Every day is another chance to start over, do the things you want to do—and attempt to guide the inertia-prone mind into ‘action’, however we define this word.
Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to stay motivated or get on the right track to change, which is why New Year’s resolutions can famously be little more than a well-intentioned (or deliberate) oops kind of joke.
We can talk endlessly about why it’s so hard to move toward health, happiness and all those other things we try to incorporate into our lives without actually wanting, or craving them.
But we can also sum it up pretty quickly: we let our minds override our most basic instincts for well-being. And we can change this.
If we’re finding it difficult to wrest ourselves from our habitually sluggish morning routines, it’s probably unrealistic to expect we’ll wake up at 3:00 a.m., meditate for an hour, followed by two hours of hardcore pranayama and asana practice, with a few kriyas (cleansing) thrown in for good measure, even though we’d ultimately love to be in that place.
So, what are some more basic things we can do to improve our chances of loving the day—and our lives—that we can commit to as an early morning practice?
And that we can do in just a few minutes—before getting up for that toast (gluten optional) and coffee (or herbal tea)?
Here’s an idea for a fun and peaceful early morning practice:
Reflect on your Dreams
As soon as you’re aware that you are awake, try to remember your dreams. You can start with any fragments of the most recent dream, and without over-taxing the mind, try to let some images come to you. See if you can work those images into a clearer picture, and if you can go even further back to remember more dreams from earlier in the night.
While you do this, try not to move, even your head position. Doing this can compromise your ability to remember your dreams.
Remembering dreams can give you some insight about why you might be in a certain mood, can be a very useful tool for self-reflection throughout the day, and empowers you as you realize that you can be aware of the contents of your mind.
Say Thank You
While still in bed, eyes closed, say a silent thank you for having woken up to live another day, for the privilege of being part of the greater world all around us. Express your gratitude for having the opportunity to experience the many amazing things out there, and for the chance to work toward your own growth and happiness.
State Your Intention for the Day
Once you’ve expressed your gratitude, make an intention for the day, or re-state it if you’ve set an intention before going to bed, or if you are already working on some of your goals.
You can have the intention of being less angry, reacting to obstacles in more positive ways, achieving something particular you’ve been meaning to work on, you name it. As long as it serves you, works toward the benefit of yourself and others (or at least, doesn’t intentionally cause harm), and helps you work toward your longer term ideals.
Now, you can open your eyes, and while you’re still in bed, take a moment to look around. What do you see? Is it the way the sunlight creates brilliant patterns of light on the floor as it comes in through your curtains? The luxurious wood of the chair in the corner? Your favorite inspiring quote or photo of friends tucked into your dresser mirror?
Is your lover quietly sleeping next to you? Are you comfortable in your bed? Is the stillness of the early morning breathtaking?
Look around like it’s for the first time. Breathe in the precious space you have created for yourself.
Salute the Sun
If you can slip onto your yoga mat with ease and joy, then you can take this suggestion literally, and enjoy your practice!
You can also walk over to the window or just bask in the light (or pre-dawn sky) of early morning, and rest in this shared space with your surroundings. Take a good few moments to revel in the silence that precedes the gorgeous chaos of life.
Of course, if you have a houseful of sleeping people, now’s probably not the time to shake the house down with a laugh. But you can certainly giggle—at least a little, or in your head. Let the wonder of the new day fill you, and if that laugh inside of you is difficult to find, try to think of something really funny, or, just gently force yourself to do it.
Faking it until you make it can very well induce the real thing, and a laugh-filled early morning is a virtual guarantee you will head into your day feeling balanced, whole and full of joy.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: courtesy of the author; Hillary Boles / Flickr