Morning Ritual – Preparing A Mindful Drink

Preparing a special drink each morning has become a morning ritual that I won’t often skip, and I am very grateful that I have the time and space to do it. This drink can be different some mornings, but a select few always return. It’s a beautiful thing to wake up, open your eyes, and be thankful for another day. Stretch, meditate, smile. And start your morning ritual by preparing a nourishing drink to heal the body and mind. It might be different for everyone and might take a few tries to find out what works for you. To inspire you to maybe try out a few new ideas for each morning, I decided to write a little bit about my favorite drinks to wake up with. Keep in mind that some of these herbs might take a while of continuous use to notice an effect (although I feel that if you listen to your body – you start noticing subtle things quite quickly). Of course, always check certain herbs and their contraindications (especially when you are pregnant, breastfeeding, …), and safety precautions before adding them to your day. Although most of these herbs are very safe and easy to use and are probably also well-known to you already.

Warming & Stimulating Lemon Water

Something that I often enjoy in the early moments of the morning is hot water with lemon juice (inspired by Ayurvedic tradition, and the ginger-lemon-honey tea we often enjoyed in India) to gently wake up the stomach and get things going. I often combine my hot lemon water with turmeric (anti-inflammatory), black pepper (to activate the curcumin, the active compound in turmeric), ginger (anti-inflammatory and digestion aid), and on cold mornings: a pinch of cayenne pepper – a powerful and heating stimulant that boosts circulation and digestion.

As I mostly prefer to wake up my stomach with a hot water drink that is not caffeinated (no coffee, tea, yerba mate, …), this is what I prepare right after I wake up, and before I start to move my body through yoga asanas or stretching. I feel that this special drink wakes up my body, and gets everything moving and warmed up to start my day.

Healing Hot Milk

But later in the day, and definitely on colder days, there is something I often look forward to, which is to prepare a creamy, milky, latte-like drink. Made with (plant-based) milk – I prefer (homemade) oat milk at the moment – and combined with herbs such as raw cacao powder (rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals), ashwagandha (Ayurvedic herb, tonic, and adaptogenic abilities, reduces stress and anxiety), maca (used by the Incas to give energy and strength), matcha (powdered green tea, bursting with antioxidants and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals – providing clean energy for the body and mind), turmeric (powerful anti-inflammatory herb – combine with black pepper), cinnamon (warming and stimulating, boosts the circulatory and respiratory system). You can heat the milk, or first whip everything in hot water and then add a bit of milk, it’s up to you.

And often finishing with a scoop of raw honey to welcome in the antioxidants and antibacterial properties it contains. Of course, you can use any kind of sweetener you prefer. Another idea is masala chai, the spiced milk-tea they drink in India. It’s full of healing spices such as clove, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and so on. It’s made with black tea, which has plenty of antioxidants and helps you wake up in the morning. Leave out the black tea and add turmeric and you’ll have golden milk, again a drink that has its origins in Ayurveda and India.

Coffee

Of course, one of the most obvious and well-known morning drinks, enjoyed by many people around the world, is coffee. A steaming hot cup of coffee in the morning is definitely something I enjoy, but I’ve noticed that coffee is often more of a social drink for both me and Tim, and we drink it most often when we are camping, or staying with friends. While we were traveling with our van through the States, coffee was the perfect drink to accompany us on long rides and seemed to fit perfectly at that moment. I remember early, cold mornings in misty forests, when we were quickly cooking up a pot of coffee in our percolator, to enjoy the warmth of a cup and to fill the van with the heat of the stovetop. Or slow mornings with friends, sharing coffee, breakfast, music, laughter, … These are moments that I hold very dearly, and the drinking of coffee together has been an important part of that.

Coffee has medicinal benefits but is not for everybody. It’s widely over-consumed, which is probably not good for any herbal remedy. Coffee is a stimulant. It boosts energy, circulation, and digestion. For some people, a cup of coffee a day might work, but for others, it might not. People who have trouble sleeping or have anxiety issues probably won’t always benefit from even one cup of coffee a day. The important thing is (as always) to listen to your body, what does it say? 

Yerba Mate

Another drink that I greatly appreciate and enjoy is yerba mate, which was the thing I drank most in the mornings for a whole while. Not in South America, as some people will expect (as it’s an important drink in many South American countries) but in Malaysia. It’s made from the dried leaves of the yerba mate plant, native to South America. The plant is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and boosts energy and can improve mental focus, along with plenty of other benefits. It’s traditionally consumed through a tea straw called a bombilla and the cup is traditionally a dried calabash gourd.

These are just a few of my favorites, but I’m curious to hear some of yours! What is your favorite drink in the morning? Which healing herbs do you include in your morning ritual?

Sources

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

Herbs With Rosalee

Yerba Mate: Herb of The Week – Katja Swift

Healthy Coffee Benefits


White Sage – a Sacred, Purifying Herb

While driving down the steep roads of San Francisco, our van started making strange sounds. We did not want to spend the night somewhere parked on a busy city street, so we drove on, towards Monterey. The next day, the culprit turned out to be the front brakes, which had to be replaced. It cost us a good amount of money, but all was well with our little home so we were happy. Our day was spend strolling down the coastal pathway, up to Lovers Point, and enjoying the serenity of a sunny November day by the seashore. A street vendor, selling crystals at the Old Fishermen’s Wharf, had gifted us two Oregon sun stones he had found himself, two Rose Quartz (the stone of Love – because we had told him that it was our anniversary) and a bundle of White Sage. This bundle lasted us for the rest of our journey, and became an important part of our little daily rituals. We could turn to it to cleanse our mind and space of negative energy, and to give thanks to the Universe for guiding us on our path.

As mentioned in the previous post, there were many sacred plants that were used in Native American culture, and that are still used up to this day. These plants were used for various reasons, from herbal remedies, to ceremonies – where they were smoked or burned (smudging) – or to cook or bathe with.

White Sage (Salvia Apiana)

Even if you have never studied herbs, you probably have heard of sage. An herb that is well-known to people all around the world, and used for culinary or medicinal purposes. Many cultures use their local variety of sage, as there are more than 900 hundred different kinds to be found on our planet. The one that is most commonly used in Europe is Salvia Officinalis or common sage, native to the Mediterranean. 

White sage, or Salvia Apiana, is a variety of sage that is very important to many Native American tribes. It is a perennial, evergreen shrub, and is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It was used by tribes in this region, however, thanks to its wide variety of medicinal, spiritual, and practical uses, it quickly spread to other tribes across North America, and became an important part of Native American culture.

Traditional Use 

White sage purifies, cleanses, and strengthens the connection to the spirit world, and the Creator. The herb was ceremoniously harvested, dried, and burned afterward. The smoke was believed to carry up prayers to the Creator while cleansing the space and the people participating of negative energies, emotions, spirits. It was also used to enhance mental clarity and heighten one’s sense of awareness during these rituals, while inviting positive spirits and harmony. The burning of white sage was often offered to the Creator, or the Spirit World while calling upon them to support them in the healing or purifying ritual.

Culinary, some tribes enjoyed the nutritious benefits by including the leaves and stems of the white sage shrub in their diets, while other used the seeds. The seeds were ground up together with different ingredients to create a nutrient-rich powder that was the base of many different meals such as porridge.

Some native tribes used this versatile plant as an herbal hair or body wash. They did this by rubbing the leaves, together with water, in the palms of their hands.

Medicinal Powers

White sage is believed to be very powerful, supporting the overall health and vitality of the body. It balances, and soothes the body and soul. Known to have a positive effect on the nervous system, white sage can ease anxiety issues, sleep disorders, and other problems that can come forth out of an imbalance of the nervous system. It is also known to have strong antimicrobial properties, and therefore it was applied topically to heal wounds. The seeds were used to treat problems with the eyes, by inserting seeds underneath the eyelids throughout the night. In the morning they would remove the seeds, and the eyes would be cleansed of contaminants.

As a tea, it was often drunk by Native women to ease the painful symptoms connected to childbirth, or their moon time (menstruation). White sage was also used for relieving a sore throat, respiratory problems, digestive issues, or treating a cold or fever.

The Present Day Use of White Sage

Nowadays, white sage has become an important part of many rituals, for healing and spiritual purposes. There is nothing wrong with honoring all things that nature has gifted us, but sadly, as with many things that became popular (such as Palo Santo), white sage has been over harvested (due to non-ethical, non-sustainable harvesting methods). Therefore, if you would like to use white sage in your own rituals, it is wise to always get it from a source that ethically cultivates it, or grow it yourself if your climate allows it. When wild-harvesting, it is important to never take more than 20 % of any shrub in order to not damage the plant and its change to survive. It is good to be conscious about the scarcity of the plant, give thanks while harvesting, and not burn too much at once while using it during a ritual.

Sage is a mystical, powerful plant. With her ancient wisdom and healing powers, she’s a beautiful gift of Nature, important to many of our ancestors, and she continues to be important to many people today.

For burning/smudging, there are plenty of alternative herbs that you can use such as cedar, sweet grass, mugwort, lavender, and so much more. Chances are big that a post about all of these, and our experiences with it, will follow in the future!

Resources:

Sarah Outlaw – Sage throughout the ages

 Evan Sylliaasen – White Sage: Wisdom, Clarity, Cleansing

Robin DiPasquale – The Many Faces of Sage

https://ndnr.com/botanical-medicine/the-many-faces-of-salvia/