Now that we’ve gotten the big picture stuff out of the way, we’re ready to begin talking about a daily ritual itinerary, a framework through which you can punctuate your day with rituals. This is simply a guide. I recommend you ease your way into it by introducing one or a few that are of interest to you and build from there. This is only a suggestion, and is in no way meant to be a rigid prescription. Most of the “how-to” aspects of the following rituals are located in the Recipes section of this blog (see here). with instructions or directions about how to perform them
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IN THE MORNING
The goal here is to bring our circadian rhythm back in line with nature by triggering melatonin. This simple act both energizes us and regularizes our sleep patterns, which is nothing short of critical to beauty and good health.
First Light is something I look forward to each morning when I wake up. In fact, it’s the very first thing I do every morning. It’s as simple as this: I get out of bed, go downstairs, open the door, and step outside to feel the natural light. Of course, this is easier to do in the spring and summer months when the temperature is warmer and the sunlight is available earlier. If you wake up early in the fall and winter months, chances are it is still dark outside. In this case, I still walk outside for the fresh air, but I do so when the light becomes available.
WHY IT WORKS
Each of us has an internal master clock called a circadian clock. This clock works in twenty-four-hour cycles, and it regulates the physiological processes in the body as well as signaling us when it’s time to sleep. This body clock responds to environmental cues, such as light, darkness, and temperature. Located in the hypothalamus, it is made up of two clusters of thousands of nerve cells. Exposure to natural light first thing in the morning helps reset our body clock, which assists the processes of our natural internal rhythm in working optimally.
WHY DO IT?
Light in the morning helps us wake up. It energizes us and helps jump-start the production of melatonin to promote a good night’s sleep when the time comes. It may sound counterintuitive to start producing the hormone that makes us sleepy as we wake up, but we need to build up enough melatonin throughout the course of the day to ensure a good night’s sleep. Adequate amounts of light affect our sleeping patterns, productivity, alertness, and mood. It also improves our metabolic function. So, let the light in. Let the light shine on you.
HOW TO DO IT
Go outside first thing in the morning and look at the natural light. Also note that Third Light is important for all of the same reasons, but in reverse. Dim your interior lights at least one hour before bedtime. This signals you that it’s time to go to sleep and have a good night’s rest.
Ideally, we want to spend a combined amount of at least one hour outdoors per day.
A morning meditation is a great ritual for starting off the day with an intentional connection with yourself. Checking in with ourself prior to beginning a hectic day full of unknown surprises grounds us in calmness and aids us in dealing with the ebbs and flows of the day ahead. Meditation is not meant for us to try to control our thoughts; rather, it is a tool to help us understand that thoughts come
and go. (For more on meditation, see here.)
By the time we start our day, our body has been at rest in a prone state for many hours. Ofen we don’t have time to make it to a morning exercise or yoga class. Morning Movement is a ritual to get the blood flowing and remind us that we have a body that needs our attention. It is an opportunity to rejoice in and be grateful for the body in which we reside. Toning, opening, stretching, strengthening, and releasing are some of the benefits of Morning Movement. (See here for seasonally appropriate body movements.)
Exfoliation is a deep cleanse for the skin. In-shower skin exfoliation stimulates the lymph nodes, removes dead skin cells, tones the skin, and awakens the senses. It eliminates toxins and clears the mind; it breaks down fatty tissues, and helps reduce the appearance of age spots on the skin. It helps prevent ingrown hairs, reduces stress, and because it increases blood circulation, it also creates glowing, healthy skin.