I can tell you firsthand that what we do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of our day: from sleeping until noon as a teenager, to staying up way too late in my 20’s, to waking up way too early in my 30’s I've experienced all the mornings. One of the most powerful shifts we can make to our morning routine is to try to approach everything we do with mindfulness. In the yoga tradition, many practitioners complete their contemplative practices before the sun has even risen. Making a few simple adjustments to your morning routine, can help you be more present for the entire day.
I currently have two kids, a partner, a dog, and a job. This has made having slow mornings more challenging, yet even more essential. It’s easy to hit the snooze button or dive right into taking care of others. However, I am a better mom, wife, coworker and frankly, human, when I’m able to have a mindful morning,
Here are 5 things you can do in the morning to be more present for the rest of your day:
Spend time solo
Being quiet allows us to shore up our energy for the rest of the day. Social interactions are an output of energy. Use the morning time to fuel your tank rather than empty it. Keep in mind that social interactions include sending emails and scrolling on social media, too.
How to: Set a boundary with yourself that you won’t engage with people (this includes looking at your phone!) until after a certain time. This gives you a window to be with yourself without distraction.
Do one thing at a time
This is kind of the whole point of mindfulness: we do whatever the task at hand may be with a sharp, one-pointed attention. This is quite the opposite from the multitasking approach many of us take with our mornings. Full disclosure, the other day I caught myself brushing my teeth, while sipping my tea, and answering an email. The irony is that when we feel pressed for time, we try to do everything at once, but that can cause things to take longer, either because we’re not focused or because we make errors along the way.
How to: Whatever you are doing, try doing just that one thing. Watch your coffee pot fill drip by drip. Once, it’s ready, try to savor each sip. Feel the grass beneath your feet when you take your dog into the yard. Smell your shampoo before you apply it. Sit in your car for a moment and take a breath before turning it on. And then sit another moment when you arrive anywhere.
One of the big sells of the breakfast food industry is the idea that you can “grab it and go,” while running out the door or commuting to work. While modern researchers can’t seem to agree about whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they do appear to agree on the benefits of mindful eating. These include intuitive eating skills, a richer appreciation for the moment, and even improved self-esteem, as it elicits a sense of taking ownership.
How to: Turn breakfast into a ceremony no matter its size. For example, your GEM daily essentials or Calm bites may be small, but they are chock-full of super foods and nutrients. Take your time eating them. Savor the square. See if you can even taste all the different fruits and veggies hidden in that tiny cube. I mean, you wouldn’t be able to do that with a vitamin!
Treat the most boring bits as sacred
Sure, we may “just” be brushing our teeth or making our bed, but can we learn to do it with such sharp awareness and reverence that it becomes like a meditation? For example, Buddhist monks treat temple maintenance and chores as part of their practice.
How to: An easy way to cultivate presence in spaces where you’re normally on autopilot is to switch things up. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand or take a new route on your morning walk or commute. Try a different flavor of something you consume every day.
Take time to reflect
We often use the morning as a time to take action and to set up our goals, but dawn is also a powerful time to review and reflect. Journaling is a great tool for this. Not only can it be a way to memorialize the simple moments, but it’s an opportunity to grow and learn, too.
How to: Write down three things that happened the day before in a list. Then, go through the list and write an additional three thoughts per experience. For example, if you first write, “I went to yoga class,” your three thoughts may be, “the room was very hot,” “my favorite teacher wasn’t there” or “I wish I hadn’t forgotten my GEM in the morning because that class was hard!” These reflections will then give you insight on how to approach today.
A mindful morning can positively influence your entire day. Mindfulness means being completely engrossed in the task at hand, whatever that may be. Mindfulness has been shown to improve mood, lessen anxiety, improve focus, and improve self-esteem—just to name a few. Not a bad way to start our day.
Ready to have your own mindful morning? Get 30 days of YogaWorks online classes for free when you subscribe to GEM today!