What do you do when you first wake up in the morning? My guess is many of you start checking your phone for the news, swipe through all your social media accounts, and then go to email. And your mind might immediately get caught up in obsessive, ruminative thinking about something that’s not going well. Before you know it, you’re probably mad, frustrated, or anxious, and then it’s time for coffee to get you going. So far it’s not looking good.
To be honest, I can’t say that I have never done this exact thing, but I work on NOT doing it. it’s so tempting, right? That is how the technology was developed—to hook us into looking at it as much as possible. But I’m sure by now you’ve heard how damaging it can be to your health. Overuse or dependence on technology may have adverse psychological effects including feeling socially isolated and depression and anxiety. Negative physical effects include eye strain, poor posture, sleep problems, and reduced physical activity.
My suggestion is not to give up on technology, but to use it more sparingly and thoughtfully. Specifically, use the morning to set down the phone and tune inside. Particularly since we are moving into a busier time of year, the temptation to be distracted is even greater as your focus turns outward to other people and events. Connecting with yourself first will set the tone for the rest of your day and help you be more available to the people in your life.
Here are some suggestions to get your morning off to a better start:
- Be grateful. When I become conscious, I try to be aware of the moment and all the sensations available to me. I’m lying on a comfortable bed, in a warm house, under cozy blankets, and I’m breathing. My body has stayed alive all night long doing amazing things without me needing to do anything, and I’m alive for another day. When you really take that in fully, you can’t help but be awed. Think of at least three things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning. It moves the mind in the direction of gratitude.
- Read something spiritually uplifting. Every morning my husband and I have a routine of reading from our favorite spiritual teachings. It not only connects us as a couple, but it helps us connect to our hearts before we venture out into the world and meet other people. Have some books by your bed that you can easily reach for that morning boost of enlightenment. It’s more energizing than your cup of coffee.
- Pray or meditate. The morning is the most wonderful time to pray and meditate because it grounds you before you have a chance to get caught off guard by the world. When you start with these practices, you set an intention to be present and centered in clarity and kindness. This is not to say that you won’t be reactive, but you will have a greater chance of responding instead.
- Do some yoga. I usually do my yoga before I meditate because it calms my body and helps me with the relaxation part of meditation. When the body is relaxed, it is much easier to be focused and alert for meditation practice. I also love yoga because my body feels energized, flexible, and strong after practice. And EVERYONE can do yoga. Yoga is not about touching your toes or sun salutations, but it is a spiritual practice of calming the mind and connecting you with your inner being.
- Connect with other beings. To avoid the isolation of technology, start the day by connecting with other people or pets in your home. If you don’t live with anyone and don’t have a pet, you can always send a cheerful good morning to a family member or friend that lives somewhere else. Our connections to one another are one of the most precious parts of our lives.
- Send Out Your Blessings. I have a dear friend who I don’t see because of the pandemic, but we talk on the phone from time to time. Every single time I talk to her she says “I’m praying for you and for your family.” I tell her I pray for her too. This is such a beautiful practice that fills me with joy. I also send blessings out to everyone at the end of yoga or meditation and many other times during the day. We have so much, and it only takes a moment to share those blessings with others by calling them to mind and sending them love through your intentions.
I hope these suggestions help remind you about the importance of practices you already do or perhaps help motivate you to get started on one. During this time when families and friends are getting together, these practices can help you get the most out of your time together by increasing your ability to be present, even under sometimes difficult situations.
I have so much to be grateful for, and I send my blessings out to you at the beginning of this holiday season. May you see it as a time to increase your connection to what is real and less on that which isn’t. Instead of dreading the challenging parts of the holidays, may you look for the aspects of this wintertime that support and bolster your spirit and increase your well-being.
If you need a jump start on yoga and meditation, you can check numerous recordings on my website. Or you can join me at alleyCat Yoga Center on Wednesdays and Fridays. See their website for listings.