We spend a lot of time sleeping – according to Scientific American, one-third of our lives are spent unconscious – and that means we also do a lot of waking up. For some of us, waking up involves hitting the snooze button several times before we eventually drag ourselves out of bed. Some of us pop right up out of bed and start the day with loads of energy. Even more of us find that waking up is an emotional negotiation more than a physical one, and we begin the day with a negative mindset.
Whatever your waking up ritual is, it can get better.
If the first thing you have to do in the morning is convince yourself that the day isn’t going to suck, or if you have to take an antacid to soothe your stomach, then you may be experiencing anxiety or depression. Talk with your therapist or doctor to make sure nothing is seriously wrong. If there isn’t a serious problem, then read on to learn how you can change the way you start your day. If the first thing you do is jump out of bed like you’re on fire, guess what, you can improve how you start your day too.
So how can you do this? By changing your mind through meditation.
Meditation has several documented health benefits, most notably knocking stress down to size and sharpening focus. It also helps us stay in the present moment, so that we can be with “what is,” instead of “what could be.” Meditation is like a snooze button for our minds, and we can sit and watch in a mindful way while deciding what to do next. If you’re wondering what all that has to do with waking up, then keep reading.
Meditation is a great way to transition out of the sleeping mind into the awakened mind. As we do in sleep, we empty our subconscious during meditation. If you wake up your mind and body in a calm, focused way, you are setting that same tone for your day. And maybe, you won’t need 17 cups of coffee to get going, or feel hectic from the moment you jump out of bed. Meditation allows you to pause and center yourself. It’s probably the healthiest way you can begin your day.
When you’re putting together your morning ritual, there are other things to keep in mind. The non-profit organization Mindful has some great tips for having a gentle “waking up” experience. The gist:
Nix the Blaring Alarms
Don’t shock yourself out of bed. It’s not good for your (or your neighbor’s) blood pressure. Start the day with the smooth jazz of Kenny G., or whatever gentle tunes you would like to nudge you awake.
Drink Water First
Your insides need a good soaking to be hydrated. Coffee and tea are diuretics, so you need to give yourself some water before taking the water out.
Give Trees a Chance
Fight the urge to go for your phone and check out your Instagram feed the second you wake up. Embrace nature and your surroundings. Perhaps brave the outdoors for a few minutes. Hug a tree if you feel like it. Then move on to the rest of your day.
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Hello, my name is Elisha Goldstein and here's your mindful minute: three mindful things you can do to start your day.
Soothing Sounds: The first thing is to take in soothing sounds. So rather than starting the day off with an alarm that makes your body tense and startled, choose an alarm - switch the ringtone or whatever it might be - to something that's a bit more soothing. Chimes, bells, more relaxing music. This will allow your body to adjust.
Taking Care of Your Body: The second thing is rather than going straight for the coffee or tea, see if you can drink a big glass of water. Your body is dehydrated - it needs water, it hasn't drank water all night long. Then move on to your coffee or tea.
Take in Nature: The third thing is to go outside, instead of grabbing your technology to begin with, and take in the sky, take in a tree. Something like that. Allow your eyes and body to take that in, then move on to starting your day.
So there you are: three mindful things to start your day.
However you shape your morning experience, your guiding principle should be kindness for yourself. You deserve it!