Vegan, zero waste chef and Eco-Age contributor Max La Manna shares his daily morning routine that helps to kick-start his day in the best possible way.
When was the last time you woke up before 6 AM, not because you had to, but because you wanted to? A mindful morning routine sets the foundation of my day. As a firm believer of routines there is one I love repeating day after day and that is my mindful morning rituals. I’m not asking you join a monastery, become a monk, live in a cave and start meditating at 3:30 in the morning – you could if you want? What I will ask you though is to start looking at your mornings as a time, or a few moments of creating a space solely for you. A space to cultivate peace, stillness, calm and just do what you want to do uninterrupted with no phones. “This is me time.”
You don’t need much, you can practically start right now – or tomorrow morning after you read this article. The best thing about all of this is that you can start – wherever you are, whatever you are doing – and see what works for you and what doesn’t. I’ve been practicing my mindful morning rituals now for 2 years and I’ve kept some of my rituals intact and some I have let go. You just do what’s best for you and make slight changes along the way.
It’s a non-negotiable for me. My morning routine is like going to work. If I go to work and do my job, I get paid. My morning routine pays me in other ways that currency can’t. I look forward to the start of my days now.
It begins before you go to bed…
To start your morning routine off right, it all begins the night before. For me, I turn my phone off at least 1-2 hours before falling asleep. If you need your phone to wake you up, I highly suggest investing in a Lumie. The soft light mimics the rise of the sun and wakes you up gently. No blaring and body shocking noise of your smartphone, plus what’s going on with all that frequency from your phone if it’s next to your bedside? We still don’t know yet the impact that it has on your health and well-being.
Rise and shine…
To start my day, I rise just before 6 AM, sometimes earlier, yet on the weekends I lie in for a few extra minutes because “why not?”. I’ve noticed that setting a routine in the time I go to bed the night before and waking up at the same time helps me to fall asleep easier and I tend to have a more restful nights.
What are you grateful for?
After taking few deep breaths to wake my body from slumber, I mentally (or share with my partner) say a few things I am grateful for. Practicing gratitude in the morning has put me in a better emotional and mental state for the rest of the day. I will revisit my list of gratefulness throughout the day too. It can be as simple as stating “I am grateful to be breathing”. Keep it simple.
Now, this has been a ritual of mine for the past 3½ years now. Remember when I said “start meditating at 3:30 in the morning”, well this is something else I experimented with and would take cold showers at this ridiculous hour in the earlier mornings when I was living in LA, but that’s a whole other story to share with you another time.
Taking a cold shower in the morning is in one word…Brave. After all this time, I’m still amazed as to why I put myself through this cold water therapy in the morning. I’ve always been a sucker for alternative healing practices, and this one for sure has been the toughest on me mentally. Always wanting to talk myself out of it, yet I always wake up every morning and go through the process. Yes, I’ve noticed changes in my health – I am not a doctor – but I rarely ever get sick now and I pay respect to my cold showers in the morning.
Hot water, finally…
After taking a cold shower, I get dressed and put on some comfortable clothes and prepare myself for my meditation. Just before sitting down, I turn the kettle on and pour myself a cup of hot water – drinking when it is safe to do so. For the past few years, I’ve experimented with hot water and lemon, but feel much more relaxed and find it easier on my digestion when I keep it simple. This hot water activates my digestion and prepares for the day ahead. I totally recommend this tip, if it’s the only thing you take away from reading this article. Drink more water, drink more hot water.
Meditation and I go way back. My mother introduced me to meditation over 16 years ago. I didn’t do it as regularly as I do now then, but even in my early teens I benefited from the process. Today, I’ve been practicing meditation daily for the past 5 years. Early on sometimes I would even meditate for 2 minutes then increase my time to 5 minutes and gradually reaching 20 minutes. There have been a few instances where I’ve sat down, got comfortable and meditated for 2½ hours. This again is a whole other story to share with you another time.
I’m not a trained meditation teacher, but if you can make this a daily practice to your morning routine, this sets you up for the rest of the day. Hopefully bringing you a bit more calm and stillness in your life. Just sit and be still. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Be mindful of your inhale and exhale. Listen to your surroundings. Your mind will float to other ideas or play stories in your mind – just remember to come back to your breath. Shall we do this right now for 60 seconds? Stop what you are doing (if it’s safe to do so), close your eyes and breathe.
How was that? Now, that you’ve started your day with a few mindful rituals, you can now conquer the day. I hope you enjoyed and can start practicing on a daily basis, perhaps even having your partner join you through this process too.
Read our interview with Max about his journey to a more sustainable lifestyle.
For more morning routines, read Venetia Falconer’s rituals here.