Have you ever noticed that however you start the day has the potential to set the tone for how the rest of the day that follows? I certainly have. Upon rising, I practice these feel-good and mindfulness activities for as long as I find enjoyable…especially before looking at devices or rushing out the door.
What is mindfulness?
Many of our behaviors, thoughts, and actions run on autopilot, in other words, they are unconscious. Neural networks generate pathways that create our habits, and once a habit is created, we tend to default to those familiar ways of doing, reliant on those shortcuts… while not being consciously aware. Mindfulness is the exact opposite of falling into these unconscious patterns. Mindfulness is to cultivate awareness. Mindfulness is bringing your attention to the present moment, with a curious, loving and non judgemental mind. It is a practice of remembering to remember.
Everytime we observe ourselves and do something deliberate, we activate and stimulate neuroplasticity and neurons in our brain. One way to achieve this is by slowing down, and incorporating the following into our morning routine.
Early morning sun
There’s something magical about starting the day outdoors, getting the sun on your skin and listening to the stimulating sounds of nature. The morning sun helps to set our own circadian rhythm, kicking on the hormones to let our body and minds know it’s time to get going with the new day ahead.
Move your body.. Go for a walk, yoga, light work out, dance.
Movement is one of the best ways to connect with our body. It’s an opportunity to get out of our chatty mind and to ground into our physical form. There’s no thinking about the future or getting caught in the past, rather it allows us to be right here and now, present with what is. Getting into a flow state with movement provides clarity and the release of endorphins to boost the day in a positive way.
Deep breaths help to regulate the nervous system. It can clear out any blockages and create space for anything that comes your way. Breathwork helps us to respond to life, rather than react out of impulse. This is a quick way to change our state and carry breathing deeply with us throughout the rest of the day…it’s also a great tool to use throughout the day if anxiety or unease presents itself!
Who knew getting silent and comfortable with stillness would be so powerful, yet have its own set of challenges? The power of sitting with oneself offers many benefits. Meditation gives us an opportunity to look at where we are currently at and what our minds do when we pay attention. The idea is to anchor ourselves with our breath, scan the body, repeat a mantra, etc., and gently guide our minds back to our anchor as soon as we notice it’s wandered off. Discomfort, distraction, ideas, and emotions are constantly rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, and we see that in our meditation practice and simply observe, without attempting to change anything. It’s a great practice in acceptance.
Write what’s on your mind, write what’s in your heart, write what you want to remember, write what you want to forget. We only have some much room and can only hold so much information in our minds. Writing is a time to be honest and can reveal more than what could be looping if just left inside our heads. It’s also fun to look back on and see how much has changed and evolved. You can even talk to your journal and ask it (yourself) questions. For example, “Dear Journal, how do I find a solution to xyz problem?” And begin to freewrite without concern for spelling or grammar…this is a powerful technique!
Gratitude prayer with some tea
Gratitude is the antidote to anxiety, fear, and depression. It’s impossible to be feeling anything other than love and happiness while connecting and feeling into what we are grateful for. This practice attracts more moments to be grateful for and helps to keep your reality in perspective. It’s easy for our minds to run with negative thoughts, even if our lives are overwhelmingly positive. This practice helps to keep a proper perspective…there’s always much to be grateful for in all moments.
These practices directly apply to all areas of our lives. It’s designed so that in the midst of a stressful situation, we can find our center, and locate that calm deep breath a little bit easier. We become more cognizant of ourselves and operate in a more stable and loving way. We set ourselves up to be more of who we want to be and how we want to live. We open ourselves up to intentional goal setting, creative thoughts and ideas, and we become aware of a clear path forward. We get in the driver seat and enjoy the ride more fully and deeply. We choose where to focus and are guided by clarity. Life opens up and we begin to step out of our comfort zones, challenge ourselves and find our edge to feel into what matters most to us. It all starts with deciding to begin…where are you ready to get started?