Every Night Counts: 5 Ways Quality Sleep is Critical for Our Brain Health

Black dog sleeping.
Image courtesy of Chris_69 on Pixabay

I don’t know one person who hasn’t had to slog through a day after a crappy night’s sleep.

I’ve done it more times than I can count, especially when I was younger.

Ambition, drive, accomplishment, and success are the bedrock of many lives. In pursuing these ‘virtues,’ our rest is the first thing to go.

Nowadays, it’s a badge of honor to be overtired, overworked, and overextended. And the more tired and stressed out you are? The better of a citizen you are deemed to be.

I used to believe and buy into this mindset too, and it served me for many years. I did accomplish a lot, but at what cost to my body?

All those late nights spent either working, socializing, or pursuing something meant I had to keep going to stay afloat and ahead. I was often tired, dragged out, and relied on caffeine to keep me going during long days.

After reading the chapter on sleep in Dr. Sunjay Gupta’s book, Keep Sharp, my eyes were opened to how valuable and necessary good quality sleep really is. There are many tasks the brain performs when we sleep and each compounds to add up to the quality of the following day.

Sleep deprivation causes a slew of problems and imbalances that affect all parts of our body and outlook.

The notion of ‘catching up on sleep over the weekend’ is false. Even one night of poor quality sleep does damage. We cannot ‘catch up’ on sleep.

Let’s keep in mind that all systems in the body are connected. We cannot eat poorly and expect to feel good. And we can’t lose sleep night after night and expect to feel high-functioning. It won’t work.

Below, I share five ways quality sleep and rest support, maintain, and improve our overall health, decreasing our risk for developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, and poor brain function in later life.

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Image courtesy of bongbabyhousevn on Pixabay

1. Quality sleep keeps our circadian rhythm in check.

Our sleep habits dictate our circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock responsible for our body secreting hormones and regulating body temperature.

What does hunger have to do with sleep? A lot, actually.

Did you know your hormone levels are deeply affected by your sleep patterns? The hormones responsible for telling us we’re hungry (ghrelin) and we’re full (leptin) become imbalanced with inadequate sleep. This throws off our appetite ‘schedule’ and can cause hunger at odd times (like right before you go to bed or in the middle of the night).

This, in turn, affects your weight, mood, and concentration, which compounds and spills over into every other system in the body, including how well your brain is functioning.

Even one night of poor sleep can put your circadian rhythm all out of whack, affecting hormone secretion at the proper times.

Our circadian rhythm is based on a solar day and resets roughly every 24 hours.

Ideally, people should rise and fall with the Sun. The invention of the lightbulb was the first culprit in changing people’s natural sleep rhythms since they could now work late into the night as well as attend evening and night events.

When I turned 40, I quickly noticed myself getting sleepier earlier in the evening and waking up earlier in the morning, but still feeling rested.

When we don’t get enough rest and our circadian rhythm gets altered, we usually reach for ‘quick fix’ energy like salty, sweet, and starchy foods.

These foods can cause inflammation and energy crashes, sending our brain into unnecessary stress cycles and adding to anxious feelings.

The next time you have a disrupted night of rest, remember that your hunger cues will be off and you might be more tempted to go for the sugar or processed carbs.

2. Quality sleep helps our overall memory.

All of us believe we remember events exactly how they occurred, but this is not necessarily true.

We remember events and experiences based on what is relevant and urgent to us.

Research has shown that our memories change over time as we ingest new information. Shockingly, old memories can become warped with overlaying new information, especially if it is similar to the older memory or experience. Wow!

A big component that affects our memory is our sleep quality.

Think about the last time your sleep quality was poor. I would bet money you felt that inevitable ‘brain fog.’ The stuff you needed to remember or recall just wasn’t sticking or available to you.

There’s a reason for this.

During sleep, our brain moves our memories around! This is called ‘sleep spindles’ and it involves the brain moving information from our hippocampus to the ‘hard drive’ of our neocortex:

One of the most recent theories about memory and sleep suggests that sleep helps us triage important memories to ensure we encode the most significant events in our brains. Sleep is essential for consolidating our memories and filing them away for later recall. Research is showing that brief bursts of brain activity during deep sleep, called sleep spindles, effectively move recent memories, including what we learned that day, from the short-term space of the hippocampus to the ‘hard drive’ of our neocortex. Sleep, in other words, cleans up the hippocampus so it can take in new information that it then processes.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Keep Sharp

Wow! No wonder we feel spacey and messy in our minds when our sleep is disrupted or poor quality. Our brain hasn’t been fully cleaned up from the previous day!

Without good sleep, this organization of our memories cannot occur. And without good sleep, just processing incoming information becomes a challenge because you have too much debris from the day before. Your interpreting equipment is not at full capacity.

And that’s not all. People with chronic sleep problems and fragmented sleep are more prone to developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

3. Quality sleep ‘washes’ our brain.

The brain has its own self-cleaning mechanism called the glymphatic system.

When we sleep, this system goes into overdrive, giving our brain a good cleansing of cellular debris and toxic waste.

But when we lose sleep, this function can’t complete and causes inflammation in the brain. This, in turn, allows beta-amyloid to accumulate, which is the protein associated with developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The glymphatic system gives our brain a good scrub and essentially ‘takes out the trash’ so it can keep functioning properly.

When we don’t get enough sleep, this ‘rinse cycle’ can’t occur, leading to more build-up of beta-amyloid plaque.

Chronic poor sleep is like allowing trash to accumulate in your kitchen garbage for weeks on end without any plan to take it out.

4. Quality sleep is medicine.

When one system in the body becomes imbalanced, it doesn’t take long for it to affect every other system and function.

Sleep is medicine because it heals and replenishes. It’s like a reset for all our autonomic functions which rely on the brain being responsive, rested, and cleansed of old information.

Just think about it: when we lose sleep it throws off our circadian rhythm, which affects our hormone secretions, including those for eating and resting.

When we start to eat poorly or go for ‘quick fix’ energy in the form of sugar and processed carbs, we risk weight gain and inflammation. This changes our mood, outlook, and ability to concentrate.

Weight gain can start to affect the heart, leading to poor circulation and less blood flow to the smaller blood vessels in the brain.

Lastly, when we try to fall asleep with an imbalanced circadian rhythm, we may experience restlessness, light sleep, poor sleep, or disrupted sleep, allowing the cycle to start all over again.

Quality sleep aids in all aspects of our health and is needed by every system to perform well. There is no benefit to losing sleep or pushing through when you are exhausted.

Going forward, start to make sleep your main priority and treat it as sacred – because it is.

5. Quality rest leads to quality sleep.

Do you give yourself breaks and rest throughout the day?

If not, I suggest you schedule some in because rest is just as beneficial as sleep.

But most of us don’t get enough of it in our waking hours.

Our brain takes in an incredible amount of stimuli as we go through the day. All of this has to be processed through the ‘croc brain’ or lizard brain, which filters through information and decides what is relevant and urgent to you.

All of this processing takes tons of physical energy, which is why so many of us fall back on unhealthy habits. Habits allow the brain to use less energy so it can keep you alive.

Rest strengthens our mental health and gives us a chance to clear our energy and come back to ourselves. This is especially true if we share a living space with other people.

Giving our brain these mini-breaks helps restore it to the responsive setting, or the ‘rest and digest’ setting. This means we will be more in tune with our higher brain functions like emotional connectivity, creative thinking and problem-solving, and processing highly detailed information, like a huge financial spreadsheet.

Breathing is one of the most effective ways to calm the brain down and return to a sense of peace and control. If you have not read Breath by James Nestor, I highly recommend it. Breathing is considered to be an automatic function, but it is so much more than that.

Make a point to rest throughout the day. You’ll feel better and be more focused and alert for the stuff you want to accomplish.

Rest can take many forms and should instill a feeling of peace:

  • closing your eyes and doing some steady breathing
  • meditating
  • practicing yoga or gentle stretching
  • sitting with your pet and connecting with them
  • smelling something pleasant and focusing on your senses
  • taking a walk or sitting in nature
  • listening to soothing music

As the day winds down, start to slow down so you prepare your body and mind for a restful night’s sleep.

How to Get the Best Sleep According to Your Ayurvedic Constitution

Herbs in a pestle and mortar.
Image courtesy of PhotoMIX Company on Pexels

I’m so grateful to have my friend and Ayurvedic practitioner, Keri Mangis, give us some information and suggestions for a great night of sleep. What follows is her advice and wisdom from the Ayurvedic teachings and practices. Thank you, Keri!

Much of the advice available on sleep takes a one-size-fits-all approach. However, Ayurveda understands that everyone’s sleep needs are, and in fact, should be, individual, as per their unique constitution. Before we get into the details, let’s start with an overview. 

Know Who You Are

In Ayurveda, a person’s constitution is called their dosha. Our dosha indicates the prominent characteristics that make up our mind and body. These characteristics flow from various combinations of the Five Great Elements (Pancha Mahabhuta). 

(While the best way to determine your dosha is via an assessment with an Ayurvedic practitioner, you can get a general direction by taking this simple quiz.)

Below are the three primary doshas:

  • Vata (Air/Ether) =  light, cold, and dry
  • Pitta (Fire) = light, hot, and dry
  • Kapha (Water/Earth) = heavy, cool, and damp

Vata Dosha and Sleep

People with Vata dosha move all day long like the wind itself [air + ether]. This makes them creative, enthusiastic, and, for better or worse, often lost in their imagination. As such, they need the most sleep of the three doshas, and yet, for them, sleep is often the most elusive. They often suffer from insomnia.

Therefore, Vata people need to start winding down early, around 6:00 pm, with habits and routines that cue the body and mind to begin settling. As their daily lives are often driven by spontaneity and impulsivity, they would benefit from a strict waking and bedtime. Ending the day with an evening meditation (such as the one provided in the link at the end) is an excellent way to calm Vata types.

Pitta Dosha and Sleep

Pitta doshas, due to the abundance of fire in their constitution, often have difficulty sleeping, often because they’re still working! And, perhaps, with an alcoholic beverage by their side. These habits increase the heat within their mind, preventing them from cooling down enough to get the rest they need.

Therefore, pitta types can help their sleep by staying cooler–both physically and emotionally—throughout the day. Learning how to manage stress, letting go when it’s called for, and other critical work/life balance skills are needed.

Pittas are advised to drink cooling teas, such as lavender, or specific bedtime tea blends, to help soothe and calm during the evening. They should sleep in light clothing without heavy coverings. If they wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work, it is helpful to keep a journal by the bed to write their thoughts down and remove the worry from the mind until the morning.

Kapha Dosha and Sleep

Kapha types, comprised of water and earth, are grounded individuals, well settled in their body, and generally have no trouble falling asleep, and sleeping well. But, they can often sleep too late into the morning, leading to a lasting sluggishness that is hard to shake off.

Therefore, kaphas are at their best when they wake before 6 am. Some tips to help with this include: setting a light timer, using alarm sounds that energize (not a shock!), or some gentle stretching to wake the body and mind.


How you move and think throughout the day impacts the kind of rest and rejuvenation you get at night. By knowing your Ayurvedic constitution, you can better make choices that will help you get the best sleep you can get.

Please enjoy this 11-minute guided audio to help any dosha type settle into that much-needed good night’s sleep.

Are you interested in an Ayurveda session with Keri to help with your sleep or overall health?

She’s also written an incredible memoir called Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness, which I highly recommend for any avid readers and spiritual seekers.

To contact Keri or order her book, please visit the following links:

Visit Keri’s website.

Order Keri’s stellar book.

Join Keri’s Substack newsletter.

Find Keri on social media:

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The Ego Is Not Your Enemy

Image of a brain suspended in a purple background.
Image courtesy of Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

If there is a scapegoat in the spiritual and psychological communities, it’s the ego.

As a spiritual practitioner, it breaks my heart to see and hear people speak about the ego in ways that are not serving them or their healing.

The relationship between the soul and the ego is the most misunderstood, miswritten, and misspoken concept in modern spirituality.

These misunderstandings are causing us to misinterpret how we connect to our deepest wisdom.

The soul and the ego are not in competition with one another – they were designed to work as a unit.

The more we separate the ego, judge it as this awful part of ourselves (shadow self), and continuously call it out as bad, wrong, or evil, the worse we will feel.

The ego wants one thing: to feel safe, good, and loved.

Why is the ego so misunderstood?

Like many of you, I read a lot of misleading and negative analyses of the ego. The more I read, the more separated from myself I felt. None of it resonated with me until I met a spiritual channeler and psychic medium who explained the ego (and its function) in a way I had never heard before.

What she taught me blew my mind (and my ego!) and gave me better tools to deal with life’s daily influence of information and energy.

First, let’s establish a few things so we are all on the same page:

  • The soul created the ego to experience the physical reality – we cannot exist here or experience ourselves as separate beings without it.
  • The ego is not a person or your ‘personality’ (this is built through conditioning).
  • The ego is not a creative force. The soul is always in charge, no matter how much it may allow the ego to ‘wander.’ The soul is eternal, so it’s got some time for meandering.

The use of ‘ego’ in culture and history.

The word ‘ego’ has been used in many different contexts to describe human consciousness.

Freud saw it as the conscious part of ourselves that is the mediator between the id (our instinctual self) and the superego (moral conscience).

Spiritual leaders in New Age culture have deemed it our ‘shadow self‘ and have warned us to stop listening to it. Yikes!

In science, the ‘seat’ of the ego lives in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (huh?) and the Fronto-insular Cortex (what?) part of the brain. Where is that? It’s in the frontal lobe, which is responsible for cognitive functions such as memory, emotions, impulse control, problem-solving, social interaction, and motor function.

We also use the word to describe someone’s behavior, “They are so egotistical!”

No wonder we are all confused as to the function, role, and usefulness of this part of our brain, psyche, and consciousness.

The ego is not your enemy, nor does it want to do you harm. The ego is self-protecting and self-preserving and the way it learned to protect itself was through childhood conditioning, specifically from ages 0-7 years old.

The ego wants you alive and it will use what it learned to reach that goal.

The Ego’s Two Main Functions

By now, you’re probably wondering what is the role of the ego?

Let’s break it down.

The ego has two main functions: one is to keep you alive (fight/flight/freeze), and the other is to give you the experience of being a separate individual in this reality. It also allows you to experience other people as separate from you.

The ego is ‘expressing’ one of two perspectives at any given moment:

  • our soul’s guidance, or what the soul wants to express in this lifetime or any given moment; or
  • our conditioning, or what we learned in the reality from childhood

These are the two states we are always choosing between:

  • what do we intuitively feel we want versus
  • what we’ve been taught we should want, be, do, or have

Not everything we learned through conditioning is harmful, dis-resonant, or unhelpful. Many things we learned keep us safe. The work is to decipher what is useful to you now (and who you are as a person) and what isn’t.

It’s important to understand this: everything (divine guidance and your learned stuff) passes through the ego.

It’s a misnomer that we are either ‘in our soul’ or ‘in our ego.’ You’re always in both.

The difference is where to ego is pointing or what it is looking for. We have to ‘tune’ it, so to speak. This is why affirmations and mantras can be powerful tools – they retrain the ego.

When people say, “They are in their ego,” or “He’s just coming from his big ego,” what they are trying to articulate is, “They are coming from a fear response, a stress cycle, or their survival instinct.”

We are always ‘in our ego’ because that’s how we receive and interpret information.

The way the ego defends itself was learned through conditioning and the environment it mimicked.

If someone is mean, cruel, or nasty when their survival is threatened or they are coming from a conditioned point of view, it’s because that’s how their ego learned to defend itself and keep them alive.

Some people scream and yell, some people stonewall, some people pick a fight, and some people withdraw completely when their fear response is triggered. It’s all based on how their ego learned to get out of danger and back to a safe place – either physically, emotionally, or psychologically.

The ego’s job is to work in contrast. This is so we can distinguish between a car and a knife. It also shows us limits, like how far the coffee shop is from our house or how much time we have before we die.

Contrary to popular belief, the ego is not judging – it’s discerning.

The energy of judgment comes from conditioning; what the ego has been taught is considered good, bad, right, wrong, acceptable, and not acceptable.

“I would like an apple and not an orange,” is different from, “I would like an apple because an orange is bad.”

You cannot experience an ‘ego death’ and remain alive in the reality. This is another spiritual myth that is mired in subtle reinforcement of separation, which will always make us feel unbalanced and disconnected.

The ego is a part of you – you cannot separate from it or wish it away and feel okay.

We cannot survive in or relate to the physical reality without the ego. We experience everything (even ‘divine guidance’) through the ego.

If it helps, think of the ego as the soul’s ‘interface.’ Another way to think of it is as a translator.

What does the ego do, exactly?

Bird statue looking through a book.
Image courtesy of MonikaP on Pixabay

We can think of the ego in three ways or having three jobs:

  • As a filter
  • Like a radio receiver, with two stations
  • As a software program on a computer

Let’s talk about each one.

1. The ego is a filter.

It’s been trained (by conditioning) to look out for what is relevant to our experience.

Our reticular activating system (RAS) is formed through bias and what we were taught is good, bad, right, or wrong. Our RAS is a chooser and a filter in and of itself. It is the way we decide what is relevant to us and what we focus on.

As you move through your day, your ego is on the lookout for what is relevant to you, even if it isn’t ‘positive.’

‘Relevant’ can be what you learned, even if it doesn’t make you feel good.

This is how you pick and choose what you focus on — whether it moves you forward or drags you down.

Because the ego is something that is trained, it does what it knows until it learns something else. Conditioning trained your filter, so you have become aware of what your filter is ‘set to.’

Think of it like this: if you were wearing a pair of red-tinted glasses, the whole world would look like some shade of red to you no matter what you were looking at.

It’s our job to recognize what filter we are set to and change it if it doesn’t feel good.

2. The ego is a radio receiver with two stations: inward and outward.

When we tune our ego inward, we connect to infinity, to all the solutions we will ever need, and to all our endless wisdom. We connect to our deepest intuition, which doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. These are those moments in which you just ‘know.’

When we tune our ego outward, we connect with all the other egos in the collective consciousness. Wowza. That’s a lot of noise!

Tuning our ego outward is not bad or wrong, but it probably won’t feel that great because so much of the information you pick up is not relevant to you or your situation. While some of it may feel very familiar, it is mostly unhelpful. This is why our egos feel buzzy when we’ve been coming too much from the head.

Think of being in an extremely loud restaurant and someone is trying to tell you a story. You would be struggling to hear because of all the other feedback. That feedback is why our heads feel ‘noisy.’

3. The ego is like a software program on a computer.

A software program is neutral until someone starts telling it what to do and how to do it.

Conditioning is like writing the software. Conditioning (most prevalent from ages 0–7 years old because of brain waves) tells the ego, “Believe this and disregard that. Love this and hate that. Get angry when this happens, and become lovable when this happens. Choose blue, not red. This is good, and this is bad.”

We need to focus on the conditioning, not on how ‘bad’ the ego is. The ego is merely doing the job it was assigned (by the soul) to do. It’s gathering info and communicating it to us.

Think of your computer.

The hardware itself is your body, the vessel that holds the nuts and bolts and chips. The operating system is your soul. It’s the mothership — it’s steering this whole thing and it always has control. Nothing in the computer can work without the operating system. The software (or the different programs) on the computer is the ego. The software is written by someone outside of you. For this example, the computer programmer and in the big picture, your family and society.

Conditioning writes the ego’s software and tells it what programs to run.

This is why it’s important to know that you can change your programming. You can choose differently if you don’t like something your ego has learned.

Let’s talk about divine guidance and hearing our intuition.

Art image of a person meditating.
Image courtesy of RuiDanielBarros on Pixabay

The ego is the way we interpret information — from our soul and the reality.

The reason many folks believe that the soul and ego work separately (or are in competition) is the language we use around hearing or being aware of our intuition.

Your ego is just as involved as your soul when you get a hit of intuition. The ego is the mechanism that is interpreting your soul’s messages.

Remember, the ego is a translator. It’s the big screen that the messages appear on in your mind.

Here’s another example, to help your ego comprehend these concepts.

Let’s say you’re walking your dog. You represent your soul — you’re in charge, always. (And, yes, I know, I know, the dog is actually in charge and we spoil them and would do anything for them, but just stay with me for a minute).

Your dog represents your ego. It gets excited, then starts to sniff, then gets distracted by a bird, then looks at you, then sees another dog and goes berzerk. And that’s pretty much how the walk goes.

But once the dog does something or focuses on something you don’t want to do or don’t want them to go after (or is dangerous to its safety/existence), you pull them back and start again.

That is the power and influence of the soul over the ego. It created the ego, and it calls the shots.

The soul is always in charge, but allows the ego to play, wander, and be curious.

When you tune your ego inward, like we talked about above, we can hear easy, simple guidance to our problem or situation. Divine guidance will always be a doable step like drinking some water, taking some breaths, or calling a friend.

When you tune your ego outward (or get ‘in your head’), you pick up on all the thoughts, energy, and interference from everyone else in ego consciousness. This is not bad or wrong, it’s just not as helpful as tuning inward.

When we tune outward, the guidance is stressful, and too complex, while also creating a sense of rushing towards a train that’s already left the station.

Guidance when tuned inward is simple and feels like deep relief.

Why is it so hard to deal with the ego?

The ego is an amazing storyteller. It has records that go way the hell back, even from previous lifetimes (if you believe in that sort of thing).

The reason energy sticks around, especially energy that doesn’t make us feel good, is that the ego has concocted a story about it and then tells it to us over and over.

The trick is to be conscious of what your ego is focused on and then ask yourself if it feels good to you. If it doesn’t, change the filter! Focus the ego inward so you can hear what your soul wants to tell you.

Another reason it’s difficult to deal with the ego is all the false languaging and messaging we’ve been taught.

Remember this and you’ll feel better than most folks on the planet: you are allowed to feel good and the ego is one gateway to feeling good, depending on where you’re pointing it.

The ego’s main goal is to feel safe, good, and loved. Just like a small child.

Your ego wants your attention and affection. It’s there to help you – to quite literally keep you alive. The better we learn to talk about it and to it, the more in alignment we will feel.

Final Thoughts on the Ego

I hope this article has helped your understanding of how you can have a more healthy, peaceful, and positive relationship with your ego.

The ego isn’t going anywhere, so we may as well become better listeners and observers of where we are placing our attention.

Tune your ego and set its dial. Take note of what doesn’t feel good or what thoughts you were conditioned to think that do not help you. Those are thoughts and patterns you have the power to change.

The next time you hear someone say, “They are in their ego!”, you can correct them and remind them that yes, of course, they are in their ego because we all are. The ego serves as a way to hear all the stimuli that are coming into our experience.

The ego is truly your friend, but society and New Age spirituality have made it our enemy.

Change the conversation and you’ll experience more peace, bliss, and in alignment actions.

Have a question or need some clarification? Drop a comment!

I’m happy to help everyone who wants a better relationship and experience with their ego.

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A 5-Step Morning Routine to Point Your Brain in the Right Direction

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Image courtesy of Ryan McGuire on Pixabay

Our experience of the world is being sourced from one place: our brain.

Our brain is a magnificent organ and the more I learn about it, the more I am in awe.

When we first wake up, we have an opportunity to set the dial for our brain and tell it what to focus on.

The brain will fall back on familiar patterns (habits) to preserve energy. This is why it is imperative to have a set morning routine that helps us focus.

Having a routine doesn’t have to be boring or a drag. As Jeff Olson says in The Slight Edge, “The price of neglect is worse than the price of discipline.”

Having discipline in the morning will help set the tone for the rest of the day and really, the rest of your life.

It’s powerful and worth the 10-15 minutes to sit, settle, ground, and intend.

Below are five morning routine ideas focusing on the brain. Take what resonates and leave the rest.

1. Take six steady breaths in the nose and out the mouth.

In John Assaraf’s book Innercise, he talks about the restorative power of taking six steady breaths in the nose and out the mouth, like you are blowing out of a straw.

This ‘calms the brain circuits’ and deactivates the stress response in the brain, thereby restoring the body to the ‘rest & digest’ setting.

Starting your day with these six breaths is not only relaxing, it tells the brain you’re safe. Now, you can focus on creative solutions, positive associations, and an overall better mood.

Speaking of breath, if you have not read James Nestor’s book entitled Breath, I highly recommend it.

Breathing is widely considered to be an autonomic function, but it is also a powerful healing modality that few people know about or tap into.

The way we breathe affects every aspect of our health. To know more about it will open your eyes to the beautiful design of the human body and how you have more control and say over your health than you’ve been told.

Breath is life, so take six conscious breaths in the nose and out the mouth before you do anything else.

2. Ask yourself what you want to focus on for the day.

Do you want to focus on feeling good? Following your intuition more? Being a better listener and communicator? Completing tasks for a big project?

Choose something that sets a theme for your day. There will be lots of details and things you need to take care of, but you can have this constant focus in the back of your mind that helps you to make better decisions, know where to place your time, and know what to leave for later.

Focusing on a larger theme or goal for the day also helps you avoid spending time on tasks you don’t truly resonate with or don’t make you feel good.

Now, you can check in throughout the day and ask, “Is this in alignment with my bigger theme today? Will this make me feel good?”

Mindset work must be done throughout the day because of all the distractions, old programming, and unconscious habits we fall back into so the brain can preserve energy.

3. Read your goals.

Do you have a list of long-term goals?

If not, I suggest you make one because it’s essential to setting your brain’s dial.

Reading your goals every morning (and every night, too!) is helping your neural networks form stronger connections and therefore, helping you fall back on those new, positive habits associated with the things you most want to achieve or experience in life.

You’ve been practicing habits and cycles of thought for so long, and most of them are probably unconscious to you.

When you read goals and define them, your brain helps you out. It starts looking for ways you could achieve these new goals by honing in on anything relevant to them.

The reticular activating system is hard at work scanning for anything that could be useful or helpful to get you what you want.

Reading goals also creates excitement about them over and over and triggers novelty in the brain, sparking a desire to take action.

See how powerful the brain is?

4. Connect to your inner wisdom, guidance, and intuition.

You don’t have to be spiritual to connect to intuition.

This is a gift everyone possesses and few people use and access it well.

Most people live in their heads all day long, disconnected from the body where all intuition comes from.

Connect down into the earth and feel into the body.

New research is finding that we feel decisions in our body, not our mind. The gut is called “the second brain” because of the 100 million neurons lining the digestive tract.

It’s important to make a conscious point to connect with your intuition and ask it to speak up and show you the way with clear, easy steps.

Divine intuition or inner wisdom will always give you a simple step within reach like drinking a glass of water, taking a nap, or texting a friend.

Many people say they don’t get their prayers answered because they’re too busy looking for them to manifest the way they want and then miss an opportunity.

Most people are looking for those big moments when the Universe will swoop in and save them!

But intuition works in the present moment and it will look like very small steps.

Your intuition will lead you to what you want through the path of least resistance and that may look different than your version or idea.

A good way to get in touch with your intuition quickly is to connect to the pelvic bowl so that you consciously send your energy down.

Grounding will help you hear your intuition because all intuition comes from the body, even if you experience it as a conscious thought.

There is a feeling of “rightness” and relief in the gut.

5. Do five minutes of brain training.

Do you know what neural linking is?

It’s a technique to help you feel emotionally connected to short-term and long-term goals so you can take actions that are in alignment with achieving them.

Most of us are lazy thinkers. We fall back on patterns because the brain is trying to preserve energy.

When we make a conscious effort to think about the things we want, measurable physiological changes happen in the brain to help us achieve those experiences.

Neural linking works like this.

Think about something you really want – it could be a loving relationship, an awesome job you’re after, or to feel more peace throughout your day.

Hold that in your mind and notice how it makes you feel – in your body, soul, gut, and mind.

Now, think of your favorite person, color, animal, or sound – anything that has a positive association for you. It can be an experience, a smell, or something as simple as a flower you like.

As you think of this positive association during or right after you think about your goal, you are linking neurons and making them stronger in relation to your desire.

As you create this new neural connection and then recall an already existing neural connection that makes you feel good, you are creating positive emotions in association with your goal and this makes it easier to become excited about it and take action.

Dopamine gets released in the brain, the hormone connected to the promise of a reward.

Now, you have dopamine coursing through your brain, igniting the spark to take actions that will help you attain that experience or thing you want.

Do this every day and watch what happens to your habits, time, and mood. 

And the best thing about brain training? It’s completely free and can be done whenever you decide. 

There are a wealth of brain training games and techniques you can find online.

Five Benefits of a Morning Routine

Coffee cup and coffee maker.
Image courtesy of fancycrave1 on Pixabay

Once you decide on the morning routine that feels best, you’ll want to look out for these five benefits: 

1. Better focus. 

Start to notice what thoughts you repeatedly ‘fall back’ on and if those patterns are changing – even slightly. 

Remember, small habits compound to deliver amazing results. 

Your focus will be more in alignment with those things and experiences you truly want because you will be practicing that ‘lens’ more consistently. 

Instead of seeing lack, you will start to see abundance because you’re clear on your goals and desires. 

2. Better or improved mood. 

Consciously connecting and focusing on what you want during your morning routine releases these yummy hormones: dopamine (the promise of a reward), oxytocin (the love/bonding juice), and endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers). 

The result? You start the day in a better mood, which will keep you focused on what’s working, which is what I talk about next. 

3. More awareness of what’s working. 

A routine is like a primer for our minds to focus on what feels good and what is working. 

Routines also inform our reticular activating system, which I mentioned above. 

This is a collection of nerves in the brain stem that cause alertness, awareness, and awakening when stimulated. 

Your RAS is scanning for what is relevant and urgent to you. 

If you desire a blue car, your RAS will hone in on blue cars because that is now relevant to you. 

If you hear a scream in a parking lot, your RAS alerts you that something could be urgent and dangerous. 

When you tell your brain what to focus on (feeling good, an awesome new job, or being more at peace), your RAS will start looking for those things because now, they are relevant to you. 

You’ve made them relevant. 

This means, your dial will be tuned to what’s working and by focusing on that, you will create more of what you want by consistently taking small steps that will compound over time. 

4. Less anxiety throughout the day. 

If you start to breathe better, you’ll start to experience less anxiety. 

Some of the latest research is finding that anxiety may not exclusively be a mental health issue, it could also be a physical one buried deep in the brain. 

The chemoreceptors in our brain stem talk to the lungs and tell them when to take a breath.  

The impetus we feel to breathe is based on the pH level in our blood – which goes up or down based on our carbon dioxide levels. 

Carbon dioxide levels change based on the quality of our breathing –  fast, slow, steady, or shallow. 

So, you see, if you uplevel your breathing, you’ll rebalance those chemoreceptors. 

James Nestor, the author of Breath, explains:

The nagging need to breath is activated from a cluster of neurons called the central chemoreceptors, located at the base of the brain stem.

When we’re breathing too slowly and carbon dioxide levels rise, the central chempreceptors monitor these changes and send alarm signals to the brain, telling our lungs to breathe faster and more deeply.

When we’re breathing too quickly, these chemoreceptors direct the body to breathe more slowly to increase carbon dioxide levels. This is how our bodies determine how fast and how often we breathe, not by the amount of oxygen, but by the level of carbon dioxide.

James Nestor, Author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

5. More resilience to deal with challenges. 

Training your brain to focus on solutions and abundance will help you shoulder challenges and setbacks with more ease. 

When you come across a challenge, your brain responds and triggers your fight/flight/freeze response. 

This blocks your higher brain functions, logic, and creative solutions. 

Many circumstances that cause our stress cycle to be activated are not immediately life-threatening, although they may feel that way. 

Furthermore, because our stress cycles have been evolving to keep up with technology, crowded populations, and more things to accomplish in modern life, some people have chronic stress cycle responses which wear down the vagus nerve, causing poor vagal tone.

Poor vagal tone is linked to the inability to ‘bounce back’ after the stressor has passed because the body hasn’t completed the stress cycle and told the brain it’s safe. 

When we train the brain to separate real threats from conditioned responses, we create resilience for ourselves. 

We are able to complete stress cycles with more confidence and awareness. And we can separate a real life-threatening situation from one that is merely happening in our minds. 

Is an angry text from a loved one stressful? Of course, it is. 

But it’s not life-threatening and you have the power to remind yourself of that. 

Resilience also includes being in full awareness of when we are in a stress cycle and making a conscious effort to complete it. 

This must involve something physical – dancing, screaming, punching a pillow, or going for a run. 

For more information on stress cycles and completing them, I recommend the book Burnout by Amelia Nagoski & Emily Nagoski and the book How to Do the Work by Dr. Nicole LePera.

Having a morning routine (and an evening one) is a powerful technique for our psyche, mindset, and stress levels.

Whatever you do, do something in the morning to help yourself have a better experience throughout the day.

A resonant routine will improve all areas of your life because you are starting with the most influential part of your body: your brain.

What helps you feel calm or centered in the morning? Do you have a set routine?

Leave me a comment and I’ll feature you in another blog post about morning routine ideas!

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