Updated: Jan 18
A well-established morning regiment serves to optimize mental, emotional, and physiological functioning. Most, if not all, highly successful individuals implement specific protocols throughout their private morning hours.
A structured morning routine, replete with nourishing rituals, is the cornerstone of a productive day. Productive days make for fulfilling years. Fulfilling years combine and coalesce into a life well lived.
Intentionally engaging with ourselves in the twilight hours before stepping out into the demands of the world tethers us to an imperturbable wellspring deep within. As we contact this deep inner space each morning, we learn to skillfully respond to life situations from the wisdom of this depth.
Highly functioning people, from monastics to CEO’s, create a refuge for themselves in the sweet monotony of their morning routine – a replenishing time where there are no decisions to be made, no social pleasantries to be exchanged, no choices to be had – only the potent medicine of singular focus on the completion of the regiment.
The early morning is sacred and fertile soil, if you consistently plant there the seeds of discipline, your regiment will yield the crops of vitality and harmony. As your discipline in practice yields more and more vitality, you channel that increased energy back into your regiment. As years pass you grow your regiment, and, more importantly, your regiment grows you.
Developing a morning routine takes time and energy. It’s not easy to establish good habits. But, as with all things, it is possible through consistent effort.
In your attempts to maintain an unshakeable daily routine you’ll inevitably fail; you’ll hit the snooze button, you’ll skip days. Those things will happen.
Allow for your failures. Be easy on yourself – but not too easy. Be firm with yourself – but not too firm. Just keep showing up.
Strive continually to be diligent, knowing that every time you complete your routine you are making a deposit in your savings account of discipline and self-control. Those deposits accrue interest. In time, they mature into an effortless quality of harmony. A “just happening-ness” arises in your routine where formerly there was resistance.
There was probably a time in your early life where a caregiver basically had to force you against your will to brush your teeth. Little kids would rather not! But, with the help of some external prodding, you stayed consistent through time and in so doing you matured in both your view and behavior.
Likely, you stopped entertaining the notion of not brushing your teeth a long time ago – you noticed that your mouth feels better when you brush, so now you just do it. The thought of not brushing your teeth no longer even arises. There is no longer any heroic discipline or external prodding required to get you to reach for your toothbrush, it just happens. In time and with consistent effort, your inner approach to completing your regiment will mature and mirror your approach to brushing your teeth.
My routine, which I share here, has become quite long over the years - it fills several hours. But it certainly didn’t start this way! There was a time when 10 minutes of meditation was more than I could consistently commit to on a daily basis. Like any man, I have dealt with interpersonal problems and emotional fluctuations that have made consistent practice, or consistency toward anything, challenging. But I have found that the way to heal those problems is through developing a daily practice regiment that is challenging enough to catalyze growth while not being so demanding that it feels impossible to stick to.
The healing path requires daily effort. No matter your current struggles, you are capable of summoning some sliver of effort. Start where you are. Pick a small handful of practices from the list below and begin to architect your morning regiment around them.
Below I list and briefly explain the hallmarks of the morning regiment that has revealed itself to me over the years. Explanations are brief as each respective practice could easily be the subject of its own blog, or course for that matter.
If you’d like further clarity on a given practice bring any questions to my Tribe Men’s Community calls.
The morning regiment begins at the moment of awakening. “Attenuate” describes an intentional moment of inviting your attention away from the incessant chatter of mind and into your body. Having arrived there in feeling space, gather any pertinent information. Useful somatic inquiries upon the moment of awakening:
“Did I awaken on an in breath or an out breath?”
“Is there an emotional state present in this moment?”
“What was the emotional tone of my dream journey? Was any information given?”
Inviting the felt sense of your body into conscious awareness nurtures latent intuitive capacities. It is a very good idea to take a moment to “drop in” and attenuate to the feeling tone of your living body before reaching for the phone or even engaging with your partner.
Having allowed some time for felt receptivity, now it is time to intentionally cultivate a feeling state. “Potentiate” describes the practice of opening the door for the potential of positivity to emerge by evoking positive feeling states through intentional internal mental talk and conjuring pleasant internal mental images.
You can wait for the countless variables of your external life situation to align themselves in a way that allows you to feel good, or you can implement the internal PRACTICE of feeling good in this present moment! I find the latter much more efficient and I always orient toward practice.
In internal mental talk space, I hold the mantra, “Yes. Thank you. I love you. Keep Going.” I maintain the repetition of this phrase as a background practice to nurture positivity while I tend to items three through five on my list. I also find smiling and widening my eyes to increase wakefulness during this time; there are countless scientific studies on the effect of smiling on neurochemistry.
For a more detailed explanation on this meditative technique click here.
Drain the main vein!! Enough said.
“The solution to pollution is dilution.”
Sufficient hydration is crucial for robust health. It’s important to hydrate all day long but the early morning is a critical time to replenish hungry cells with H2O as the sleep state is a fasted state. Filling the body with water facilitates energy production, waste removal, satiety, mental clarity, and overall well-being. For a deep dive on the importance of hydration, check out Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by Dr. F. Batmanghelidji.
Quite simply, many people are just dehydrated. This carries dire health consequences which can be alleviated by drinking enough water. As a general rule - take your body weight in pounds, cut it in half, and aim to drink that many ounces of water every day starting first thing in the morning.
In addition to watering myself, I take this time to water my plants. I smile at them and thank them for making my home beautiful. Some mornings I give them a hug and a kiss and we laugh together.
I am open to the possibility that I’ve just become an absolute kook; but sharing love with my plants makes me feel pretty good and I’ve noticed it seems to make my plants stronger too. And, they love me back! Plants are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.
The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird is a great read on this topic.
I take a minimalist approach to dietary supplements and I recommend my clients do the same. One’s focus should be on the macronutrient content provided through an organic whole foods diet. If your diet is poor then you are supplementing a poor diet - it would be more efficient just to flush your money down the toilet.
Staples in my morning supplementation protocol are:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Each of these healing foods contains potent anti-fungal/bacterial properties that facilitate a healthy microbiome. I combine them all into a healing tonic and drink along with some probiotics.
You can access your free Fungal/Bacterial Detox Protocol and learn more about bringing your gut back in to balance here.
Metta is a Pali word that translates loosely as “loving kindness.” The intentional cultivation of Metta is a Theravada Buddhist meditation practice traditionally offered in five directions: for the beloved, for self, the neutral person, the enemy, and finally for all beings. This is done through the repetition of a simple phrase which, as the mind becomes highly concentrated upon, evokes the cooling mind-state of loving kindness. I cultivate the mind state of Metta for all beings while concentrating on the phrase, “May all beings be peaceful.”
A good read on the powerful practice of Metta meditation is Sharon Salzberg’s Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
While practicing Metta for all beings, I enjoy a bag of tobacco. Research shows moderate doses of nicotine enhance cognitive performance. To administer the beneficial effects of nicotine and mitigate against the harmful effects of carcinogens which result when incinerating tobacco, I use a large desktop vaporizer which heats up dry herbs without the use of a flame and releases active ingredients into an inhalable vapor which collect in a bag. My choice is Storz and Bickel’s Volcano Classic.
I smoke an old school organic American tobacco and I’ll add some medicinal herbs like peppermint leaf, lavender, rose petals, mugwort, damiana, skullcap, or calamus. I find this relaxing smoking ritual combined with intentionally cultivating loving kindness calms the nervous system and concentrates the mind.
Establishing a soothing vibration in the home is a beautiful and important practice. If you’ve ever set foot in a cathedral, monastery, or holy site, you understand what I’m getting at here.
Sacred spaces are impeccably maintained not only with regard to physical cleanliness and orderliness, but energetically. There is something very different about the feeling tone of a monastery compared to that of an office building, even if both are clean and orderly.
Some places carry a specific vibrational feeling tone due to the years of the intentional cultivation of its inhabitants. Sensitive individuals can perceive this consciously, but everyone can perceive it unconsciously. You’d have to be pretty disconnected to stroll through a cathedral talking loudly on your phone and eating popcorn for example. At a subtle feeling level, it is just understood that kind of casual behavior isn’t appropriate. This felt understanding is the result of both the orderliness of the space and the vibration that has been cultivated within it.
I maintain my home physically by tidying up, putting things where things belong, making the bed, etc. A great resource for specific protocols around consecrating your living space through decluttering is Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
Energetically, I consecrate my space each morning through the recitation of specific prayers and the cultivation of internal feeling states. I give thanks for the gift of my home, my warm bed, my food, and the shelter my home provides. I feel gratitude.
Taking this time each morning is a nice reminder that I am very lucky to have shelter in a world where so many people do not. I ask that the vibration of my home be up-lifting and beneficial and shared with all.
While holding this vibration of gratitude for my home I light some sage and smudge the space.
Everybody poops but nobody talks about it! As a holistic health practitioner, I’ve learned to get a pretty accurate read on an individual’s vitality based on analyzing the quality and frequency of their reported bowel movements.
The body craves regularity. When our lifestyle is aligned with the natural order – when we eat whole organic food, drink plenty of clean water, learn to calm the mind, maintain sound sleep hygiene, move often, and establish functional breathing patterns, we find regularity emerges in our bowel movements.
Peristalsis describes the rhythmic patterns of contraction and relaxation of the musculature of the intestines. This involuntary rhythm is governed by earth’s movements in relation to the sun! Poor lifestyle management can disrupt our connection to this natural rhythm, leaving us either constipated or needing to run to the toilet too often.
Functional peristalsis is designed for release in the morning hours when cortisol is high and the body is again upright after a period of sleeping. In the morning hours a healthy digestive system is primed to expel all metabolic waste in the intestines and begin a new circadian cycle on an empty tank.
Taking a big satisfying morning dump every day is a good indicator of overall wellness and connection to nature’s rhythm. And, let’s be honest - nothing feels better than those deep rhythmic contractions that assure you the bowel is completely empty, free and clear. Without them, you’re literally walking around full of shit! Pooping is a highlight of my morning and it should be a highlight of yours too.
For a deep dive on all thing’s bowel maintenance check out Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care by Bernard Jensen, MD.
Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant and neuro-enhancer in the world. In addition to its potent effects on memory enhancement, a good organic coffee is loaded with polyphenols and anti-oxidants that reduce inflammation.
But, as with so many things in the health and wellness field, there is a lot of literature on both sides of the fence regarding the beneficial and detrimental effects of caffeine.
Some people will tell you it’s poison and provide studies to back it up, others will tell you it’s panacea and produce studies as well. You must listen to your body and find your own way. One thing is for sure though, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
Personally, I find two cups each morning to be ideal. Most mornings I’ll take it black but sometimes I like to blend in some good grass-fed butter and organic coconut oil. Not only does this taste great but the healthy fats delay the metabolic uptake of caffeine which allows for a steady uplifting quality absent of the jitters some people report.
Inner and outer space tended to, and with a piping hot cup of coffee at my desk, I am ready to engage technology. I’ll turn the wi-fi back on, (it’s switched off during sleeping hours) open the laptop and turn the phone on to see if anything requires immediate attention. I’ll take this time to coordinate my schedule with my clients for the coming days, review the day’s work obligations, and make necessary preparations.
I have found it so incredibly beneficial to forgo any engagement with tech until after I’ve tended to some of my morning rituals and practices.
Though unfortunately it has become quite normalized, it’s very detrimental to our well-being for a screen to be the last thing we see before we fall asleep and the first thing we reach for upon awake