How to begin a mindful morning routine.
| How to Begin a Mindful Morning Routine
My apartment is on the 29th floor of a 4 block condominium; and each morning upon waking I can see the sun brilliantly rising above the distant valleys visible from my balcony. I live about 12 kilometers away from the city central of Kuala Lumpur, where abundant green nature has continued to thrill me from the day that I arrived. Waking up, I am surrounded by the joyous sound of birds chirping and gently rousing my senses. My hands feel the support of my soft yet firm mattress, with my ears absorbed by the sound of silence punctuated only by birdsong. I breathe deeply, and feel my nose and lungs supporting each other, bringing life to my body. This is how I begin each day mindfully, and it is the first peaceful step of my mindful morning.
After I have woken, I progress to the next stages of my mindful morning routine, and I would like to share with you the rest of the steps in detail:
1. Mindful wakeup
I am blessed each morning to wake up to the sound of natural birdsong. It is a gentle sound and makes for a peaceful awakening. I find it is important to wake up to a beautiful sound, and if you are not surrounded by the blissful chirping of birds in your home environment, I would like to recommend that you download a beautiful song to set as your alarm tone. There are a variety of relaxing wake-up sounds available online and through apps. Some of my favourites include natural sounds like the sound of the ocean or falling rain, but you can also find birdsong if you wish. After taking a few minutes to feel, to hear and to breathe, slowly rise out of bed. Once standing, I like to immediately fold my blanket. I do this by holding the corners of my blanket high in the air while stretching my arms as wide as possible to spread it and fold it neatly. The purpose of instantly attending to my blanket, is to straight away accomplish a small task and set the tone for an orderly and organized day ahead.
2. Mindful shower
The next step in my morning mindfulness routine; is to take a relaxing shower. This is a fantastic way to wake up and feel instantly amazing! On some days I choose to take a refreshing cold shower, and on others a warm, soothing shower. Either way, I close my eyes and focus on the sensation of the water running through my hair, onto my face, and over my entire body. As I wash myself with soap, I breathe in peace and love, and I exhale any negative energy. The water element is associated with emotions, and this cleansing act will renew your energy for a positive day ahead.
3. Mindfully dress the body
After stepping out of the shower, dry yourself thoroughly and gently. It is now time to mindfully select the attire for the day. It doesn't matter what you wear, as long as you are covered! However, I like to consider my emotions and choose colours accordingly. Certain colours are good for creating certain moods, and it is wonderful to embrace the healing powers of colours. Sometimes we need to realign a certain chakra and it is easy to enhance the energy of any particular chakra through wearing the corresponding colour. Remember to dress comfortably for freedom of movement and peace of mind.
4. Mindful breakfast
Here we come to an important aspect and sub-category of overall mindfulness practice: Mindful eating. It is important to set aside time each morning for a mindful breakfast, so that you don't have to rush and compromise the digestion process. Consider how often you take the time to sit down to eat, compared to the times when you are completely distracted? Perhaps you're checking your email, Twitter or Facebook, or you may just be zoned out. Try this instead: when eating, simply eat. Forget all of your digital devices, books, newspapers or any other distractions and really focus on the food. Chew it slowly, really savoring the smells, textures and tastes on your tongue. Pay attention to the sensory experience of your food, notice the colour of the food. I choose to chew my food about 30 times before swallowing in order to fully experience it and to ensure that it is assimilated effectively. It is also a good idea to spend a moment being grateful for the food you're consuming and people who grow the food, the sun, the rain, and the people who are serving your table if you are eating at restaurant. Gratitude is super important here, and when we are rushing it is easy to forget to be grateful. You may like to try eating alone to start with, as it will help your focus while you are learning to eat mindfully. Once you have got the hang of it, you can happily dine mindfully with other people, simultaneously honoring the food and partaking in table conversation.
5. Mindfully brushing teeth
Sometimes it is the small things in life that we need to fully embrace to create further opportunities for being mindful! Brushing the teeth is something that we do everyday at least twice a day, so why not make it into a mindful ritual?! I enjoy playing music while I brush my teeth. I choose a 4 minute song and I brush each row of my teeth for one minute while it plays. I love the taste of mint and the sensation of the toothbrush on my teeth and gums. The entire process of brushing my teeth is so relaxing to me, from when I open the toothpaste and watch it squeeze the white gel-like substance onto my toothbrush, all the way to when I am done brushing my teeth and brushing my tongue.
6. Mindful meditation
Meditation is an absolutely amazing way to start each day! With a little planning, it is so helpful to add the practice of meditation to any morning routine. If I could recommend any one of these practices to add to your day, this would be the number one! But try to incorporate as many as possible for greater benefit and balance. If you are pressed for time, you can simply do a 10 minute seated meditation. If a sitting meditation isn't your thing, and you have created some extra time in your mornings, you can try a walking meditation. This is a common practice at meditation retreats, where you'll often alternate between sitting meditation and walking meditation. In a similar way, you could alternate between the two, basing your decision daily on timing and weather. If you are new to the concept of mindful walking I suggest the best place to begin practicing, is to be surrounded by the beauty of nature. When outdoors, it is easy to soak up the exquisite sights and delight in the sounds of nature. If you can't find the time to do this every day, perhaps try to do it at least once or twice a week. However, it is not necessary to be in nature in order to practice mindful walking. At the office when you get up from your desk to go to the bathroom, talk to a colleague or to get a cup of coffee, rather than mindlessly walking, trapped in your thoughts, bring your attention to the physical movement of walking. Relax your shoulders. Notice your feet on the floor, the weight of your body shifting from one leg to the other. Feel your arms swing. Really focus on the sensations of the present moment, both in your body and in your surrounding environment. Pay attention to the temperature in the room and to whatever else your senses can notice. This has an instantly calming effect.
7. Mindfully sipping water
As you prepare to leave your home feeling light and filled with serenity after your mindful morning, remember to pack some water. Throughout the day, carry a water bottle around and continue to fill it up each time it empties. You may choose to flavor your water with lemon or herbs, or you can choose to simply appreciate the water for it's hydrating properties. Perhaps it is winter, and in this case you could carry a flask filled with hot water or tea. Either way, be sure to sip your water slowly and peacefully. As you notice the cleansing and rejuvenating effect of the water you will find your mood lifting. I find it helpful to sip water in almost all situations because it is so soothing and purifying.
I hope you find this article inspiring and that you will try to save just a few minutes of your time to practice these powerful techniques. When I began rising two hours earlier than I used to in the mornings, I could notice a real difference in the start to my day. Instead of rushing to work with no food, in clothes that I didn't feel comfortable, with no peace of mind - I was able to begin my day nourished, feeling good in my clothes and filled with serenity. I now even have time for walking meditations too! But don't worry if you are not ready to wake up two hours earlier every morning. By using just one of these techniques to begin with, you will start to notice a big difference in the way you feel! And if you learn to start the day feeling peaceful, then you are creating strength for anything that may lie in the day ahead. Start small, perhaps by changing your alarm tone, and being mindful as you brush your teeth. As you become confident and happy with the new routine, slowly add more of these elements into it until each morning is a glorious time that you feel you simply can't live without! Remember too, that mindfulness is not only for the mornings, but a way of living every day. Practice mindfulness on the way to work, at the office, at the supermarket, on the short walk to your car, in conversations and in as many situations as you can. Over time, mindfulness will become second nature to you, and your life and the lives of others will improve as a result.