Labas Rytas: How to Make a Morning Routine Work for You
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that I'm still living in a liminal space - the transition space between one and another. Especially with our car delivery being postponed, I'm constantly practicing patience (gross!) and doing my best to stay flexible and open-hearted. (Serving some realness today, y'all.) When things don't go to plan - as many inevitably will not, in a move this large - you can really feel the stark expat reality of being so far away from family and friends. It doesn't matter what weather patterns are blowing through: this change is inevitable.
Beyond the constant R.E.M. and new-old Taylor Swift music streaming from my new flat (hi neighbors! Hope you like the Red album!), there's really only one routine that has kept me grounded and present the last week or so. I have to give my sweet friend, Lana, full credit for introducing me to this routine: she's such a big fan, she hangs a daily reminder in her bedroom. So, without further adieu, this routine was created by Hal Elrod, who describes it this way:
“How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days—which inevitably create a successful life—in the same way that unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life. By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible.”
You can mix-and-match the six habits, or even add on, like Lana has done. I like to benefit from my razor-sharp morning focus and keep it short and simple - each step for five minutes each. Alright, let's imagine you just woke up - labas rytas (good morning)! Here's how it works:
Silence. Start your day with silence. This may look different depending on the day, but taking deep breaths, meditating, and chanting are all options here. Essentially, this step quiets the mind - one already quieted from sleep, in my Not-A-Morning-Person case. It also provides a chance to connect to yourself, your inner voice, your Source - whatever it is that helps you feel connected and supported, or at least curious for the next step.
Affirmations. I'll say it right up front: I'm not a proponent of fake or overly positive affirmations. But, I am a proponent of positive self-talk, especially if you're an expat and in a Change soup. (Who, me?) My affirmations are fluid and change from day to day, moment to moment, but this morning, there was a lot of: "I am open to change" and "I embrace this space in the unknown, and know this, too, shall pass." The point? Encouraging and vibrant words that give your brain and heart a chance to align and relax before the next step, which is...
Visualization. Similar to affirmations, visualizations go one step further and create a story space in my gut and mind that can actually stick. I visualize the big things on my day's list, as well as the smaller ones (dancing while cleaning countertops). Or, I envision moments in my near future, such as the feeling I'll have when my car arrives at my doorstep (elation and relief!). These visualizations create productive and meaningful sync ups to What I Really Desire. Then, I use that same energy to move into...
Exercise. No surprise - the bones of this one look different day to day, too. But, it can involve stretching, yoga, lifting weights, walking around my home and saying Labas rytas to my plants and crystals (wow, I'm really that person!), etc. The goal here is to get my blood pumping along with my now active and alert mind.
Reading. Then, I sit back down for five minutes of reading. As a kid, I would stay up late into the night reading in my closet, so this is one I've got down pretty good. I've got a well-worn copy of Braiding Sweetgrass constantly attached to my bedside, so I've been reading excerpts from it, but sometimes I'll switch it up to Women in Praise of the Sacred. It depends on my mood, but I recommend something that has a poetic feel to it.
Scribing. Okay, scribing is a weird way to say "writing," but let's do it. I take my first few minutes to work on a gratitude list (I use the Presently app!), and then just write whatever needs to come out of me. Sometimes, it's just words from the recesses of my sub-conscious, sometimes it's poetry or lyrics, but usually it's a pep talk or razor-sharp clarity on something I'm working through. It does always start with gratitude, even and especially on those cold, grey days.
And that's it! It takes me thirty minutes to complete, after which I feel more clear and ready to take on my day. This has truly been the pièce de résistance of my day's work recently; it keeps the rest of my day chugging along efficiently. So how do you even begin? If you're new to it, I'd recommend sticking to it for six minutes - one habit a minute - and then expand it out if you feel more curious.
Sounds obvious, but that's my key: starting small, not stressing out if I skip a day (I only do it Monday through Friday), and creating an automated digital routine (shout out to Lana for helping me set it up on my Alexa before I moved!). Let me know if you have something similar in your own routine, or if you decide to give this one a go.
I'll leave you with a small interaction I had the other day that left me appreciating humanity. I walked up to a guy at a registration site, and seeing the word "English" above him, I said, "Hey!"
Me: "How are you doing today?"
Him: "I'm actually feeling tired and sad today."
Me: "Wow, thank you for your honesty... That's appreciated."
Him: "You're welcome. How are you?"
Me: "Well, I'm also tired, but I'm grateful for the sunshine today. I'll take every ounce of it I can get."
Him: "Me too. It's true - there's always at least one thing to be happy about each day, isn't there?"
Me: "Yeah, I think so. I agree..."
And then he moved on to registering me into the system. It was such a small but meaningful interaction, but reminded me that good, honest people and moments are everywhere. Sometimes - like right now, for me - you just have to stick out your neck a bit further to notice them. Trust - they're there.
Sending positive energy from Lithuania! Viso gero - until next time!