satisfying.
When you’re grinding on a problem, walk away. The solution may very well appear after you come back to it with fresh eyes. (This happens soooo often.)
Something as basic as pencil on paper both activates and calms my mind so that I head out the door feeling ready for the day, not prematurely dragged down by it.
I used to stay in bed until the last minute, drink coffee loaded with cream and sugar, devour the news and Lucky Charms for breakfast, but none of that served my mind or body well.
I look forward to this well-honed morning routine as much as I look forward to crawling into a warm bed with a good book every night.
Simple practices. Simple food.
That’s my recipe for a calm morning. What’s yours?