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


Native American Healing Traditions

While traveling through the United States, we often thought about the native tribes who wandered freely through the forests and plains, just a few centuries ago. We wondered how they lived, traveled, what they ate and how they maintained their health throughout all of this. Luckily, we met people who could give us an idea about their way of living, their beliefs and their traditions, and thanks to the vast amount of knowledge on the internet, we could explore their traditions even further.

Healing and Balance

According to Native Americans, everything in our world is connected and to maintain well-being, in oneself and the community, it was important to find balance. An imbalance was often considered to be the reason why one was ill. During healing rituals, they sought to regain balance between the spiritual world, the community, the environment and oneself.

Rituals

Ceremonies were held for various reasons such as birth, death, or the success of a harvest. There were also important healing ceremonies, used to restore balance in the community. During those ceremonies, the community came together to sing and dance, and they were often accompanied by drums and the use of sacred (sometimes psychoactive) plants.

Purifying the body was a part of the healing process, and therefore building a sweat lodge was an important ritual in many tribes. A sweat lodge is a small structure, made of pliable young trees or branches and covered with blankets or tarps (earlier, they used animal skin). A pit inside the lodge was filled with hot stones, and water was poured over them, filling the lodge with steam. It was a ritual to purify and release, to sing, to pray, to connect with the spirit world, and the other participants.

Another tradition in some tribes was the use of a moon lodge, a structure build for the women of the tribe who were in their Moon Time (menstruation). A place for them to rest and regenerate, where they could be alone or together with their sisters of the tribe. Their family obligations were lifted from them, for as long as they retreated inside the lodge, and men were not allowed inside. It was a place for healing, connecting to each other and to the moon and the earth.

These beliefs and traditions vary from tribe to tribe, but a lot of similarities can be found between them. A great deal of these methods are still used today by several tribes, often combined with modern, allopathic medicine.

The Use of Healing Plants

The healers of the tribes combined the healing powers of plants with their connection to the spirit world. Plants were viewed as brothers and sisters and treated with respect. The healers asked permission to use the herb and expressed their gratitude when harvesting and preparing the medicine. These sacred herbs were used as herbal remedies, or as part of ceremonies, where they were smoked or burned.

It is said that Native Americans learned about the medicinal powers of certain herbs by observing animals such as deer or elk. They noticed that these animals ate specific plants when they were ill, and recovered after. The Native Americans understood that the plants must have some sort of medicinal benefits and started experimenting with them. Herbal wisdom was passed on from generation to generation until extensive knowledge was gathered on more than five hundred healing plants!

Balance of body and spirit is something very important in native healing traditions, and often forgot in modern medicine. An illness is seen as just that, and medicine is taken to suppress symptoms as quickly as possible, instead of listening to the body and working together towards healing. But times, they are a-changing! More and more people are interested in the wonders of traditional medicine and are learning to listen to what their body is telling them. After all, our body carries us wherever we need to go, bears the burden that we often put upon it and supports us throughout our lives, and it is something wonderful to honor this.

Resources:

Kathy Weiser – Native American Medicine https://www.legendsofamerica.com/na-medicine/

Mary Koithan and Cynthia Farrell – Indigenous Native American Healing Traditions https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913884/

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