April 18, 2016

Rising & Shining: 5 Steps to a Peaceful Day.

Frank Lanigan/Unsplash

“To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” ~ Kahlil Gibran


Shades of pink and orange stain the sky just over the horizon of Lake Michigan. The song birds fill the air with sweet melodies, while hidden among the budding spring tree limbs.

It is the break of dawn, my favorite time of day. I find the quiet stillness of morning hours to be a time to treasure, and the feeling of solitude, within a metropolis, to be important.

This was where my passion for the morning was born.

I know, for many, the morning is a dreaded time of day. Alarm clocks wailing in our ears, children and pets running in to make their presence known, and the beginning of a potentially mundane yet chaotic morning. As I began practicing a new early routine, it dramatically changed the hours in my day. I found I had more energy, a happier disposition and increased productivity.

Here are a few steps I have discovered to aid in a peaceful day, each and every day.

1. The wake-up.

Find a way to make waking as peaceful as possible. My dog generally acts as my alarm. I hear the soft swish of her tail against the carpet along with a quiet whine, as she patiently sits next to my bed waiting for me to open my eyes. I also set the intention before falling asleep what time I want to wake. My internal clock has always been fairly accurate, and over the years I have trained it well.

If you do not have the gentle sounds of a pet or the ability to wake yourself, choose a sound, music, or natural rhythm to wake to rather than the classic buzzing. The harshness of a standard alarm may abruptly end your sleep cycle and could cause immediate stress. Being soothed awake gives your body and mind time to come to the present moment rather than being startled, often making us feel more tired.

If you are able, embrace the ability to awake with the sun. Allow the natural glow to shine down on you, gently caressing you awake as the light intensifies.

2. Keep the smartphones and tablets off.

I know I have fallen victim to gazing into the glow of my iPhone before bed, my final scan of the day’s activities. Exposure to blue light prevents your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that aids in sleeping, which will ultimately affect our ability to fall asleep and stay there. Keeping the tablets and smartphones off at bed time already begins the course for a successful morning.

My addiction to social media left me curious to see what transpired throughout the night, but at times left me feeling anxious and constantly checking the feed numerous times in the early hours. Personally, I have found keeping the electronics off when I wake has dramatically affected my production throughout the day. I made the commitment to keep my hands off my mobile devices until after I grounded myself. I discovered my attitude was more positive and I spent less time trolling the media feeds, redirecting my energy in a more beneficial way.

3. Set your intentions.

“Starting your day with an intention will leave you willing and available to say “no” to what is not serving you in your life.” ~ Juliet Turalski, Julesinspired International

Even as you continue to lay in bed, set your intentions for the day ahead. It could be things as specific as what you will wear, a step-by-step to-do list for the day’s activities, or as general as saying, “I have a successful, efficient, and productive day ahead.” No matter what you set as your intentions, meditate on them throughout your morning routine. You will find, even without writing them down, you stay that course and often complete tasks earlier than may be expected.

Keep your intentions set in a positive and healthy tone. While setting my intentions for the day, I will curl into child’s pose, letting my forehead press into the floor and deep breaths reach down to my hips. The soothing nature of this pose and the slight pressure on my forehead helps to ground and slowly awaken my body. My mind clears and I am able to easily define my day’s purpose.

4. Move your body.

Find some sort of physical activity that helps to get your blood flowing and heat up your body. Some of us may head to the gym for vigorous workouts, while others may opt for a simple stroll outside. Whatever activity, whatever the intensity, find some way to dedicate at least 30 minutes to morning exercise. This will get the endorphins working, help you maintain any type of diet or weight-loss plan, and have increased energy throughout your day.

During your exercise, it is also a great time re-visit your intentions and get more specific about each point. I have found walking and jogging each morning to be my outlet. I am not a gym person, a fact I fully and graciously accept. I enjoy the early morning air, the glowing sunshine, and the feel of the wind in my face. It both invigorates and motivates me. Yoga has also become a significant portion of my morning ritual, both in class form and home practice. The strengthening, breathing, and overall pause I experience in an early yoga session helps to further clear my mind, center on my intentions, and condition my body.

Embrace your favorite form of movement in the morning and don’t be afraid to change it up. Some days I may even dance around my home, if I’m feeling really inspired.

5. Nourish your body.

Do not skip breakfast! As the old saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Reach for something that nourishes the body, rather than depletes it. Avoid the sugars and solely carbohydrate-rich options. Grains, fruits, and proteins will adequately fuel your body with the necessary energy it needs. Making wise choices in the morning will help you make smart choices throughout the rest of the day. As a result, you will be more apt to reach for the salad rather than the slice of pizza.

A few of my favorite morning choices include: hard-boiled eggs with grapes and bacon, granola and vanilla yogurt sprinkled with fresh berries, and when I’m having a sweet tooth day I love pancakes. If breakfast food is not your favorite, eat what your body is asking for. Our bodies do not recognize breakfast, lunch and dinner, simply meal one, two or three.  There are many days when my first meal is a beautiful salad with various veggies and grilled chicken or avocado and garlic toast. Choose whole foods and try to limit the processed ingredients.

Mornings may never become your favorite thing. These are a few of the practices I have discovered to kick off a successful day. I also enjoy sipping some tea and journaling about my intentions. I know it can seem cumbersome to accomplish all of these steps in a single morning, especially when your household may be filled with distraction. Start a new routine slowly, implement one step at a time until you feel comfortable, then add to it as you carve out the new regimen.

Begin the process of a peaceful morning when you go to bed and plan for time to get grounded. Our minds and bodies will be poised to handle any situation with ease.

Embrace the beauty, calm and bliss that exists in the morning hours.


Author: Christine Hein

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Frank Lanigan/Unsplash

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