When was the last time you woke up thrilled to start your day? Remember, that time when you didn’t immediately start editing your to-do list in your mind, causing you to crawl back under the covers feeling defeated minutes after waking up?
The morning: a fresh and innocent time. Birds chirping. The sky full of cheerful clouds. The day still so young. Yet often we don’t see or hear any of this. Only the cacophony in our heads. Reluctantly, we leave our warm bed, stomping restlessly into the day doing what we always do: brush our teeth dispassionately, feeling the trot of our stale routine engulfing the senses.
But, there is another way. It's easy to simply take 15 minutes for ourselves each morning to shape our day and our attitude.
Even if the day ahead looks tough and filled with challenges, there's no need to get started off on a bad foot. A life-affirming beginning to the day can be practiced and perfected.
Here a few suggestions for the practice:
1. Set your alarm 15 minutes early. Sounds impossible? Try it anyway. This is your time to adjust to the world and to yourself in the morning. Use it!
2. If the day ahead begins to flash before your eyes as soon you open them, say stop! Don’t look at your phone. Lie on your back and exhale completely, noticing the feel of the mattress against your back. Place your hands on your belly and inhale as deeply as you can. Hold your breath for a moment, and then exhale as slowly as you can through your mouth. Repeat 10-20 times.
3. Then sit up straight in bed—for this exercise you don’t even need to leave the nest! Place your hands on your thighs, relax your shoulders—and keep breathing. As soon as you notice yourself captured by your thoughts, let them go lovingly by focusing on your deep breath.
It’s not easy, and it takes some practice, but it’s so worth it! Stay seated for a few moments, and take in the delicate sounds around you. Find your place in this fresh, new day and place yourself confidently right there, right in it’s center, so that you learn to feel trust and a sense of leadership in your own life.
4. Make a fiery resolution on how you’d like to treat yourself, how your day will go, and don’t get lost in the grinding thought-patterns in your head. Then get up. Put on soothing music—I prefer Chopin in the morning.
5. Head to your Yoga mat for five sun salutations. If you’re not into Yoga, just stretch in every direction to make some inner space. Then take a couple of minutes to digest.
6. Take in all that the moment has to offer. Each movement, each detail—make it yours mindfully. No auto-pilot! If you’re making tea, then watch the water bubble and boil. Watch the teabag cozy up to the cup. Taste the tea—or coffee, if that’s your thing—fully. As if it were the very first time. Stay rooted in your intention. Enjoy the peace and quiet.
It is a real loss not to use these precious morning moments to sow a life-affirming seed in ourselves. Your life and everything around you will change for the better if you start the day with equanimity and grace.
Photos: (c) Maria Schiffer