The Importance of a Mindful Morning Routine – and Ten Tips to Start your own
‘When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.’ Marcus Aurelius
This is one of my favourite quotes because it reminds me that, even in the most difficult times, there is always something to be grateful for. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude and working to remain truly present at the moment – is central to my way of living – and two key approaches to mindfulness, inspired by my time living in an Ashram in India, spending time with Babas and Spiritual Gurus in Nepal as well as exploring life in Tantric Communities.
I have come to learn and believe that we are truly the masters of our physical, emotional, and psychological well-being; and that to keep these three planes of existence healthy we have to implement and cultivate good habits, consciousness, and mindful attention to every moment in the day – which is why it makes sense to start your day with a mindful morning routine, to set you up for a healthy happy day – and life – ahead.
Ways to start the day:
Presence is probably one of the most crucial ingredients to any spiritual or meditation practice and an essential tool for conscious living. In Tantra, one of the practices to open a circle is to each say, ‘I am here.’
This practice can be replicated in the solitude of your room by starting your day with a simple 10-minute meditation, mindful attention to breathing as you close your eyes, focus on your breath, and work with the mantra, ‘I am here;’ this can be repeated (in your head) with every inhalation, followed by a deep exhalation, as a means to steady the mind from chatter, and to keep you anchored to the present moment.
Be aware that there are days where meditation will come more easily, and there are days where your mind will be full of thoughts. Know that everything you perceive is your presence and that this is a life-long practice that changes every day. Also, know that mantra – even without being spoken out loud – can still have a profound impact on your body and soul. As can paying attention to the breath as you guide it around the body and up or up and down the spine.
I recommend mediation before checking your phone/emails so that you are beginning your practice from a neutral place, free of distractions.
After your meditation, you might want to consider a practice such as journaling or gratitude listing. Now more than ever practicing gratitude is key to raising vibrations and appreciating what you already have.
Once I am feeling a sense of clarity from my morning meditation, I like to list down at least five things that I am grateful for that day. This is an incredible tool to combat the likes of depression, and once you really take time to feel out and appreciate the many things you have – your health, a home, family, friends, income, your body, loved ones, food, water, nature…. – you will begin to feel spiritually abundant, which is far more fulfilling than materialistically abundant.
If list-making works for you then you may also like to list out the things that you’d like to do that day, along with the things you need to be as well as the need to do (train yourself to have to be listed and not only to-do lists), to ensure that you are getting a healthy balance of ‘you time,’ and to make sure you are carving out time to create, play, be present, be joyful and do the things that make you happy – this is another key tool in raising your vibration.
‘To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise, we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear’ Buddha
As well as acknowledging your healthy body when listing out what you are grateful for, movement is key to not only keep the body healthy but to remove stagnant energy, shift negative patterns, and release tension.
A morning yoga practice or Qigong practice has incredible benefits on the mind-body, as well as being fundamental to conscious breathing, building strength, flexibility, and getting the blood circulating around the body.
If yoga or Qigong is not your thing, then you could take your daily movement practice outside, as you’ll know that getting out into nature is key to my wellbeing and a big part of what I coach. Depending on where you live this could be anything from a swim in the sea or a lake, a forest walk or run, a country stroll, or bike ride.
Whatever you choose, I recommend taking time to really connect to that moment and the senses of your surroundings, disconnecting from the mind (and your phone), and truly being at one with the healing power of nature.
What works for you…
It’s important to remember that what works for each of us will differ depending on our needs and the time we have – so there is no reason why some of the suggestions that I have shared with you can’t be split throughout the day (for example, an afternoon walk, work out or yoga class if you don’t have time at the start of the day, and relaxation techniques before bed) – particularly as we want to eventually learn to be conscious humans living mindfully for as much of the day as possible.
However with so many of us currently working from/at home – and perhaps shouldering less work pressure than we have been used to – we could see the current situation as an opportunity to use the extra time that we have to cultivate a mindful morning practice, particularly as, by the same token, we probably could benefit from a little more
mindfulness more than ever now as well.
My Top Ten Tips to Start your own Mindful Practices:
- When writing your gratitude list, and struggling with where to begin, think about your loved ones – and how grateful you are to them for being who they are – and for having them around then build up your “gratitude muscles” and start your day with 5 things you are most grateful about that are not external – for example, the fact your heart is beating, your eyes opened this morning, your body is functioning, your blood is flowing. Then at night make a list of 5 things you are grateful for in your immediate surrounding – the warm bed you can sleep in, the roof above your head, the loved ones in your life, the food you ate, the nature that was the source of your meal and so on and so forth…I suggest alternating between gratitude at a “Micro” then at a “Macro” level.
- SMILE! I know this sounds so silly but truly, a smile can change your mood almost instantly and lift you up. Whenever you get a chance, just smile!
- Take time throughout the day to breathe deeply and consciously (meaning, think of the fact you are breathing, on the inhale and exhale) -even if just for three minutes.
- Take some time to sit quietly- if you can meditate daily that’s the best practice. If you are just starting your meditation practice just sit down, relax, close your eyes, and focus on your inhale and exhale, try to keep your mind quiet.
- Get out! I don’t mean to a party or a club- I mean OUTSIDE, OUTDOOR, in nature. Whether it’s cold or warm – it does not matter just go for a few minutes to get away from digital stimulation and artificial lights. Be with nature. Feel the fresh air. Breathe it.
- Practice Presence and cultivate the feeling of being present. Presence can be achieved through gratitude and mantra. Next time you go for a walk try repeating, ‘thank’ ‘you,’ with every step. See what it does for your mood.
- Self-love is something that we can practice all day long. In the way we speak to ourselves, what we eat, and the choices that we make. A very mindful practice is to ask yourself if the choice that you are about to make is for the greater good of your wellbeing.
- Cultivate your physical health and know that you are in control to take care of your physical body via your diet, movement, breathing, habits, and behaviors patterns (this doesn’t mean pushing yourself), and take time to acknowledge and love your healthy body.
- ‘You time’ is key. Whether you’re painting, singing, dancing, reading, listening to music… listen in to give yourself what you need at that time, and do so without guilt. Time for self is the most precious gift you can give yourself to feel, and be, more balanced and live in harmony in a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
- Movement is medicine. Whether that’s a long run, a swim, yoga, Qigong, sprint, or strength training, as long as your intention behind it is a positive one, movement can be a great way to get out of your head and into the present moment.
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