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Courtesy of Jessica Schatz

How To Create A Conscious Morning Ritual

7 Min Read
Health

The morning is a powerful time of day. It is during the first moments of waking that your mind is shifting from the subconscious stages of sleep into the more conscious state of reality. During this transition, your mind and heart are open, alive, and just waiting to soak up the energy of a new day.

Starting the morning with self-care, love, and acceptance can help shift our mental dialogue and allow space for us to truly flourish in our daily life.

The morning is also a time when your intuition is more readily accessible and your creativity, problem-solving skills, and motivation are at their highest. This is why it is commonly believed that how you spend the first 30 minutes after waking will determine the energy with which you move through the rest of the day.

So what if you could shift a couple things around in your schedule to reclaim some of this sacred space in order to set your mind into a positive state the minute you woke up? What if there were little rituals you could practice that would change your whole outlook of the day so that you could think more clearly and be more productive? Well, a simple morning routine may be just what you need to set the stage to make your whole day more successful.

Make sure to choose the practices that fit your personality and your life, that make you feel good and uplifted, and that you will look forward to doing on a regular basis.

When you start the day with a conscious and powerful ritual, it can help you to:

  • Feel more positive
  • Manage your energy
  • Tune into your intuition
  • Be more productive
  • Feel more aligned with your purpose
  • Feel motivated and inspired to get things done
  • Be more patient and compassionate to yourself and others

There are no steadfast rules when it comes to creating the perfect morning ritual. However, it is a form of self-care — so make sure to choose the practices that fit your personality and your life, that make you feel good and uplifted, and that you will look forward to doing on a regular basis. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude and appreciation is a perfect way to start your day, as it is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those things, small or big, that grace your everyday life.

To achieve this, try reflecting for a moment on the things in your life for which you are most grateful, whatever they may be: family, friends, your comfy bed, a roof above your head, the ability to stand, to breathe, or to move your arms above your head. Or perhaps you feel gratitude for the day ahead and all of the amazing opportunities it holds for you. Whatever it is, be clear and specific. Let that sense of gratitude begin moving into your physical experience, coming into the body, and spreading out through your limbs. Feel the shift in your energy and in your body.

Meditation Or Mindful Breathing

Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health. With science on our side, we have become more aware than ever of the many benefits of meditation — or mindfulness. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduces stress
  • Controls anxiety
  • Promotes emotional health
  • Enhances self-awareness
  • Lengthens attention span
  • Improves sleep
  • Helps control pain
  • Can reduce blood pressure
  • Can help generate kindness

Practicing meditation, or any form of conscious breathing, will help you relax and restore your energy before you're off to the races. I suggest about ten minutes. But even just a few minutes will help you improve your mental and emotional state.

If you're new to meditation, simply start with three deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Sit tall and gentle either on the floor, a cushion, or a chair. On the inhale, visualize fresh, new oxygen filling you up. On the exhale, visualize the releasing and letting go of all things that no longer serve you. Or simply breathe and repeat the mantra, "I am healthy, well, and vibrant."

Even just a few minutes will help you improve your mental and emotional state.

Meditation courses and apps are widely available and there is a great variety of styles from which to choose, each with different strengths and benefits. Trying out a style of meditation suited to your goals is a great way to improve your quality of life, even if you only have a few minutes to do it each day.

But most of all, be gentle with yourself and try not to judge your experience. Like everything else, mediation is a "practice."

Exercise

Exercise is a great way to get your energy moving and flowing for the day ahead. An early morning workout offers enormous benefits to both your health and your daily schedule. In fact, engaging in morning workouts is often touted as your all-natural cup of coffee — waking your body and preparing your mind.

Movement, in general, is a wonderful source of both physical and mental energy, something many of us need when we start our day. But beyond that, morning exercise has been shown to improve focus and mental abilities all day long. Not only will you feel awake and have more energy after your workout, but your mind will be ready to take on whatever tasks you have in front of you.

Of course, there are many mental health benefits of exercise, and working out first thing helps you experience those benefits right away! Exercise leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters that promote mental clarity and improve attention spans.

Working out in the morning not only improves the length of sleep you will enjoy but also the quality of your sleep by promoting deeper sleep cycles.

Breaking an early morning sweat will also reward you with a rush of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine — feel-good chemicals that will boost your mood and help eliminate stress. Plus, you're guaranteed to feel happier knowing that you started your day doing something amazing for yourself and your health.

A morning exercise routine will even help you get better sleep. Evening exercise can actually have the opposite effect: it can boost the body's temperature and stimulate the body, which can make falling asleep more difficult. Working out in the morning not only improves the length of sleep you will enjoy but also the quality of your sleep by promoting deeper sleep cycles.

If getting up for a morning jog, a HITT routine, or weights is not your style, try yoga, Pilates mat, or even some light stretches. All of these things can be found on my website — there is literally something for everyone! Plus you'll feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as rejuvenation and recharge.

Nourishment

Breakfast is recognized as the most important meal of the day, because it energizes your body, helps improve your concentration and productivity, and boosts your metabolism, keeping your blood sugar levels stable throughout your entire day. Eating breakfast is also associated with a lower incidence of heart disease and diabetes.

Research shows that breakfast-eaters have increased energy levels, higher consumption of important vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients, and are more likely to be within their ideal weight range compared to breakfast-skippers. Studies also show that eating breakfast reduces the risk of cravings and overeating later in the day.

But probably the most appealing benefit is that it jump-starts your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day.

I suggest eating within two hours of waking to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to provide you with essential nutrients to kick-start your body, mind, and spirit.

So what are the best breakfasts to reap all of these benefits? A healthy breakfast should be balanced and provide a mix of protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you satiated and fueled up for your day. Here are some of my favorites.

Studies have also shown that eating breakfast can improve memory and concentration levels and lower stress levels, improving our mood and making us happier! So the next time you start to rush out the door in the morning without something to eat, consider that without breakfast you are essentially running on empty, like trying to start a car with no gas. On the other hand, a healthy morning meal can give you energy, satisfy your appetite, and set the stage for healthy eating habits all day long.

In Summary

A morning ritual is an investment in yourself and a commitment to improvement. If you don't take some time in the morning, you may find you've put your personal well-being on the back burner for the whole day. But starting the morning with self-care, love, and acceptance can help shift our mental dialogue and allow space for us to truly flourish in our daily life.

By using the morning to be fully present, compassionate, and alive in your body, mind, and spirit, you can consciously form positive habits that will significantly transform and empower your life.

This article was originally published March 23, 2020.

3 Min Read
Business

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.