June 20, 2017

Elephant’s Essentials for a Mindful Morning Practice.

This post is written by a real elephant editor (hello!) and is sponsored by our mindful partners. To be transparent, some of the links below are paid for, but all recommendations are thoughtfully researched, tested, and elephant-approved. We’re honored to work with anyone who is dedicated to conscious consumerism, the mindful life, and improving our environmental impact. ~Ed

Nothing like a rough morning to set the whole day off on the wrong foot.

Mine usually looks like my iPhone wedged somewhere between the wall and a pillow, and consequently, me waking up 20 minutes late in a stressed-out, mindless flurry. I run around the house throwing my hair up in a messy bun, my laptop in my purse, and all my hopes for a productive day out the window. Sound familiar?

The good news is, there’s a pretty direct way to intercept this unfortunate, yet all-too-common scenario: the mindful morning practice.

The intention of a mindful morning practice is to take advantage of the fresh opportunity of a new day—setting ourselves up to navigate life’s unpredictable happenings with more clarity and grace. With this dedication, we invoke a sense of ritual in our routine.

The ideal components are as unique as the individual creating them, but I’ve narrowed down my top 10 essentials for creating a mindful morning practice that, without fail, sends us out the door feeling rested, present, and ready for the day.

Top 10 elephant-approved morning practice essentials:

1. Stay technology free.

Any smartphone user will recognize the following scene: Our alarm (or three, or four) sounds, our eyes pop open, and we reach for the phone producing it. We swipe it off, and immediately check our messages, and then our emails, and then Instagram. In the 30 seconds we’ve been awake, mindfulness doesn’t stand a chance. The easiest fix is to bite the bullet, switch to an analog alarm clock, and commit to being technology-free for the start of the day. It’s shocking how irrelevant the “I don’t have time” argument becomes after this shift.

2. Wake-up slowly.

With all that free time we got back being phone-free, we now can indulge ourselves in a delicious, mindful wake-up. Before we even open our eyes, we tune into our body laying in bed. We appreciate the softness of the sheets against our skin and nestle our head into our pillow. When we do open our eyes, we gently gaze around the room, filling it with our presence. This is the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves of our good fortune for the opportunities we’ve had. We’re inspired to take full advantage of the day ahead.


3. Fill up on H2O.

N-Gen water bottle by Nalgene {partner}

Our bodies get dehydrated overnight—it happens after six plus hours without refueling. The first thing to do when we get out of bed is pour a big glass of water and drink the whole thing. Research suggests drinking at least 16 oz in the morning offers benefits like a kickstart for our metabolism, improved digestion, and appetite control. I take this opportunity to pop my daily vitamins and fill up my Nalgene bottles (BPA free!) to keep up with my daily quota; I challenge myself to drink one of their 48 oz bottles before leaving the house, and at least two refills of their N-Gen bottles (a perfect fit for my bike carrier) throughout the day.

{ Shop Nalgene Now }


4. Stretch—yoga or otherwise.

I wasn’t always on the yoga bandwagon, but the hype is real. Beyond the millennia of teachings about yoga’s impact on physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, we now have mounds of scientific evidence to back it up. Making time for even a short morning sequence is critical for a true mindful morning practice. I now am excited to roll out my mat and lay over a block for a good heart-opening flow. Some like to freestyle, but as a newer student, streaming yoga online has been a game-changer for making a daily practice accessible.


5. Meditate & dedicate.

Happiness Program Starter Kit by Art of Living {partner}

There are so many styles of meditation to choose from, but personally, I like to keep it simple in the morning. I light a candle on my altar, sit on my cushion, and practice a basic Buddhist style of breath awareness. Bring attention to the out-breath and how the body cycles back to it. When our attention strays, we just note whatever comes to mind as “thinking” and bring the attention back to the breath. Repeat until the bell of a pre-set timer (I use this app) announces the session has closed. I do this for 15 minutes every morning. It’s the single greatest investment I’ve ever made. Afterward, it’s nice to take a moment to dedicate our session and day to the benefit of all living things.

For those new to meditation or looking to refresh their practice, Art of Living‘s free Happiness Program Starter Kit is a wonderful tool. It offers the option of a quick two minute breath practice or a 15-minute guided meditation, and you can even chat with one of their staff experts on the phone to answer personal questions that arise during the practice.

{ Sign-Up for Art of Living Now }


6. Mind your skincare.

Count to Zen cream moisturizer by Yuni Beauty {partner}

After centering with meditation, we’re well set up to mindfully approach our hygiene routines. We brush our teeth, do our hair—we all have our manners of self-care. I like to pay special attention to my face. I wash off the night’s sleep with a paraben-free face wash and swipe on an organic SPF 15+ moisturizer to protect from the sun. Following my yoga practice, Yuni Beauty has become invaluable. Their Count to Zen cream moisturizer is restorative but non-greasy (perfect after a sweat-sesh), but the real life-saver is the Muscle Recovery Gel so I don’t carry sore spots into the day.

{ Shop Yuni Beauty Now }


7. Brew a pot of tea.

Organic loose-leaf tea by Harney & Sons {partner}

This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for (well, for foodies like me, at least). Making a pot ‘o tea! Put a kettle on, then relax and take a quiet moment while the water heats and the tea steeps. When sipping from our mugs, we can fully appreciate the flavors and sensations on our tongues while looking out the window or around the room.

Finding a brand to stand by is an essential step for our mindful morning beverage. Harney & Sons offers a delicious organic line of loose-leaf tea ranging from a rich Assam to a perky Citrus Green. It’s inspiring to see main-players like these guys adopting responsible practices, and their classy tin packaging is consistently counter-worthy.

{ Shop Harney & Sons Now }


8. Cook and enjoy a healthy breakfast.

31 million Americans skip breakfast every day, and I’m totally guilty of it myself. Actually cooking a nutritious meal in the morning has become something I cherish, and I’ve found when I make the time, I always choose healthier options than when rushing out of the house. Whether it’s a smoothie bowl or a vegan scramble, take the time to sit down, plate up, and savor the food fully.


9. Organize and prioritize.

Now that we’re well-fed and have a clear mind, we’re in the ideal state to get organized and set priorities for the day ahead. I keep all my to-do lists and daily schedules written down in a physical planner. Experts say that writing by hand improves our memory, so this quick daily check-in is an integral aspect of a mindful morning. I have been using Passion Planner for three years now. They offer a super-effective exercise for breaking down dreams into bite-sized (and realistically attainable) personal due dates. Getting these goals down on paper helps me focus more on the present moment throughout the day.

10. Get out the door (ideally not in a car.)

A mindful morning is just one aspect of living the mindful life. This means being conscious of how our choices have a larger impact on the world around us. The fact is, cars are one of the worst contributing factors to pollution, global warming, and the unsavory politics around oil production. Most major cities have solid public transit options and bike trails, there are carpool programs, and car share services, like Zipcar. The perks? More time outdoors, more activity for our bodies, and the good conscience of knowing we’re doing our part for the environment.

Adopting a mindful morning practice has dramatically changed how I face the natural challenges of life. Whatever supports us in bringing our best selves out into the world ultimately benefits every other person we come in contact with. This is one domino effect we definitely want to be a part of—and it starts when we open our eyes.

In the vision of Enlightened Society,

Danielle + team elephant journal

Author/Editor: Danielle Beutell
Image: Top: Camila Damasio/Unsplash Others: Author’s Own
Supervising Editor 1: Taia Butler

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