On a typical weekday, the “morning rush” encounters us the moment we gain consciousness from sleep. The alarm rings, eyes open, rush to prepare for work, sip a breakfast and commute among others rushing. I watch this every morning, and I wonder if the minds of busy people also rushed along, without having the time to center and set a positive tone for the day.
I think the start of a day is a huge foundation on which the rest of the day builds on. As I reflect, I know that the days I began with stress and having to rush mindlessly, often ends up in me feeling exhausted and flustered by mid-day, not to even mention the drag by the end of day. Whereas, when I began the day with gratitude, positive intentions and peace, it sets a tone to see the world quite differently. I am more composed, focused and emotionally stable throughout the day. I enjoyed the day more, and throughout the week, the effects are amazing. Hence, I devised a morning ritual to set this tone, and here are some suggested ways you can try this ritual out. It just takes you at most 15 minutes to change how you experience your whole day.
1. Be Grateful
Gratitude has such a profound impact on our lives. It can immediately shift us into a positive space, to know what is happening well for us. It is an automatic positive reframe, that no matter how much we are challenged, we can find something that is happening well for us, and be thankful for it. As we begin the day knowing that we do have enough in our lives, it could give us the strength to trudge ahead stronger. It is an awareness that not all is “doom and gloom”, which is important amidst difficult times, bring the light into the darkness.
a. Think of 3 people/events/things that you are grateful for right now, after waking up.
b. Ask yourself “why am I grateful for this?”
c. Immerse yourself in the emotions that come with the gratitude associated with each of these experiences.
2. Set Positive Intentions
Beginning a day with positive intentions is about setting directions and aims for the day. Compare this to going through a day of routine, with nothing we want to do different from yesterday or last week. Set these intentions in a way that is positive, making “towards” move, such as wanting to achieve milestones for a project, rather than “away” moves, such as avoiding reprimand from boss. Positive intentions do change our energy for the day. Also, as we tick off the “to do list” set positively, such progress checking gives us a sense of accomplishment throughout the day – a huge sustenance to motivate us.
a. Think of the things you would like to achieve for today, list them down, take them with you and check them off along the way. Schedule the unfinished tasks for later dates.
b. Imagine the state you will be in as you accomplish each of these tasks. It could be the excitement, joy and fulfillment you get as you move through them. Take some time to really feel and embody these visualised states. Bring them with you.
I love the mornings when I am the first to be up, making the breakfast in the quiet, and getting ready for gym. It gives me time to be still and aware of my mind, and busk in the peace. As I consume my breakfast, I begin my gratitude practice and set positive intentions for the day. With the time remaining, I meditate to settle into a deeper state of peace and focus. And this peace and focus will stay with me throughout the day, even without me willing for it. That is the final icing of my morning ritual.
a. Slow down what you are experiencing. Notice what is around you externally, then bring your attention to your breath, let your breath be. Close your eyes. Count from 10 to 1 internally, and allow with each count you go deeper within yourself into a place that is peaceful and still. Go in internally, with each thought and feeling that enters your mind, watch them, and let them go. If they are important, write them down. And let them go. Go into your inner stillness, and be still. Count down again if you need to regain focus again. Just for 5 minutes, you will reach your depth.
Original writings by The Realist, inspired by encounters in professional work in life coaching, physical therapy and PhD research.