Early Morning Rituals to Set Your Daily Rhythm
My favorite early morning ritual has been to wake up and take an upright seat on my couch with legs crossed beneath me, close my eyes (or stare at the flickering tree branches back-lit out the dark window) and breathe all the way down into my kidneys.
Your kidneys are located at the back of your body tucked (mostly) beneath your low ribs. Another way to find them is to grab onto the natural curve of your waist (where your waist turns inwards) then dart your thumbs up. You are now approximately in the region of your kidney space.
In Chiense Medicine, the kidneys are associated with wintertime, and please don't worry--we aren't quite in winter yet, but I've been gaining great benefits in terms of clarity and calm and general feelings of stability and peacefulness by breathing into my kidney space.
Autumn is the time associated with the lung, and some of us are not great breathers. This may be because of trauma, a pattern of breathing mostly through the mouth rather than the nose, a tendency to hold the breath, a tendency towards anxiety or fear or panic, or simply because we aren't used to paying attention to the automatic response of the breath so we don't really know how our breath is.
If you are a "chest breather" or tend to breathe more shallowly, almost like a pant, breathing down into your lower back can feel amazingly strange at first but then SO soothing and settling. For me, it creates a deep well of calm.
Take a comfortable seat with an upright spine. You don't want your hips higher than your knees. You want to maintain your low back curve (you don't want your lower back rolling or your pelvis/tailbone tucking back behind you). Close your eyes.
Bring one hand to your lower belly and one hand to your heart. Or bring the back of your hand to your lower back and the other hand to your heart. Try out both and see what works for you.
Bring your awareness to your breath and without judgment just notice how you are breathing. Even if you are already breathing deeply, you can still benefit from bringing your awareness to the breath.
Now begin breathing (in and out through your nose) in a way that causes your low belly/back to inflate. On the exhale, notice your low belly falling back towards your spine, maybe even pulling slightly up to let the breath out. Keep breathing in this way. Make the breath audible. Fill your ears with the sound of your deep, slow, steady breath.
I find this way of breathing addictive. Once I start I generally keep going for longer than I intend to. Taking even four minutes in the morning to fill yourself up, to allow yourself to empty, can be so powerful for setting a steady rhythm for your day.
I generally follow this practice up with warm water (warm because it's so soothing) as autumn is the driest time of the year.
What do you do in the mornings to set your day off right?