- Oprah Winfrey has been open about her morning routine, which includes lots of meditation and time spent in nature.
- I decided to try out her morning routine for a week, and it was much more challenging than I thought it’d be.
- I struggled to meditate every morning, but I didn’t find it too difficult to follow her rule about not setting alarms.
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Oprah Winfrey is one of the most powerful women in the world, yet it seems like she starts her day on a pretty zen note.
And, as someone who is naturally quite anxious and could use a bit of peace, I decided to put her calming-sounding routine to the test.
Here’s what it was like following Oprah’s morning routine for a week.
Oprah said she never sets an alarm, so I didn’t either.
I started this experiment on a Sunday morning, and it was admittedly a bit rougher than usual because I had been at a wedding the night before and was now a bit hungover.
Fortunately, Oprah’s first rule is one I could totally get behind. In 2017, she told The Hollywood Reporter she doesn’t use an alarm to wake up.
“I have never set an alarm, I don’t believe in them. They are … alarming! I put the number in my mind and I wake up before that, usually between 6:02 and 6:20, because the dogs are trained to go out around that time,” she told the publication.
Not setting an alarm sounded pretty good to me. Plus, I’m also a naturally early riser so this didn’t seem too difficult.
I woke up around 6:30 a.m., bleary-eyed and with a booming headache from all the peach sangria I’d enjoyed the night before. I was glad to not have been woken up by a loud alarm.
I can imagine that Oprah’s alarm-free policy isn’t very practical for those who have to go to school, work, or certain appointments early in the morning. Fortunately, I work from home and don’t have a super strict schedule.
That said, not using an alarm became more challenging during the week, especially since my husband has to set his to wake up for work. I’m usually up before him anyway, though.
But as the week progressed, I found myself naturally rising around 6:00 a.m., so I was impressed that I truly channeled my “Oprah zen” without the aid of an alarm.
Oprah likes to begin her day with a heaping dose of nature, which took some getting used to.
In 2018, Oprah told Harper’s Bazaar that it’s a “perfect day” when she can wake up surrounded by nature while in her own home.
She also said enjoys lifting her blackout shades and watching geese fly over the backyard into the pond in the morning.
Alas, her primary residence is huge and is in Montecito, California. My home is in New York and, in terms of nature, I just live near a few trees. Plus, I don’t have a pond or blackout shades.
So, I adapted. I made a point to focus on the nature I could see from my home.
I simply opened the curtains each morning and took a moment to appreciate the trees in my backyard, which is certainly smaller than Winfrey’s 65-acre property with more than 3,000 trees.
It was kind of calming to take some time to appreciate the view, but it’d probably be more interesting if I had some sort of body of water and forest animals to look at.
Oprah has a ritual of “spiritual exercises” she does each morning and I found them to be quite relaxing.
Oprah has said she likes to begin her day with “a series of spiritual exercises,” which she does outside when it’s warm or in her meditation room.
I don’t have a meditation room and it was kind of chilly, so I opted to do mine in my kitchen.
Oprah also told Harper’s Bazaar that she starts doing her readings as she brews her morning beverage of choice, espresso.
“As I wait for the brew to froth, I pull out a card from my 365 Gathered Truths box. I read five of them each morning; it’s a beautiful way to start the day,” she told the publication.
I don’t have an espresso machine, but I do make plain-old coffee each morning, so I turned on my coffee maker and got ready for some affirming.
I also made another adaptation since the Gathered Truths box she mentions costs nearly $100, and I’m not working with a billionaire budget like hers. Instead of buying the whole box, I bought just a few of the paper quote cards online.
I read one of the Truth cards each day, supplementing with four of Oprah’s favorite inspirational quotes. This actually became one of my favorite parts of her daily routine.
The Truth cards said inspiring things like, “Do everything with a mind that lets go” and “If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.”
Oprah has also said she reads from “Bowl of Saki,” a daily digest email featuring teachings of the Sufis, which she described to the magazine as “a Middle-Eastern sect that believes all paths lead to God and that all religions are one, pointing to the same north star.”
So, I read this email each morning, too.
I actually really enjoyed kicking off my day by reading inspiring messages instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, which can feel chaotic and stressful even on a relaxing weekend morning.
She has an elaborate meditation routine, which I actually found to be very difficult.
In a 2016 interview on the Oprah Winfrey Network, the mogul said she lights three candles and meditates each morning, whether it’s for 10 seconds or 20 minutes.
I know how powerful daily meditation can be, as I have practiced it on and off for a few years. But it’s always been challenging for me to commit to it, especially in the morning.
I’m the type of person who immediately wakes up and thinks about all the things I have to do that day — folding laundry, washing dishes, feeding the dog, completing freelance assignments, and running all sorts of errands.
Alas, I lit some candles and secured a spot in my home that felt peaceful.
Getting into a relaxing head space for meditation shortly after waking up proved to be extremely difficult for me.
On the first day, I struggled to meditate and was only able to sit still for 10 minutes.
Day two was easier since it was a holiday weekend and I had nowhere to be and no plans ahead.
Some days, I was only able to commit for 10 minutes, but I made sure to tune out the world as best I could by using apps that guided meditations for people like me who have a difficult time keeping their minds at ease, even for a few minutes.
Meditating with a 65-pound puppy at my feet also made things tricky, so I ended up having to keep him in a different room — this was definitely not relaxing.
As I went through the rest of the week, I made a greater effort to at least try to clear my mind, but this was the part of her routine I struggled with the most — I’m not sure how someone as busy as Oprah is able to relax so deeply every single day.
Oprah has said that after she meditates she takes an hour to work out.
Like Oprah, I also make regular exercise a part of my morning routine, but oftentimes, I’ll shift my workout to later in the day, as I had to do throughout the week.
Since I also enjoy the famous cycling class, I decided to make that my morning workout for three days this week.
I can see why Oprah, who seems to focus on being calm and zen in the morning, loves this class so much. I think she’d approve of the spiritual messages behind the SoulCycle workout, which my favorite instructor calls a “moving meditation.”
For days when I didn’t go to a fitness class, I just walked on the treadmill in my basement, following part of the routine she shared with The Hollywood Reporter in 2017.
She told publication, “I’ll do 20 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes walking on the treadmill. I start out at the level-three incline setting and then every minute I add to the incline until I get to 12 or 15. And then I do sit-ups.”
This workout felt pretty brief and doable and it didn’t really feel too different from my typical morning routine.
Overall, I appreciated focusing on mindfulness but found it difficult to fit all of Oprah’s zen moments into my morning routine.
I really appreciated that Oprah likes to start her day with a clear mind and a grateful heart, but for most of us with average day-to-day responsibilities, it doesn’t seem too practical.
Even though I work from home and wake up early, I still found it a bit difficult to fit in workouts, meditation, and all sorts of spiritual moments before 9:00 a.m.
Still, I loved getting to follow Oprah’s go-to spiritual exercises and read inspiring quotes each morning, and I plan to incorporate both of those things into my routine going forward.
That said, I think I’ll find less time-consuming ways to feel grateful … and I’ll skip the meditation for now.