For most of us, our days are filled with hectic schedules and to-do lists a mile long. We live in a day and age where we are focused outside ourselves with communication and social media 24 hours per day. Our day often starts with looking at our phones, dealing with text messages, emails, phone calls and all of the negativity in the news. Even though we know it’s not good for us, stress is the accepted norm. And whether we realize it or not, the stress we start our day with impacts the rest of our day.
Starting your day differently may feel impossible. It seems we don’t have time to spare. But the morning time offers us a special opportunity. Mornings are a quiet time when everyone is waking from their slumber. There’s a stillness and peacefulness that is unmatched by any other time of the day. Even our waking brain waves of alpha and theta are deeply relaxed and opens our mind to reprogramming.
Many mystics point to the importance of the morning and setting our minds. Buddhists monks wake before the break of dawn for their morning routine of meditation, prayer, and chanting. The old testament speaks to the spiritual significance of the morning and the new testament has biblical accounts of Jesus rising early to pray and to be with God. Yoga masters state that the best time to meditate is before dawn, because the mind is intrinsically still at that time, enabling a deeper meditative state. “Because the early morning hours are naturally sattvic, it is easier to impress the mind with positive ideas and habits at this time.” says Vedanta instructor, Manisha Malwani. These “ambrosial hours” are also considered a time when intuition is enhanced and prayer is maximized. It is also thought that in the early morning there is thinner veil between the other realms and spirits among us.
So what could taking some time for ourselves in the morning look like?
Some people connect upon first awakening, when ours brains are especially open to influence. This is a prime moment to remind ourselves what is important to us. It’s an opportunity to connect to Source or God. We can send love or positive vibes out into our day; to the people we plan to see and places we plan to go and watch how that effects our day. We can also start the day with a sense of gratitude for the good things in our lives.
Some people wake up, get some coffee or tea and journal after getting back in bed. “Morning pages” as discussed in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artists Way is an opportunity to work through creative blockages which are keeping you bogged down. Writing 3 pages long hand, without stopping, the contents don’t matter. Every day you write whatever comes to you. Getting the stuff that’s heavy on your mind out of your psyche, by freewriting; putting it all on paper, can free you to open up your day to something more positive and inclusive. Focusing on the positive through writing in a gratitude journal is a great way to bring an uplifted vibration into your day.
Many use the morning time to meditate by focusing on the breath. It’s a common experience for us to struggle with meditation because we often believe we need to get somewhere with it or practice for long periods. “As a society, we’ve made meditation into something mysterious and difficult to achieve.”, said Louise Hay. “Some people think if they meditate they can stop their mind from thinking. You are never going to stop your mind from thinking. Allow the thoughts to flow through, notice them and label them. If you don’t give them importance then they pass through like a soft cloud on a summer day.” She suggested using positive visualizations while meditating. One need only take a few conscious, cleansing breaths to start your day off right. Meditation master Tenzin Palmo says: “Meditation is for you to realize that the deepest nature of your existence is beyond thoughts and emotions, that it is incredibly vast and interconnected with all other beings.”
There are hundreds of guided meditations and social media apps today that can help you learn to meditate and be more present. The apps help you meditate from the comfort of your smartphone. HeadSpace is one of the more popular. A recent study showed that the HeadSpace app users improved their mindfulness skills through acting with awareness and were less reactive to their thoughts and feelings. Other benefits to mindfulness meditation include less rumination, stress reduction, focus and improved relationship satisfaction to name a few.
The morning is also a good time for prayer. Joe Dispenza says, “A prayer is a thought that possesses the quality of directed intention. It’s holding a specific outcome in our minds with the objective of connecting to a greater power for assistance.” It’s a time to share your wishes, hopes and dreams. Marianne Williamson, author of Illuminata: A Return to Prayer says, “No conventional therapy can release us from a deep and abiding psychic pain. Through prayer we find what we cannot find elsewhere: a peace that is not of this world.”
Reading uplifting or spiritual passages from books that we appreciate can change our day for the better. Find an author that excites your soul. There are so many books that offer an uplifted perspective that can help us throughout our days. There are millions of videos and podcasts available as well. Music is also an important opportunity to connect to more positive feelings. Attending an uplifting spiritual service that is meaningful to us offers another opportunity to start our day off right. Holding these uplifting ideas and thoughts can help us become less reactive to the stresses of the day.
Exercise is a great way to start our day and get your blood pumping. Walking or running outdoors in nature helps connect us to our inner being through nature’s stillness and can help clear our minds. Stretching our bodies through Yoga allows us to quiet our minds. The Yoga Sutra’s explain that Yoga is the union of body, mind, soul, and spirit. “Yoga is the progressive settling of the mind into silence. When the mind is settled, we are established in our own essential state, which is unbounded consciousness.”
Another consideration is the food we eat in the morning. Many of us were raised to believe that a bowl full of sugary cereal is a good breakfast. Consider nutrient dense alternatives such as organic fruit, smoothies and even some protein to keep your blood sugar stable. A good, balanced breakfast will do more to start you off right by helping you stay focused and centered throughout your day.
We spend time preparing in the morning by cleansing our bodies. How do we spend time in the morning cleansing our minds? It starts with an intention to begin the day with what is meaningful to you. In our society we aren’t encouraged to connect to our deepest selves; our inner life. It’s not valued. “The crisis of modern society is that human beings too often feel spiritually homeless within it.”, says Marianne Williamson. “An overexternalized worldview separates us from our souls, thus causing us to suffer.”
Connecting to our deepest selves in the morning allows us to return to the intentions and feelings we set and offers us opportunities to replenish ourselves throughout our day. “When we first awake our mind is a relatively blank canvas. It is not yet cluttered with all the minutiae of the day. At this point, we can paint on it whatever we want. And if we take this opportunity to paint a scene of Heaven on it, that is what will remain for a good part of the day, maybe the entire day. On the other hand, if we wait too long, then our canvas will begin getting crowded with scenes of tasks and worries and plans.”, says Robert Perry from Circle of Atonement.
Do you have a morning routine? How does it help you? I’d love to know!