An Idea for Starting The Day
I have a simple ritual to begin each day. I have added on to it over time, but there is one thing that I always do every single morning.
As I get out of bed I put my feet on the floor, sit on the bed, and say to myself "Thank you for this day". It's nothing big, not major affirmation, just a simple statement of gratitude. I do this every morning, whether I'm at home or away, whether I have slept well or not, whether my cat Bonsai is anxiously circling to be fed or not. By the way he is usually circling anxiously, and may I say rather dramatically, to be fed. But how I start the day is important; how I set my mind is important.
Saying "Thank you for this day" establishes an attitude of appreciation right from the start. I have woken up, I'm breathing on my own, my body is able to move and is healthy, I can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. I'm doing pretty well. If I begin from this perspective, it orients the choices in thought I will make during the day. Is this going to be a day where I complain about what I can't control or a day where I appreciate all the good I have? Is this going to be a day where I lament getting out of bed early or appreciate that I desire to get out of bed? I've been in depressions where it was impossible to get out of bed, I know first hand how precious just desiring to get up can be. These are the choices in perspective we make every day. How we orient our minds orients our day. How we choose to perceive in a large part affects what we see and experience in our lives during the day.
The other part of my daily routine, which I added on about a year ago, is about 5 minutes of Alternate Nostril Breath, sometimes other styles of breathing, followed by 5 to 10 minutes of meditation. I don't always do the same style of meditation, but always 5 to 10 minutes. Again, every day no matter where I am or what I am doing. My friends sometimes call me "Mr. Miyagi" in the summer when we are at the beach because I'm at the beach doing my breath and meditation every morning. Well in truth, depending on the night, some mornings are later than others, but still meditation and breathing happen! Anyways, breath work helps to regulate and balance the nervous system and mediation helps to regulate and balance the mind. Both help to keep me more balanced during the day.
And that sense of balance helps me to have a better day. It doesn't mean every day is full of Mary Poppins and Bambi, far from it. But this routine helps me to deal with whatever the day brings in a way that feels slightly easier. I'm less reactive and more able to speak my mind. And, on the really tough days, the routine helps me to manage the difficulty.
Most of all, this ritual sends a powerful signal to my subconscious that I am worth taking this time for myself. This 15 minutes or so is sacred to me, a block of time that is purely mine. I cannot stress how important this is for all of us but especially for yoga teachers or for anyone in a giving profession from doctors, to nurses, to caregivers, to teachers of any kind. You must block time for yourself to recharge your batteries and must always affirm for your subconscious that you are worth that time. You must fill your tank before you can give more, and a morning routine is one way of doing that.
Here are some ideas for creating your morning routine:
1. Start with what you can do. I know that we don't all have 15 minutes in the morning. But each of us can take 2 seconds to say a simple prayer or affirmation such as "Thank you for my day". Just that can do more than you can imagine. The length of time of your routine is nowhere near as important as doing it consistently.
2. Pick a routine that feels resonant to you and that you enjoy. I tend to use yoga techniques, but you do not need to limit yourself to that. Maybe you sit for a moment in a favorite spot and enjoy some coffee or tea. Maybe you write a page in a journal. Maybe you take a short walk. Maybe you just take 5 deep breaths. It's not the content of your routine that matters, it's that you do it!
Try it out my friends! I promise you will be amazed with the results.