Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Rise and Shine!

What’s your first thought when you open your eyes in the morning?

Have your ever been immediately captivated by the mood, thought, or emotion that dominated your mind when you fell asleep?

Or spontaneously drawn ahead, into the plans and activities of the day?

Our first thoughts and actions of the day are potent.  They contain the power to influence the next 24 hours.  Here’s an alternative to being enslaved by whatever pops into your mind as you awaken.

In a recent public talk, the Dalai Lama shared what he does when he wakes up each morning, at 3:00 am no less!

The Dalai Lama reflects on infinite altruism and interdependence. 

A Simple Morning Exercise to Transform Your Day

When speaking to students in Limerick, Ireland the Dalai Lama offered this essential advice – a simple daily exercise – to start off the day with a positive attitude.

  1. Reflect on and cultivate compassion.
  2. Look at the world from the view that everything is interdependent and interconnected.

He recommends reflecting on these ideas and qualities each morning.  Spending a few moments actually thinking about them, investigating their common sense, and bringing them to life.  For example, consider the fact that there are 6 billion people living on the planet and they all have the seed of compassion within them.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all gave birth to compassion?

By consistently reflecting on these ideas, you will gradually come to have a conviction about the importance of positive inner values like kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.  You will be able to see that these qualities are the basis for helping others, but they also uplift you too.  This will naturally lead to more peace of mind, a crucial quality in these chaotic times.


Determination is another key element in the Dalai Lama’s morning exercise.  After cultivating a mind filled with altruism and considering interdependence, even before the crack of dawn, the Dalai Lama then arouses a strong sense of determination:

“For the rest of the day, I will dedicate my body, speech, and mind to the welfare of others.”

By embracing these simple reflections every morning, he observes there’s a beneficial knock-on effect all day long and even in his dreams.

Our thoughts have power!  You can deploy this capacity for goodness and your own inner peace by shaping your intention and motivation early each and every day, as soon as you wake up.

What’s your mind like in the morning?  Do you have a positive morning ritual?

If you enjoyed this article, please share the link with others.  Illuminations from the Heart, my new subscription letter starts this weekend.  Check it out.   With love, Sandra.


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  1. Beautiful!

    I have a startup routine that works well for me:
    – Wake up, throw my shoes on, run
    – Shower and relax
    – Eat breakfast by the window and ponder the possibilities
    – Take the back way to work and identify three wins I want for the day

    This sets the stage and helps me drive my day (or the day drives me.)

    • Thanks!

      Sounds like you don’t start the mind first thing in the morning, but jump right into the body! I like the way you drive your day.

  2. Donna

    My first thought is usually-thank you for the gift of this day-may I use it well. That sets my intention for the day and then I do yoga. Whatever comes up during the day I can deal with if I’ve had my quiet time.

  3. Metod

    Sandra, what a great post! So true, our first thoughts in the morning are so important. I find that they set the mood for the whole day. I used to have habit waking up really early (5 am) and can honestly say that my days were happier and more productive. I loved the tranquillity and silence of the early hours when one almost can think that time stands still and can contemplate what the day might bring. I would usually just drink my tea and look through the window. Or better yet, grabbed my camera and run outside to capture the magic of the sunrise.
    I say “used to” as I find waking up early hard these days having young child. But I’m working on it in small steps to have that important “alone time” before anybody else wakes up in the house.

  4. What an eloquent description of the joys of early morning solitude. It is challenging to find your alone time when you have young children. I find “small steps” always the smart way to take a leap. I wish the best of luck with this! Thanks so much for your comment.

  5. Hi Sandra,

    I don’t have a morning ritual. But I have gone to bed with a burning desire to do something when I get up the next day. And sure enough, not only do I require less sleep than usual, I awake with the same drive to get my obsession done. This does not happen too often, but when it does, I can work for days on end with little sleep.

    I like how the Dalai Lama encourages us to remember that everything is interdependent and interconnected. It is so easy to forget this and feel alone as we go about our daily lives. And because we lack this awareness, our actions, words and choices are less in tune with the Universe. Who knows what kind of chain of events we can set off without being fully aware of the consequences of our actions?

    It certainly does not require too much effort to reflect on compassion and to remind myself that everything is interdependent and interconnected when I wake up.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

  6. Hi Irving,

    It’s interesting how a thought or an idea can capture us in this way. Sometimes that’s can be very positive.

    I love this question you put forth: “Who knows what kind of chain of events we can set off without being fully aware of the consequences of our actions?” This is an important reflection in and of itself.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  7. I try to remember to say a prayer, often the Lord’s Prayer, or my own variation of it, before I open my eyes in the morning, just as I come into consciousness. I do a little belly breathing and stretching in the bed. Once I’m up, I get some juice and then do a few yoga stretches. Some meditation and prayer. Then breakfast. I’m a creature of habit, so this usually gets my day off to a good start.

    It’s interesting to hear about the Dalai Lama’s routine and others. What’s yours?

    • Galen,

      That’s a very inspiring routine! I focus on meditation (of one sort or another) as soon as I open my eyes, making aspirations as the Dalai Lama suggests. I’ve also been focusing on some breathing meditation. I have to interrupt the routine to feed the cats, but then I’m back and on my cushion finishing my practices. I finish it off with some prostrations. I also might do a bit of jin shin jyitusu, a healing modality that involves holding points in different place of the body.

      I’m quite sure the Dalai Lama does much more than this, for example he meditates on emptiness everyday. But this was advice to college students who were asking about an essential practice.

      Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your morning. It sounds peaceful and nourishing.

  8. Gakusan Terry Sutton

    I’m grateful for this posting, Sandra, as you have reminded me of the mindfulness gatha and old friend, “Waking up in the morning, I know this day is just for me! I vow to live it fully and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

  9. I love this gatha! Thank you for sharing it with us. Is it from Thich Nhat Hanh?

  10. Love this post…. and I resonate with it so deeply! The energy of my entire day is impacted by what I do in the morning. Over the years, I’ve developed a ritual that I do, though to be honest with you there are days that I’m a total slug and make a cup of coffee and lay in bed with my laptop. But… on other days, I do this:

    * walk my dog (short walk)
    * sit down in front of my home altar, light a candle and some incense (along with the incense offering gatha from Thich Nhat Hanh)
    * practice zazen for 25 minutes
    * finish with my daily vows to myself
    * take a shower
    * longer walk with the doggy!

    Days that start out like this are always more filled with awareness, and consequently, magic…

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