By Christopher Grohs
My first encounter with routines was a rigid set of movements full of calculated self care. The feeling was inconvenient and time consuming, requiring 2 hours of my time. It felt like a job to get all of my self-care in place. The attitudinal change needed to happen first: Why was I suffering? Do routines have to be an inconvenience?
I realized the whole act was a vulnerable pursuit of noticing my body, the state of my system, the texture of my skin. I want to love this form, not rush away from it. I can honor it by softly noticing this form; by treating it like a lover. I am my own lover.
Bookmark your day in 4 Step
Wake up. Start. There are hundreds of ways to begin. How do you want yours to go? Slight stretch and yawn? Animal noises on your bed? Pen and paper? Morning Coffee? Your morning ritual is the foundation of your day, and crafting a supportive foundation is a beautiful platform to grow your activities.
Wind down. Rest. Soften your body into the state of sleep, ease and calm. Write in your journal. Listen to a guided meditation. Have a cup of tea. Stretch on your bed. Explore the terrain of your unique experience, and craft a routine that supports your transition into rest.
The only rule that I give myself for crafting a routine is that it must be helpful: helping to start my day, helpful to my vibrancy, helpful to connection, helpful to my wellbeing, helpful to the community, helpful to rest. I view the routine as an opportunity. Maybe that’s my second rule. Yes, two rules. Routines are best when full of opportunity and helpful.
Step 1: Pick a time to go to sleep, take 30 minutes off that time for your nightly routine, and start. Tonight. Let your evening routine inform your morning. My favorites are journaling a few snippets of my day and a short guided meditation. The physical act of capping my day with memories eases me to sleep.
- Guided Meditation
- Restorative Yoga
- Soft Foam Rolling
- Bed Stretching
Step 2: Wake up without your blaring alarm. Go to bed without your phone (insert: any bright electronic device). Terrifying, yes. The morning is best for me when hints of sunlight prompt my eyes to open, my body to stretch awake. If the evening routine settles you into bed, the morning routine will usher you out of bed.
- An Eastern-Facing window
- Light-up Alarm
- A glass full of room temperature water (with a few thin slices of citrus from the night before)
Step 3: Do it immediately. Don’t procrastinate. Learn to say no, and feel that “no” is just as powerful as “yes.” I say no to rechecking my email 5 times before I sleep. I say no to watching shows on my computer. I say no to any activity that pulls me out of the softening state of pre-sleep.
I say yes to tea, to softly scrubbing my body, to massaging my feet. I say yes to writing, yoga nidra, binaural beats and a partner to spoon. This is your time to be so sweet, treating your system like a fond lover. Be your own lover. Love yourself, sweetly.
Step 4: Repeat. Every day.
Once you establish a routine, affirm the most important part of the routine. One activity that is essential. Do that each day, regardless. Write it down. Pick a time. Do it. Make that activity the crux of your routine.
The Body Scrub : Hands down my favorite activity. Ideally, I do it twice per day. More vigorously in the morning, and sweetly at night. If I can’t do it twice, I do it as the start of either routine. Scrubbing the body is great for the lymphatic system, vibrant skin and your nervous system.
Morning Routines and Evening Rituals Part 2: Let your surroundings inform your day
By extended that love of self to the environment around me, I welcome the area into my day. I restructured my routines around my local environment—honoring the landscape, my surroundings.
My routine in paradise:
Wake Up, Give Thanks and Dive in:
I start the day with a dip in the pool. Light plays softly on the water’s surface. The first few moments, I notice the sun peaking over the coconut trees. Thank you to the land, the owners, the workers and the mystery. The first dip is cool from afternoon showers and the absence of bright sun. My senses perk up. I greet the day with a bath, washing off the sticky eyes of last night’s slumber.
After the coffee-esq wake up call of my first dip, I walk the tunnels of Blue Osa. I notice more of my surroundings—the flowers in bloom, the geckos darting over rocks, the dappled light through branches. The path is a ladder rung that connects the pool to the hub of my landscape: the kitchen.
A stack of clean mugs sit next to two large urns, each with a morning beverage. My preferred choice is green tea, or the occasional (read: delicious) cup of coffee. The aroma alerts me to my next step on the path. It hydrates my tissue, nourishes my belly and wakes up my creative function.
Pen to paper, once per day. Ideally in the morning. I let it pour out, catching the stream of my experience as it passes. The act of free writing opens the channels of my creative expression, clearing out the doldrums of everyday life.
A practice of counting. Noticing. Attention. Each step marked in the sand, each bead passed through thumb and finger. The art of attention. The act of walking. The experience of cultivating awareness around my actions. Holding the midline through repetition. Building the experience with each step, each chant, each prayer.
Perspectives. Shifting though patterns. Moving into a new space. Finding a new angle. To clear the lens, I need to invert. This practice is energizing, playful and deliberate. It combines all parts of my morning, and marks the pinnacle of my experience. Float.
I no longer hide my form away; I share it with the sea. Wholly. All of me for the ocean. All of me for the sky, the birds, the fish. All of me ready to be seen, and to see. All of me. My body is an accumulation of all my choices, actions and movements. To radically accept this shape, in the present, is the greatest act of self love.
About the Author
Christopher Grohs is currently volunteering at Blue Osa, a yoga retreat in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. He has a strong desire to roll on the floor like a playful kitten and share in the weirdness of human movement potential, often floating around on his hands. He loves bodywork, swimming with contact dancers and crafting morning routines. In 2014, Christopher rekindled his love of yoga with trainings in the “BowSpring” template of alignment with their tagline: less mechanical, more animal. Meow.
He has an on-and-off affair with the East Coast, attending Northeastern University in Boston and spending most of his twenties in Raleigh, North Carolina. At the end of 2014, he ran away from his home—he free-listed his belongings and ventured into the wandering yogi lifestyle.