When I wake in the morning, my mind slowly gathers, and I begin to move, the early morning light just starting to seep in.
I have a glass of water, start the coffee, then meditate. Then I enjoy the coffee, a good book, and the quiet before the dust and din and steam of the day begins. Then I write.
This is my Lovely Morning, and I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from it.
It wasn’t always this way: I used to wake later, rush through a grumpy routine before diving into email and work and errands and meetings. It was frenetic and dreadful, but that was my life, and I didn’t think it would change.
I was wrong. I’ve changed my mornings for the better, with a few simple ideas.
I’ll share them with you here, and if you begin to enjoy the peace of your mornings more, send a smile in my general direction.
If your mornings are rushed, the simple solution is to get up a bit earlier. This means going to bed a bit earlier too. Do it gradually, just 10 minutes earlier a week, and you’ll barely notice the change.
One of my early mistakes was trying to fit too much into the mornings—I wanted to meditate and work out and read and write and journal, and it turns out I couldn’t do all those things. It felt too rigid, too packed. What’s helped me is having a couple things I do early on but not having a lot on my morning agenda, so that I can have space and flexibility. That makes the time much more peaceful and enjoyable. So the meditation and reading and writing are the only things that I do almost every morning, but I let myself be flexible with those too.
Don’t pack your mornings full of things you need to do … but do have something you can’t wait to get up and do. For me, that’s reading and writing. For others, morning yoga or painting or reading the paper with coffee might be better. Don’t just have things you think you should do but don’t really want to do.
I like to start with meditation (though I do miss some days), because it sets the tone for my morning—one of mindfulness. I then drink my coffee and write and do everything else with a more mindful attitude, noticing when I start to rush and feel stressed, noticing small things that I might miss if I were distracted.
Consider this early morning time your sacred space—don’t fill it with junk. Junk includes TV, news, email, social media, apps, etc. Instead, put meaningful things in this sacred space, things that you won’t have time for later. You can always dive into email after an hour (or more) of lovely morning peace.
This time isn’t just something you fill with things to do … it’s open space. That means the space itself is something to be treasured, not just what you put in it. For example, if you do yoga and read, the morning isn’t just valuable because of the yoga and reading … the space around those two things is also wonderful. The time you’re putting your yoga mat away, getting a cup of coffee, walking to where your book is, sitting and staring at the morning light … these little spaces are just as amazing as anything else. Pace yourself so that you’re not rushing from one thing to the next, but enjoying the spaces.
A Lovely Morning isn’t something that just falls into your lap. It’s created consciously. You don’t have to implement all these ideas at once, but try one or two out and see if your mornings improve. I think you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.
This article originally appeared in Zen Habits and is reprinted with permission.