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


Soaking in Hot Springs – a Relaxing and Restorative Ritual

Without water, life can’t exist. Water is essential to life. In ancient times, humans rapidly learned this, and the first civilizations often settled near the ocean, rivers, or other bodies of water. Due to its importance, water was often believed to be sacred and in many cultures bathing in these holy waters could heal and purify one’s body and soul. For example, the Ganga river is very important in Hinduism and is a place where many people come together to bathe and meditate. We’ve done meditation practices in the Ganga river ourselves when we were in Rishikesh, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the river just descends out of the mountains and where it is still crystal clear and ice cold. Those meditation exercises were up to this day still one of the most transcendental experiences we’ve ever had and the cold water energized our bodies and quieted our minds. 

The History of Healing with Water

 In both Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, hot and cold water (sometimes infused with herbs) are an essential part of many healing rituals. In ancient Egypt water was used for maintaining hygiene and beauty, and herbs were also often added to baths to infuse them with therapeutic components. The studying of the healing qualities of water began in ancient Greece, where philosophers like Plato and Hippocrates studied the benefits and called it hydrotherapy (water cure). Later, the ancient Romans followed in their footsteps, and bathing became of great importance to their culture too. Since the beginning of the Roman empire, they made use of baths which they called balnea. These could be private in their homes, which was mostly for the elite, or communal. After the building of aqueducts and gaining the ability to move water from the outside to the inside of the city, these baths became huge centers called thermae and these became a major destination for social gatherings, often having gardens, libraries, and so forth. These baths were not only meant as a place for a social or relaxing experience but were also used for their therapeutic benefits and served as a place where wounded soldiers could come and rest. In modern times, bathing in hot and cold water is a big part of all cultures around the world, both for hygienic and therapeutic purposes.

Hot Springs

On our journey through the mid-west and western United States, many things brought feelings of wonder and joy. The astounding views on the open road, the music, and of course, the numerous hot springs. From the Californian high desert to the magical Oregon forests, we visited as many hot springs as we could. They provided the warmth and relaxation that was often missed on a cold winter night, sleeping in a van. Many hot springs that we visited were secluded and quiet and we often had moments where we were soaking alone in sacred waters on a full moon night. 

Hot springs were of great significance to many Native American tribes, who thought of it as sacred grounds and often as a place where the Great Spirit lived. The healing waters were used by tribes as a place to retreat and rest. Tribes that were at war ceased fighting when entering these neutral grounds, honoring the sacredness of the land and the Earth.

Hot springs, picture by Matt Palmer.

Healing Abilities of Hot Springs

There are plenty of reasons why one enjoys being in a hot spring. It is a natural pool provided with warm mineral-rich water from the Earth. Relaxing and restorative. But it is not only the comfort or beauty of taking a hot bath, in the middle of a forest or desert, that makes it a wonderful experience. Many health benefits come with enjoying the waters of a hydrothermal spring. 

Soaking in hot springs can relax the body and mind and at the same time, (thanks to the heat) our pores open, and the minerals that are present in the water get absorbed. Calcium, sodium bicarbonate, sulfur, magnesium, silica, lithium are just a few of the minerals that can be found in natural hot springs.

The heat of the water, and the weightlessness the body has while in it, may relieve musculoskeletal problems such as tense and sore muscles, symptoms of arthritis, and more. Many of these minerals can improve blood circulation, carrying more nutrients and oxygen around, and eliminating toxins from the body. Minerals such as magnesium, potassium, sulfur and silica can help nurture the skin and relieve symptoms of skin issues such as eczema. The steam of the hot water may relieve nasal congestion.

If there is no natural hot spring to be found near your home, but you do have a bathtub, you can find many things to make your own healing bath at home. There are various herbs, salt, clay, or essential oils that all provide therapeutic effects and have the ability to soothe your body and mind, and unwind from your day. 

The Powers of Relaxation

In modern society, being able to relax is often a problem with work, school, or other obligations that worry the mind. Long-term stress can weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and more. It is essential to find a way to let go of these worries and unwind, and finding your way to do this can be different for each individual. You might want to listen to calming music, meditate, go for a walk in Nature, do breathing exercises, or soak in hot, healing water. Allow yourself to have these loving, quiet moments to tune in and be aware of your body and mind.  

Resources:

History of the Baths and Thermal Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535692/#ref1

John W. Lund – Historical Impacts of Geothermal Resources on The People of North America https://oregontechsfstatic.azureedge.net/sitefinity-production/docs/default-source/geoheat-center-documents/quarterly-bulletin/vol-16/art2.pdf?sfvrsn=4b3f8d60_4