Good Mornings Lead to Great Days Using Mindfulness
The ability to have a great morning starts before you ever get out of your bed. That may sound ridiculous but it is the absolute truth. Using concepts from positive psychology, mindfulness and body awareness, I am going to teach you how to have a great morning in 7 easy steps. My hope is that your great morning will lead to a fantastic day!
I have always thought of morning-time as the most sacred part of the day and maybe even a little magical. When you think about it, mornings offer us the opportunity to begin anew – to embrace all that a new day has to offer. Many people dread getting up in the morning but I’m just the opposite. The reason is simple. I know that if I do everything in my power to start my morning off right, I am 50% of the way towards having a fantastic day.
OK, so are you ready to learn how you can have a great morning? Let’s jump right in!
1. Stop the mental checklist
Most folks I know start the day off by going through a mental checklist of everything they have to do for that day. This review process typically happens immediately after waking up from sleep – during that groggy period that falls somewhere between pre-consciousness and full consciousness.
If you are one who goes through this kind of checklist, I want you to make the conscious choice of catching yourself in that moment and then say … stop. That is right, stop the mental checklist and instead, focus on step #2.
This should take no more than 30 seconds.
2. Be aware of your body
Body awareness is a major good morning ingredient. Now that you have stopped the mental checklist of to-dos, I want you to empty your mind and simply meditate for a moment. After your brain is purged of all images, things, people and thoughts, I want you to focus on the moment with your body, using all five of your senses.
Ask yourself: What am I aware of? For example, are you aware of what your hands are touching? Are you aware the sound of traffic? Can you feel the cool fabric of your sheets on your skin? Can you taste the air surrounding you? Can you smell something close by? Just focus on all that your senses are picking up with your body – touch, sound, sight, taste and smell. Focus on these things for just a few moments. This should take all of 5 minutes.
Now that you have identified a myriad of sensations using your senses, it is time to do something with the observations you have made. I want you to review all that you have taken in and practice gratitude. This means saying to yourself things like the following: I am able to feel my sheets and they are cool to touch – I am grateful I have the ability to feel. Another example might be: I hear the rush of traffic outside my window. I am grateful that I have the ability to hear.
You get the main point here. The idea is to take your mindful observations and turn them into positives. This process should take 3-5 minutes, give or take.
3. Affirm that you will have a good day
Once you have completed step two, it is time to do a quick mental affirmation. Keep in mind, you have not yet gotten out of bed. Step three is perhaps easier said than done however. I say this because it requires that you truly believe you will have a great morning. Your positive affirmation should be simple and to the point. Examples include: I know this is going to be a great morning! or This morning will be super positive!
If you are spiritual, you may want to switch out your affirmation with a prayer to your higher power. Speaking only for myself, I know I have asked our creator to please keep away negative people for the day. In other words – a prayer for protection. This should take 1 minute at most.
4. Get out of bed and then stretch
Once you have completed steps 1-4, it is time to get up. Slowly place your feet on the floor and lift yourself up. Once you are bipedal, take a deep and purposeful breath. Then, stretch your arms out and let the blood flow to your arms and legs. Shake yourself about a little (aka wiggle).
During this period, you will once again want to use mindfulness to focus on body awareness. Affirm something positive to yourself during the stretching process. Be grateful you had the power to get out of bed. This should take all of 1 minute.
5. Go to the bathroom and look in the mirror
Yes, you read this right. I am aware that most folks use the bathroom in the morning to relieve themselves of liquids from the night before. I am also aware that on the way to the toilette, a lot of people look in the mirror and replay some type of mental tape that is usually negative. (i.e., I look like hell or I’m so fat). Sound familiar? If so, keep reading.
I want you to change your morning bathroom routine a bit and use that potty moment to get all Zen. This needs to happen the moment you see yourself in the mirror. I don’t care if this means you have to do it before, during or after the urinating but it needs to happen.
Regardless of how this unfolds for you, what is important is this – the moment you see yourself in the mirror, say good morning. If you want to make a positive self-statement about yourself, you can. Until you are able to work yourself up to more advanced mirror work, (aka mirror affirmation), a simple good morning as you gaze at your reflection will do just fine.
Difficult to place a time stamp on this one but should take no more than 3-5 minutes.
6 Do a quick set of abdominal exercises
Oh I recognize this particular point may sound absolutely silly but stick with me. Step six is all about doing something positive for YOU before doing stuff for others. This is a wonderful way of giving something physical back to your body and mind.
If you have been trying to trim your tummy, this approach can only help you towards your goal. Just try doing 10 crunches. If you can’t do 10, do 5. You can always try to bump up your number the next day or the day after.
This should take no more than 2-3 minutes.
7. Focus on what you have already accomplished
After completing step 6, get up from the floor. Take in a deep breath and think positive, self-affirming thoughts. Afterwards, reflect on all of the good things that have happened this morning. Let’s review.
(1) You stopped the negative mental checklist. (2) You have used your senses to focus on your surroundings. (3) You have taken those observations and used them as tools for gratitude. (4) You have supplied blood to your limbs and muscles and oxygen to your brain. (5) You have affirmed something positive in the mirror. (6) You have done something physically healthy for yourself. (7) You have trained your mind to focus on the positive.
Look at all that you have accomplished – which is a lot when you consider you have been up now for about 15 minutes!
It goes without saying that attending to the steps described above takes time and practice. Everything I have described here is hard-core, full on mindfulness. Change is never easy so give yourself permission to ease into these 7 good morning steps. I have included a short video that is designed to help you kick start your day and super charge your spirit.
I encourage folks who may be struggling with forms of depression, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, to use the 7 steps outlined here. This approach can help mitigate difficult times of year, such as late fall and winter.
As an aside, you can do some of these items the night before you go to sleep. Do so can go a long way in empowering sun-up time.
Having a good morning takes a focused effort. The best thing about having a good morning is they usually lead up to a fantastic day!