Morning Routines

Zuni Sunrise Song

Face the rising sun as you chant, arms raised in greeting.

A he! Arise! Arise!
Rise! Arise! Arise!
Ah eh Wake Up!
Life is calling you.
Ah eh Wake up!
Life is greeting you.
Father sun God, he is calling you.
Father sun God, he is greeting you.

Ah eh ta ho t hey
Eh ta ho ta hey.
Ah ah eh ta ho
A ya he ta ne
Ah ah e ta ho
A ya he ta ne.
A ya a wey
O wey to na wey
A ya a wey
O wey to na wey.

From: Circle of Song

Sun Salutations

This 5 Minute Morning Exercise Will Revitalize Your Life.

Making exercise a priority in the morning can be challenging. I think most people would agree that exercising in the morning is a good thing, but the reality is time always seems to get in the way. There are many benefits that come from a morning exercise routine such as; increased blood flow, more energy and fewer aches and pains.

So what’s the solution to realize these benefits and many more? It’s a yoga sequence call Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara). The Sun Salutation is a 5-minute morning exercise that will revitalize your life and send you off to tackle your day with a sense of calm and purpose.

The Sun Salutation is a sequence of postures, each with its meaning and function. It is a daily practice intended for dawn and/or sunset and done in the direction of the sun. It’s nice if you can practice Sun Salutation outside in nature as a way of honoring the sun and sharing your gratitude for its energy, but it isn’t a requirement.

The Benefits:

A regular and faithful practice of the Sun Salutation in the mornings can benefit you in the following ways:

  • Strengthens the entire digestive system.
  • Invigorates and restores the nervous system.
  • Energizes the heart and regulates blood pressure and heart palpitations.
  • Promotes healthy lungs and breath.
  • Stimulates glandular activity.
  • Strengthens the muscles in your upper and lower body including your abdomen and back.
  • Reduces excess fat on the body.
  • Improves kidney function.
  • Encourages proper posture.
  • Brings clarity to your mind.

Basically, a morning ritual that includes the Sun Salutation will benefit all your vital organs, muscles, your mind and it will provide shape and muscle to your body in a healthy, natural way.

Doing The Sun Salutation

The good thing about the Sun Salutation is it is perfect for all levels. The series is made up of eight beginning yoga poses that take you through twelve stations. It can take you anywhere from 5 minutes to longer, depending on how many sequences you choose to do.

The Sun Salutation can be performed at various speeds. A slow rhythmic practice is recommended as it has greater effect on the mind. The Sun Salutation helps to attain a meditative mood when performed slowly, with attention on the breath and chanting the specific mantra. When performed with speed, it has more effect on the body, energizing it and burning extra calories.

No matter what the speed is, it is important to pay attention to the breathing.

  • Contraindications and Cautions

The Sun Salutation should not be practiced by those suffering from high blood pressure, coronary diseases and strokes. Also those with hernia should avoid this. Women should generally not practice it during pregnancy. People with spondylitis and sciatica should consult a doctor before practicing the Sun Salutation.

Each Sun Salutation round consists of two sets, and the 12 yoga poses complete one set of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar). In order to complete the second half of one round, repeat the same sequence of postures, only moving the left leg instead of the right (steps 4 and 9). Sun Salutations, as the name suggests, are best done early morning on an empty stomach.

But Wait… There’s More:

Some of you might remember that Sun Salutations were shared here as part of our Well Begun project. That post is a lot longer than this one and covers the Sun Salutations in depth and in detail. If you are interested, you will find it here: Good Morning To The Sun. It even has Sun Salutations that can be done while sitting in a chair!

Daily Devotion To The Sun

Stand with your feet apart and your arms raised even with your shoulders to form a star. With the left palm up and the right palm down, breathe in the grounding energy of the Earth and exhale any scattered energy through your mouth. Continue to breathe in this fashion until you’re totally relaxed.

Then call on the Sun, saying something like:

Father Sun, Who turns the night
Into the day with golden light
I give thanks for all You bring:
Warmth, strength, hope, and other things
Like laughter, joy, and true affection
And for holding me in Your protection
I thank You for my life this day
Please bless me with Your golden rays
And with Your wisdom, warm and bright
Please open me unto Your light
Into my body let it swell
Infusing each and every cell
To energize ’til the day is done
This I ask You, Father Sun

Repeat the invocation twice more, and stay in the position until you feel the energy begin to swirl through your body.

Found at: Meditation

Sun Meditation

At sunrise, sit facing the sun. Meditate on light, on the dawning of a new day. Ask yourself what it is you wish to bring into your life. Thank the sun for illuminating your path.

At sunset, watch the sun as it disappears over the horizon. Reflect on your day and the coming darkness.

  • What shadow aspects of your being do you need to confront?
  • What do you want to release, or complete in your life?
  • What do you need to work on in your night dreams?

Give thanks and make an offering to Father Sun; receive his blessings and gifts.

From: Circle of Song

Shri Ganesha Upanishad

Aum! Let us listen with our ears to that which is auspicious, adorable one. Let us perceive with our eyes what is holy and auspicious. With strong, stable body and limbs, may we seek the divine grace and accept the noble order of all our life.

I surrender to you, Lord Ganesha. You are the speaker. You are the listener. You are the giver. You are the sustainer. I am your disciple. Protect me from the front and back. Protect me from the north and the south, from above and below. Protect me from all directions.

You are full of perfect knowledge of truth and awareness. You are full of bliss and pure consciousness. You are truth, consciousness and bliss. You are the absolute awareness. You are full of supreme wisdom and knowledge.

You are the earth, water, fire, air and the space. You are the root foundation of speech. You are beyond the three gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas. You are beyond the physical, mental, and causal bodies. You are beyond the three aspects of time: past, present, and future. You are eternally established in the muladhara chakra. You have three shaktis: action, knowledge, and will.

Salutation to the Ganapati whose seed mantra is Aum Gam. We know Ekadanta, the One-tusked God, the unique God. We meditate upon Vakratunda, the curved-trunk God. May that unique elephant God illumine our consciousness and direct us along the right track.

One should meditate upon Lord Ganesha having one tusk and four arms; holding the noose and goad with two of them; with the other two indicating varada, the giving of boons and blessings, and abhaya mudra, the fear removing gesture; having a mouse as the emblem on his ensign; possessing a big, beautiful belly and large, lovely ears which look like winnowing baskets; having a red cloth and His whole body covered with red sandalwood paste. He should be worshiped with red flowers. He manifests Himself as the universe and is beyond pakriti, matter, and Parusha, the manifest God. One who worships Ganesha in this way forever is the best of yogis.

Prostrations to Vratapati, the Lord of Plenty. Prostrations to Ganapati, the Lord of various groups of Gods. Prostrations to Pramathapati, the Lord of Shiva’s hosts. Prostrations to Lambodara, the full-bellied God with a single tusk, destroyer of obstacles, the Son of Shiva, the Bestower of all Blessings.

He who chants this Ganapati Upanishad will verily get established in Brahman, the pure awareness. He will never encounter any obstacles. He will be happy everywhere. He will be free from the five great sins and lesser ones. By reciting this in the evening, the day’s sins are destroyed.

By reciting this in the early morning, one becomes free from the sins committed at night in dreams. Reciting this morning and evening, one becomes totally free from all sins. He becomes totally free from all obstacles. He achieves the four divine ends of life: dharma, artha, kama, and moksha; virtue, wealth, pleasure, and liberation.

Aum Ganesha saranam saranam Ganesha.

Exerpted from Ganapatyatharsirsham
translation by Dr. Vasant Lad

Six Months Later

Melissa suggested that it would be a good idea, when we complete a project, to check how things are going six months later. So this is a check back on results from the Well Begun project we kicked off in November of last year. If you want to refresh yourself as to what we did, how we felt about it, and etc, you can visit this link: Well Begun.

Here are a few questions to stimulate some conversation:

  • Did you create a morning routine?
  • Is it still working for you?
  • If so, why?
  • If not, why not?
  • When you think back, do you feel that your life has changed in any way as a direct result of that particular project?
  • What are your thoughts and feelings about it now?
  • Any interesting experiences you’d like to share?

Well Begun – How Did We Do?

Our Well Begun project has come to a close, and I’m just wondering how we did. This is an opportunity to share any results, ideas, expectations, disappointments, achievements, or anything else that came about as a result of working on this project.

My own personal results were as follows:

Despite being down with a massive sinus infection for at least half of the project, I have managed to come out from under with some great ideas, and a couple of strategies that have been working really well for me. My mornings are way more organized, and my attitude has improved quite a bit.

The way it unfolded was really interesting. I gave myself permission to play the Sims and goof off, but it took my game so long to load that I ended up doing household chores while I was waiting… which felt really good because it took all the guilt  out of playing the game, and my house got clean in the process. I also invoked Ganesh for a variety of problems, and that’s been awesomely successful. This boost of positive results has given me more energy and so now I have begun to very slowly implement a few more parts of my overall plan to get my shit together.

And now it’s your turn.
  • Did you try any of the ideas shared in this project?
  • Was there anything you really enjoyed?
  • Has your morning routine changed in any way as a result of this project?
  • What aspects of your personal morning routine work really well for you?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to share? experiences? insights? ideas?

My New Morning Routine

So, today, I thought it might be a good idea to make a list of what I would like to include in my own morning routine, to try and figure out what is most important to me and my lifestyle.

I find that I am most attracted to morning routines that sound fun, or exotic, or creative, or so simple and practical that there’s no excuse not to do it. If I could find a morning routine that was also flexible and effectively made each day better for me, I might actually be inclined to do it.

Also, it’s important to give yourself time in the mornings to begin the day. I love the Barack Obama idea of getting up two hours before the “event.” This might work for me.

So….  Here’s what I am thinking about integrating into my mornings:

  • Make the bed.
  • Drink a cup of hot water with lemon.
  • Stretch like a cat before getting out of bed.
  • Ganesh mantra when I begin to feel stressed.
  • Say “hello” to the sun – outside.
  • Music every morning.
  • Art every day.

For any routine to work, we first have to actually follow it over and over again until it becomes a habit. In order to do something over and over again (at least for me), it has to give good results, be flexible enough to allow for life’s little dramas, and have something about it that makes me interested and excited.

I especially like the “tiny habits” idea, and am working on how to integrate my morning routine ideas into a tiny habits that are simple and easy to remember.

What about you? What would you like to integrate into a morning routine? Are there any tiny habits that you will be working on? I’d love to hear your ideas and insights!

How Long it Takes to Build a New Habit

My goal for this project was to create a good morning routine, and then to make that routine a daily habit. So far, I’ve found lots of good ideas, and now I’m just wondering how long it will take before my morning routine becomes an habitual behavior.

My research lead me to this article by James Clear:

Phillippa Lally is a health psychology researcher at University College London. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, Lally and her research team decided to figure out just how long it actually takes to form a habit.

The study examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person chose one new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.

Some people chose simple habits like “drinking a bottle of water with lunch.” Others chose more difficult tasks like “running for 15 minutes before dinner.” At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers analyzed the data to determine how long it took each person to go from starting a new behavior to automatically doing it.

  • The answer?

On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.

In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.

  • Finding Inspiration in the Long Road

Before you let this dishearten you, let’s talk about three reasons why this research is actually inspiring.

First, there is no reason to get down on yourself if you try something for a few weeks and it doesn’t become a habit. It’s supposed to take longer than that! There is no need to judge yourself if you can’t master a behavior in 21 short days. Learn to love your 10 Years of Silence. Embrace the long, slow walk to greatness and focus on putting in your reps.

Second, you don’t have to be perfect. Making a mistake once or twice has no measurable impact on your long-term habits. This is why you should treat failure like a scientist, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and develop strategies for getting back on track quickly.

And third, embracing longer timelines can help us realize that habits are a process and not an event. All of the “21 Days” hype can make it really easy to think, “Oh, I’ll just do this and it’ll be done.” But habits never work that way. You have to embrace the process. You have to commit to the system.

Understanding this from the beginning makes it easier to manage your expectations and commit to making small, incremental improvements — rather than pressuring yourself into thinking that you have to do it all at once.

  • Where to Go From Here

At the end of the day, how long it takes to form a particular habit doesn’t really matter that much. Whether it takes 50 days or 500 days, you have to put in the work either way.

The only way to get to Day 500 is to start with Day 1. So forget about the number and focus on doing the work.

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