Personal story

Experiments with Morning Routines

Over the years I have tried many experiments with morning routines. I have tried meditation, early morning exercise, floor exercises, mindful stretches, writing down my most important tasks, listening to news bulletins, listening to podcasts, sleeping on the train, coffee, more coffee, bullet journals, sleep trackers, writing down my dreams, fasting, drinking lemon juice…. I won’t go on.

Through COVID times a morning routine shifted from being an indulgence or a productivity hack to being essential to living a decent life in locked down Melbourne. It kept body and soul together. It became an essential tool for good mental health

About eighteen months ago I struck on an enduring routine that worked for me. It put me in a different head space. It calmed me. It framed my day in the way I wanted. That routine was kind of simple.

  1. I would go outside and do a salute to the sun stretch.
  2. I would sit in comfortable, well-lighted place with a notebook and pen.
  3. I would read one poem, generally chosen randomly from the collections on my shelves.
  4. I would read one page of J.M. Roberts, History of the World, chosen at random.
  5. I would note one historical event that happened on this day that registered with me.
  6. I would let my mind wander with these readings, and get on with my day.

For me this routine was curative. For decades I have been a news junkie, and filled my morning with listening to news radio, reading newspapers, checking internet news sites and listening to podcasts. But the world of politics has caused so much disappointment and distress for me, and left me with so little enduring and valued. So this routine set me on a different and more nourishing course.

I maintained this routine pretty well until February this year. Then world events overtook me somewhat. I became quite obsessed, not without good cause, with the unfolding world crisis, and my routine fell away. Before I knew it I was listening to news podcasts all the time, and not reading any poetry.

So today I experimented with restoring my routine, but with a twist. So today the plan is after waking

  1. Read one poem, randomly chosen
  2. Read one page of J.M. Roberts, History of the World, chosen at random.
  3. Make fleeting notes for my Zettelkasten of ideas and associations prompted by these readings
  4. Do some stretches
  5. Get on with my day.

I hope with this routine to enjoy better mental health and a mind like water, and it gives you some inspiration too.

Image Source: The Reclining Buddha at Dambulla Cave Temples in Srilanka, Wikimedia Commons

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