Create Healthy Rituals: The Freedom of Discipline
“Some regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” ~ Julie Andrews
I agree with Julie Andrews wholeheartedly! I have always been a list maker and checker-offer. As I have gotten older, I sometimes lose my lists, yet the list is still a big part of my day. I find my electronic lists harder to lose, but typing items in with my thumbs doesn’t provide the same excitement as hand writing them and crossing things off. Lists provide order for me; order and discipline allow me freedom.
I gain freedom to think and be creative because I am not trying to remember all the things I have to do. When I established my morning routine, my life changed for the better. As with many things in my life, it was suggested along time ago to create a morning routine. I have always been one to set out my clothes, make lunches, plan the next day the night before so that I may be present in the morning. With my morning routine written, I follow the steps, even though they have long since been memorized, and begin my day.
Preparation and planning are part of my discipline and routine that help me to be clear, at peace and able to do my life with family, career, friends, and lots of other pleasures. Patanjali tells us in Yoga Sutra 1.14: “It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed.”
sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara adara asevito drdhabhumih
So not only do we need to do out practice for a long period of time, we need to do it with a positive attitude and eagerness, to succeed and move ahead. If I check off my lists, do my routine, my practice and am not excited about it, I will not reap the benefits that come along with following my correct path.
My Morning Rituals
So what is my morning routine? It is a mixture of Ayurveda, yoga and general health practices:
- I wake before my family
- go to the bathroom
- wash my face
- brush my teeth
- scrape my tongue
Many of these things I have done all of my life, yet they are still on my list. Next:
- I alternate between oil pulling (swishing oil between your teeth) and
- using the neti pot and nasya oil.
Some days I do both. It depends on time, the season and how my body feels. If my nose is dry, I use the neti pot and nasya. If I took in a bunch of toxins, I oil pull. Sometimes I just rub some sesame oil on my gums. It’s soothing and has an anti-bacterial affect.
At this point, my family is up and I head down to the kitchen and:
- make hot water with a slice of lemon and ginger. I drop my guys off at school, take care of the dogs, and make a cup a tea.
- I do abhyanga (oil massage) from head to toe. While the oil makes its way into my body,
- I do my yoga practice, which includes a short asana practice with pranayama (breathing), chanting and meditation.
- Finally, I shower, get dressed and head to my kitchen to work.
Now I know that seems like a lot. It is, and it’s not. It’s taken me a long time to get it down to an hour for everything. It doesn’t always flow like I’ve written it and it doesn’t always happen in its entirety. Sometimes I want a longer yoga practice and do it later in the morning or day. Some days I don’t shower and use a dry brush (loofa or wash cloth) to exfoliate my skin instead of oil.
Now Create Your Own Rituals
I suggest creating a routine that works for you. Start with something you already do like brushing your teeth and add it something new like tongue scraping. Why? Katja has a clear and simple article, 5 Reasons to Scrape your Tongue Every Day.
The main thing is to create a routine that is helpful and important to you. Developing discipline is part of creating a new habit. It is much easier to get rid of a habit that doesn’t serve us if we can replace it with a new one that has some benefit to us.
You might wonder why I do all of this? Well, it all makes me feel good; I rarely, if ever, get sick; and I am usually pretty balanced, even as my body and family go through changes. Was Patanjali talking about morning routines in YS 1.14? I don’t know, but it’s a practice that serves me and I reap the benefits of it from doing it regularly, enthusiastically and over a long period of time. Certainly my yoga practice has benefited me and those around me over a period of time. That’s enough for me.
I would love to hear about how each of you changes habits, what you do for morning routines or other discipline practices that would be helpful to me or my readers.