I started doing a morning ritual a few months ago, in late Summer 2017. When I first started, I had a practical and mental-health focused goal in mind. I’ve noticed that when I dive into my day (sometimes no so enthusiastically as that wording sounds) my brain is still muddled from sleep and whatever dreams I just had and whatever emotions I have from dreams that I may not even remember. I have a “I have all this stuff to do and I’m gonna run out of time and I need to do it NOWWWWWW!” kind of anxiety, and combined with ‘just woke up’ fogginess it was not helping me at all. Also, my toddler has stopped taking regular naps doing the day though fortunately she doesn’t wake up terribly early in the morning. So, there is my chance to have some me time.
My ritual started with getting up and getting some coffee and sitting in my floor chair in front of a window and watching the morning get brighter. I made it a time to think relaxing thoughts and reflect and think about what I wanted to do before trying to jump into a to-do list. Then, if I had any quiet time left when I was done I could use it for studying and school work while I had a fresh state of mind. And it worked wonderfully.
When I started out with my Quiet Coffee practice I thought of it more as a self-care exercise. I resisted calling it meditation because it was more just quiet sitting and I didn’t want to get caught up in all the things that the word ‘meditation’ implies. I just wanted to keep it simple and easy. Later though, about October I decided I did want to add some actual meditation to my morning ritual, and tried out the Calm app on my phone — and soon bought a subscription to be able to access their daily guided meditation. So, now, in addition to getting up and sitting still for a little bit in the morning I started putting on my noise-cancelling headphone and working with daily guided meditation. And that worked wonderfully too.
Meditation Space and Altar
I came into a renewed interest in Paganism around Halloween (the thought always crosses my mind in that time of the year) but this time I took it beyond just thinking. Especially since I already had an established time and place for mediation in the morning, I got myself a smallish accent table and set up a personal altar. I started out with a seasonal focus in mind, and then added a few items that meant things to me, such as a bracelet my sister had made me many years ago, and a fire opal ring that my late grandfather made that he’d let me select off a tray when I was about 13 or 14. And I added a small Buddha statue that I’d acquired several years ago when I had a big interest in Buddhism and Buddhist meditation. Following advice on Wiccan altars I added a red taper candle to the back right to represent the God and a white taper to represent the Goddess on the other side. Part of my ritual for a while was to light the candles, first the red one and then the white one while saying ‘Good morning God’ ad ‘Good morning Goddess’ before sitting down on my cushion in front of the altar to do my daily guided meditation with the Calm app. I also tried a more formal invocation to the God and Goddess that I found in a book on Wicca but after about a week I decided it felt too awkward and insincere to do that. I’m not really a believer in gods or goddesses after all — but I have a complicated relationship with the Goddess at least that doesn’t really have anything to do with belief.
The ritual sitting in front of the altar for my meditation and lighting candles and incense has worked well for me for these past few months so I think I will hold on to that. I also enjoy changing up my altar for the seasons. For the Yule season I had some evergreen sprigs and pine cones I found on the ground while hiking, along with a Yule log candle holder. My current altar has a Brigid Cross for Imbolc. The other major addition to my altar now is my flaming chalice, since I am a Unitarian Universalist and it feel appropriate to incorporate that into my daily ritual.
Today, this was my ritual: I got up lit the candles and the chalice and some incense and did the daily guided meditation. Then I read a selection from the book Earth Prayers and then extinguished all the candles except the chalice then stated my intentions for the day before blowing out the chalice. I think this will work for now, until I feel an urge to change it or add new elements.