Not long ago, a frazzled mom asked me what my morning routine looked like. Almost embarrassed because of its simplicity, I shared my early morning rhythm anyway.
I like to call it a rhythm rather than a routine. A rhythm sounds less rigid than routine. A morning rhythm can ebb and flow with your season of life. A routine seems resistant to change and a bit inflexible.
A soulful and no-FUSS morning rhythm is essential to healthy living. It provides a gentle framework to prioritize your morning. Without a rhythm, distractions creep in to assail your time and attention.
Clear a space in your morning.
Starting tomorrow, get up just 30 minutes before the rest of your household to capture the quiet and follow five simple practices. As you incorporate these practices into your morning, you may discover that they help reduce stress, prevent burn-out, and decrease anxiety.
Here’s the world’s most basic soulful morning rhythm.
I start with coffee and go from there.
1. Meditate on Scripture
For some, spending 45 minutes in the morning on a devotional or Bible study isn’t possible. Like most people, you probably have a limited window of time in the morning, so perhaps devote a portion of your evenings to a more intensive time of the study.
Taking some time out of your morning to meditate on Scripture will have an enormous impact on your spiritual well-being.
Justin Taylor writes that “Reading is the exposure to Scripture, but meditation is the absorption of Scripture. And it’s the absorption of Scripture that leads to the transformation of our lives.”
Meditating on Scripture takes only a few minutes of focus each morning.
How to practice the art of meditating on Scripture:
Devote a notebook to your morning time of meditating on Scripture. To cultivate a rhythm of meditating on scripture, pick a verse from a Bible study that you are currently doing or select a favorite verse. Write the verse in your notebook. Apply the list of practices suggested below.
- call to mind the works, ways, wonders, and promises of God
- think over, contemplate, ponder God’s greatness and glory
- dwell on a passage to attain understanding or clarity
- apply the passage to your life
- ask questions about the reading ( two outstanding resources for learning to ask questions are The Art of Divine Meditation by Puritan Joseph Hall and The Question by Leigh A. Bortins, founder of Classical Conversations, Inc.)
You can get as creative as you want. The critical thing to remember is to focus just on the passage.
2. Grace, Gratitude, and Prayer Journaling
Next, spend a few minutes in a prayer journal. I find it helpful to follow the memory prompt P-A-R-T
P – Praise
A– Admit (confess)
R – Request
T– Thank (gratitude)
Even though writing down your prayers seems simplistic, you will begin to see that a great deal of substance lies hidden on the pages of your journal.
3. Read a Book That Deepens Your Spiritual Growth
During my morning time, I read a faith-based, non-fiction book. I have a small stack of Christian non-fiction on a bookshelf in my office. I pick one book and read it for 10 minutes. The intent is to nourish your spiritual well-being.
If the book is exceptionally riveting, yes, it is hard to pull away after just 10 minutes. At that point, I try and carve out a few extra time during the day to grab a few more minutes to bury myself in the book.
Here’s the key: buy the book so that you can make the book your own. I cultivated this habit from How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren.
They claim that the best way to make yourself a part of a book is by “writing in it.”
I have found this to be true. Marking in a book is an indispensable habit to foster.
Express you ownership and enthusiasm of the book by:
- underlining and using asterisks, stars, exclamation points
- writing notes to the writer in the margins
- circling keywords or phrase
- using sticky notes™ in all colors, shapes, and sizes
4. Plan for Your Day
Allot 10 minutes to brainstorm ideas for your day. It doesn’t matter which method of planning you use. The point is to map out your day informally. Write down or bullet journal goals, appointments, chores, and meals.
Planning may seem like the least soulful part of your morning rhythm. Don’t be tempted to skip this part.
Adding structure to your morning allows you to prioritize your day so that you can maintain some (toddlers have a way of throw throwing this off-kilter) balance.
Without a plan of some sort, you take the risk of being bombarded by distractions (social media, phone calls/texts, Netflix).
A simple, daily plan helps diminish distraction during your day so that you can serve your people well.
5. Be Intentional About Your Health and Well-Being
Self-care is restorative.
The more you exercise self-care, the higher your capacity to be present with family, friends, and co-workers.
When I was a young mom, I confused self-care with selfishness. My heroic attempts at doing motherhood without self-care brought me to the brink of burn-out.
Carve out 5-10 minutes in your morning rhythm to take your supplements, apply essential oils, make a smoothie, stretch, or whatever you do to provide a morning self-care rhythm.
One final thought about a soulful morning rhythm
If you want to get up early, then, you will have to go to bed at a decent time. It seems natural to say but more difficult to put into practice.
Not too long ago, I forgot to follow my own advice.
I like to end the day in the company of great fiction. It’s a nice way to decompress. Books serve as a quiet reprieve for introverts like me.
Recently I read Delia Owens’ riveting book, Where the Crawdad’s Sing. Against my better judgment, I neglected to put a limit on my nighttime reading time, so I ended up with a book hangover twice while reading that novel.
In spite of the past midnight page-turning, I still managed to drag my sleep-deprived body out of bed for my morning rhythm, but it wasn’t pretty until the second cup of dark roast.
Denise Sultenfuss says