7 Things Mindful People Do Before 9 A.M.

"Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields." -- Mary Oliver
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When you're tired and sleep deprived, like many Americans today, mornings can often pass by in a groggy blur. But rushing to work without checking in with yourself is a waste of a precious opportunity. Each morning is a new beginning, and each sunrise brings with it an opportunity for renewal and rejuvenation.

Instead of waking up to stress and rushing, consider how the rest of your day could go if you started it by doing something just for yourself. A spiritually refreshing morning ritual can help set you up for a day full of positivity.

Here are a few simple tips on how to create a morning routine that will nourish your soul.

Wake Up Just A Little Bit Earlier
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Centering yourself in the morning takes time. Give yourself a chance to establish a good morning ritual by going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier. Pope Francis is a big fan of getting up at the crack of dawn -- his mornings begin at 4:30 a.m., which gives him plenty of time to pray and muse over his first sermon of the day. The Dalai Lama wakes up even earlier, at 3 a.m., to take a morning shower and meditate.

If you're a big fan of the snooze button, Huffington Post blogger Sarah Peterson, who is also a writer at Unsettle.org, has a helpful tip: to try waking up just one minute earlier every day.

"You'll take longer to reach your goal, but taking a few months to build the habit is better than never building it at all," she writes.
Awaken With A Prayer On Your Lips
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Many religious traditions have morning prayers that believers say to give thanks for a new day. Muslims have a beautiful set of prescribed rituals and prayers. Right after awakening, some Jews say the "Modeh Ani" prayer:

"I offer thanks to You,
living and eternal King,
for You have mercifully restored my soul within me;
Your faithfulness is great."

An awakening prayer can be just as meaningful for people who don't identify with a specific religious tradition. Gabrielle Bernstein, a best-selling author and self-described "spirit junkie," has a morning prayer that she says before opening her eyes -- "'What miracles would you have me perform today?"

"It just brings me right out of, 'What can I get, what do I need to do, what are my problems, what did I go to sleep worrying about?'" Bernstein said in a video about her morning ritual. "And right into 'What do you want to move through me today? How can I be of service today?"
Spend A Few Moments At Your Home Altar Or Meditation Space
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Oprah Winfrey has a designated space within her house that she uses for meditation.

"If it’s for 1 minute, 20 seconds, or 10 minutes, I at least stop in that space in my house every morning,” Winfrey said in a video about her routine.

Your home altar or meditation space doesn't have to be elaborate. Winfrey's space has just three candles and a few spiritual readings. You can add a devotional statue, photos of loved ones or fresh flowers.

While you are at your altar, spend some time speaking out loud to yourself -- whether it's a prayer, a personal mantra or an expression of gratitude. There's something powerful about actually vocalizing your thoughts, instead of meditating on them silently. Pay attention as the prayer arises in your mind, forms on your tongue and resounds in your ears.

Laurie Lovekraft, a Los Angeles-based pagan priestess, offers a stick of incense or a lit candle at her home altar in the morning to honor her ancestors, local nature spirits and her patron deity. She also tries to spend a few minutes at her altar to give thanks.

“My home is dedicated to the Greek god Hermes, so I’ll draw His symbol in the air with the incense and say 'Hail Hermes' before stepping away to brew coffee,” she told The Huffington Post. “Giving thanks feels good and is a potent way to slow down and appreciate what we already have and what we want to create next.”
Move Your Body
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Whether it’s running outside or taking the dog for a walk, take some time to move your body in the morning.

After his early morning wake up time, the Dalai Lama is known to take a short walk around his residence in Dharamsala, India. If it’s raining, he uses a treadmill instead.

Movement is a vital part of starting out the day, says Cassi Christiansen, a leadership coach with the Oregon-based coaching company Ulumination.

“Our hearts and souls are connected to our bodies and they love to be stretched, cherished, nourished and loved,” Christiansen said. “Do a quick child’s pose to surrender yourself to the day, or a mountain pose to let the day know you are ready to take it on, or take a little longer walk to the bus to give you time to reflect.”
Savor Nature
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Imagine this: You get up, jump in the car or subway and scramble into your office. By the time your workday is over -- especially during the winter months -- the last of the sun’s rays have disappeared from the sky. How many days do we let go by without enjoying the great gift of nature?

There are simple ways to incorporate nature into your early morning ritual, says Diana Long, a professional life coach based in Ohio.

“Enjoy your coffee sitting on the porch. Watching a minute or two of the sun coming up is an instant uplift to your energy and sets the tone for a positive start to the day,” Long told HuffPost. “Even in chillier climates, bundling up and walking outside with a steaming mug of tea [or] letting the dog out gives us a precious sliver of time to take pause and soak in the beauty that is right before us. Even our everyday routines can be transformed into holy moments!”
Listen To Music
If you have trouble getting up early or finding time meditate, music is an easy way to center yourself.

Music helped Reba Riley, a writer and spiritual sojourner who spend a year exploring different religions, accomplish the goals she set for herself. While writing her book Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome, Riley said that she would meditate on positive, inspirational music in the mornings.

She told HuffPost, “Choose a song that brings out the emotions you want to take throughout your day--like peace, happiness, or empowerment. (I currently use “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.) Listen to the song once with your eyes closed and really concentrate on the feelings the music creates. Then listen to the song a second time while visualizing yourself tackling the tasks of your day and achieving your goals.”

Kathleen Theriot, a Christian life coach from Louisiana, used a similar technique when she was a single mother raising children and working full-time.

“Mornings were the worst, so much to do and so little time. Getting up earlier to spend time alone in meditation, journaling or prayer was just impossible, no matter how hard I tried,” Theriot said. “ What I decided to do was this – I turned off the TV, radio, etc. and put on either instrumental or chant type music. I played it all over the house from the time we woke up until it was time to leave the house. Of course, my kids rolled their eyes, but the music succeeded in calming all of us, clearing our minds and allowing us to get ready with some sense of peace among us.”

One of Theriot’s favorite things to listen to in the mornings is the ethereal music of Hildegard von Bingen, a medieval nun.

If you're looking for your own morning playlist, check out this collection of happy songs assembled by HuffPost Healthy Living.
Tune In To The World
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According to the writer Pico Iyer, a longtime friend of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader makes it a point to listen to the news every morning -- even during meditation. The Dalai Lama’s favorite programs are reportedly Voice of America, the BBC East Asian broadcast and the BBC World Service.

It may seem that this practice isn’t spiritually nourishing -- the news is often filled with messages of suffering, war and injustice. But the key is in how you listen.

Iyer said that the Dalai Lama’s desire to learn about what is happening in the world reminds him of how the Buddha is often depicted with his right hand touching the earth.

The gesture is a powerful message that all life on earth is inextricably linked. It’s a reminder to let go of the idea that your neighbor’s welfare is somehow disconnected from your own.

So spend time in the morning listening to the news that is affecting the world and make a pledge to do your part in spreading kindness.

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