Slow Mornings

What do some of the most successful people we know have in common? A slow morning. Follow some simple tips to simplify your AM
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Sep 19, 2015 | By Joseph Meehan

he late Bruce Lee said “It is not the daily increase, but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” My concerted effort to hack away at the unessential begins in the morning. After careful consideration I found myself left with three antemeridian pursuits: Shaving, brewing coffee and eating breakfast, and reading.

One of my most valued gifts is a wet shave kit from my significant other which included a double-edge razor, a cup for shave soap, and a badger hair brush. It has provided daily comfort and healthy skin ever since.

The lower cost of the DE razor does not discourage changing the blade at the appropriate time, as opposed to the desire to stretch an expensive cartridge to its limit and beyond. A sharper blade gives a smooth shave that doesn't leave razor bumps and burn. In turn your face is not irritated and you have a comfortable, smooth shave each day.

There are three steps to shaving: preparation, shave, and aftershave. Each one of them can contribute to the overall health of your skin. Prepare the skin by cleansing with facial cleanser and warm water and soaking in a hot towel to open your pores and soften stubble. Use a moisturizing shave soap or cream for protection against the sharp edge of your razor. A splash of alcohol-based aftershave will tighten and cleanse the skin.

The face is an important part of how we present ourselves to the world. Having good skin can improve your confidence and help you present a better face to the world.

The ritual is something easily lost in our busy days. My real morning ritual, that I go through no matter what, is brewing coffee.

The ritual of making coffee in the morning has increased my value of the coffee I make at home. It is not necessarily the method, but the ritualized behavior and the delayed gratification of the coffee that satisfies. And what really makes it a ritual is the personal touch on the process: I always take a sip of the freshly-brewed black coffee before adding any cream or sugar or anything else. Something appeals to me about tasting the coffee in its most pure form before adding anything else to it, so this makes the ritual feel very personal.

Research has shown that performing a ritual before consumption of food or beverage can increase enjoyment and perceived value of the item in question. So the ritualistic brewing process is only a trick being played on my brain over and over again, yet it still works. Days when I have trouble getting out of bed, the thought of that first sip of black coffee is often enough to spring me out of the sheets directly. Add an element of ritual to anything you do in the mornings, and take your time doing it, and it will become something you value greatly, as well as something to look forward to every morning.

How to Brew Your Coffee
Heat enough water for a large mug. Weigh out 20 grams of coffee beans and grind it consistently fine. Arrange dripper with inserted filter over mug, place grounds into filter and give a shake to level. Pour half of the water through. Let the grounds bloom; continue pouring the rest of the water slowly into the center of the grounds, pausing as needed to allow for the slow drip. Taste the coffee and then add cream and sugar as desired.

Experts are continually reversing and reverting their opinions on the how, what, why and when of breakfast. The difficulty in deciding when and how to eat breakfast, and most of all what to eat for breakfast, can be a daunting task to the most thoughtful of eaters. But the choices you make about breakfast are no doubt critical ones.

While there are no direct causal links, breakfast has long been associated with a reduced risk of obesity. Experts agree that it may be the fact that a consistent habit of eating a healthy breakfast often exists alongside many other healthy habits: not smoking, healthy overall diet, regular exercise, etc.

Choosing foods that have a low glycemic index can increase the effectiveness of your breakfast. Include whole grain cereals, including whole oats, fruits, vegetables, dairy and eggs in your favorite combinations. On mornings when cooking isn't an option, whole grain cereal with sliced banana or strawberry, whole blueberries, or your fruit of choice on top makes a wonderful start to the day.

How to Make an Egg in a Basket
Use a coffee mug to carve a round out of the middle of a slice of whole wheat bread. Smear a frying pan with coconut oil and begin to toast the bread and round alongside each other. Flip bread when slightly browned and crack an egg into the bread's hollow circle. Cover and allow egg to cook to desired doneness. 

How to Make a Veggie Omelette
In a nonstick frying pan, saute mushrooms, peppers, garlic, zucchini, and onions in extra virgin olive oil. In a large bowl, beat two to three eggs with a splash of milk and salt and pepper. When the veggies are slightly tender, pour in eggs, stir, and cover. Allow to cook through. Serve immediately.

Smart phones, tablets, e-readers and computer monitors are ubiquitous in our society, and they are powerful tools with vast amounts of potential. For deeper reading and deeper understanding though, recent research suggests that the tactile nature of a book or a magazine helps our minds digest the information effectively and remember it better. Brandon Keim writes for Wired: “Maybe it's time to start thinking of paper and screens another way: not as an old technology and its inevitable replacement, but as different and complementary interfaces, each stimulating particular modes of thinking.”

Read your local alternative weekly, subscribe to a magazine or the paper, pick up a novel. It exercises a different muscle in your brain than reading on a screen does. Read on both screens and print to keep both of those muscles agile and flexible.

Begin the process of hacking away at your morning and take it back from all the busy hustle and bustle that is unavoidable for much of the day. Attend your hygiene, ritualize your morning, fuel your body, and exercise your brain. Discover your own morning pursuits to start the day right. [H]

Joseph Meehan is a writer, reader, hiker, gardener and amateur chef who lives in Oakland, CA.
He attributes much of his success in life to generous helpings of strong, strong coffee. 
Follow him on Twitter.

Images ©: 1; Wikimedia Commons. 2; Jeff Masamori. 3; Homemade Modern. 4; Food, Pleasure, and Health. 5; Morning Do. 6; Earth911