“The last ten minutes of your day are extremely important—equally as important are the first ten minutes upon awakening.” – Shirley Meerson Share this quote on Twitter

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Shirley Meerson

What is your morning routine?

I wake up naturally between 7:00-7:30am. My morning routine consists of doing five things in five minutes. These are simple steps designed so that I run my day, and the day doesn’t run me.

1) Prayer: I start my day with love, appreciation, kindness, and gratitude. I say a prayer while I’m still in bed. I switch it up when I feel like it—the prayer can be spiritual or religious, or it can be an affirmation or goal.

2) Light: I get myself over to a window and open the curtains to let the light in. This shuts down the sleep hormone, melatonin, in my body, which allows the body’s natural circadian rhythm to know that I’m now awake.

3) Breathe: I now do some deep breathing from my diaphragm. After three rounds of conscious slow breathing, my body feels superb.

4) Hydrate: Next I drink water at room temperature because my body is dehydrated from the long night of sleep. This water helps to flush out toxins, fire up my metabolism, and give fuel to my brain.

5) Self-affirmation: As I pass a mirror on the way to the bathroom, I stop and give myself some love. I greet myself as I’d greet someone I care about, am happy to see, and love dearly. Positivity rules! I just speak directly to myself in the mirror and say: “Good morning, have a wonderful day, you’re beautiful.” Or I just wave and smile.

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It takes me about five minutes to complete these simple steps to start my day with love and appreciation. For the most part, I’m not hung up about the order of these five hacks. Upon completion I begin my pattern of making coffee or tea, meditating, qigong, reading, and stretching.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

This morning routine has served me well for the last two years. It creates a mindset of ease and stability—which I enjoy and find to be beneficial.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

Life is about education and fine-tuning. Due to my lifelong passion being focused on holistic health and my experiments with healing technologies, I have changed routines many times. The current routine has another addition: oil pulling is something I do in spurts and I find it to be a wonderfully positive experience.

What time do you go to sleep?

Between 10:00-10:30pm, but before that time I begin my sleep hygiene routine in stages. First I cut off and dim the lights in certain rooms and begin to wind down… my phone is off by 9:00pm.

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

Your mindset is the key. The last ten minutes of your day are extremely important—equally as important are the first ten minutes upon awakening.

After dimming the lights I often have some chamomile tea and a capsule of ashwagandha. Just before I get into bed, I carefully shake a few drops of aromatherapy oil on the top of my hand. As I lay in bed, I lift my hand to my face for a deep inhalation of the lovely, healing fragrance.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning?

I believe in waking up when you wake up. I don’t use an alarm, with the exception of for specific early morning appointments, or while traveling due to time differences.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

Breakfast is finished by 8:30am. Typically I’ll have tea, walnuts, a healthy biscuit, Greek yogurt, and dates. While traveling and on project sites, I like to experiment with local foods for breakfast, so long as I keep it light.

An important part of breakfast time for me is to have on relaxing music, and to burn incense. Usually the fragrance is “woodsy spicy” like sandalwood or oud variations.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

I call exercise movement, and I add it into my day at different moments throughout the day. I walk everywhere for errands, which clocks in a good number of steps per day, and if I’m on a project this can also require a lot of walking.

If you benchmark with the standard goal of 10,000 steps per day theory, simple errands will get you toward a third of this. Aside from walking I also do qigong stretching, and I’m a big believer in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). On occasions when I do hit the gym, I tend toward the treadmill and free weights.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

Living in both the Middle East and Asia for many years, I have always embraced many spiritual traditions and customs, and have incorporated many of them into my morning routine. My root meditation is based in Tibetan Buddhism, which I have practiced for decades.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I don’t answer email first thing—my nerves do not approve. Later in the morning, I skim them. I work across various time zones, so I’m not into the early morning email rush.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

Aside from the ashwagandha and aromatherapy oil, I often fall asleep listening to music on my iPad.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

I only turn on my phone in order to use it for reading selections on some of my feeds. Not news, fun stuff. Can be the latest song from YRF, or something on NHK-World showing some cultural snippets.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Mornings for me are a prime time for writing and anything that allows me to tap into my creative juices. It’s a rare time when I am not influenced by all “the noise” of the outside world.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

After the warm water I’ll have tea during breakfast. Quite often it’s pu’er or green tea. Occasionally I indulge in my other favorite teas, including Assam and Karak, or Ipoh white coffee 2 in 1.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

I do follow my routine on weekends. My body and mind love the pattern and respond positively to it. Of course, sometimes I may sleep in on the weekend depending on various factors…

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

The foundation of my morning routine is the five things in five minutes system. This is do-able in almost any environment.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

I breathe and do my best to bring equanimity into my day.


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