I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a “mindful morning” kind of person. While I have a great deal of respect for those who are, no matter how many “ways to rock your morning” articles I read, I can’t imagine a time when I’ll be setting my alarm and hour early and rockin’ the crap out of a morning routine on a daily basis. (In fact, as I was writing this, I was considering whether or not a bribe would be effective in order to make that happen).
That said, even though I press snooze a minimum of twice every morning—I’ve found a couple of small strategies that help me to dislike those early moments a whole lot less.
No, not like those creepy x-ray machines at the airport. This is about taking a few minutes to be intentionally aware of our physical beings. I start at the bottom and work my way up. For me, this has become a mindfulness practice. If I try to start my day with meditation, I’ll inevitably end up on an unintentional second date with the sandman—and although this might sound counter-intuitive, I think I need caffeine first.
Body scanning has allowed me to come into my body without feeling rushed. I don’t feel like I need to sit up and get to work right away. I start by wiggling my toes: “hello, toes” I say, sleepily smiling. Next are my ankles. “hi there.” It’s interesting, because I’ve often found that there’s a temptation to bail on this practice about halfway up my body. I figure that’s because I’ve started to wake up, and as a result, think about all of the to-do’s and to-be’s of the day. It’s been a practice all on its own just to stay present and focused on my body, from the bottom to the top.
For a time, I participated in coaching with the powerhouse couple behind Hug Your Chaos—who I met because they too contribute here at Elephant. One of the key takeaways from my time with them was gratitude—being grateful (on purpose) about three things at both the beginning and end of each day. I was interested to find that my body scan actually led me to gratitude.
I’m not always grateful for my body. As someone who was born with mobility issues, it’s sometimes easier to find reasons to gripe than reasons to be grateful. By completing a body scan each morning, I find myself grateful for the functions of my physical body and the ways in which it allows me to live in this world and experience the things I love—like singing, writing, community, and working here at Elephant Journal.
I recently read a meme shared by one of our Elephant Academy TAs that said: “Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts.” At first I was like: “Whoa. That’s a bit woo-woo”, but then I thought: “what if it’s true, though?” If, in fact our physical bodies are affected by our thoughts, wouldn’t it be nice to give our bodies a break from trying to process information and stimuli—just for a few minutes? Our only focus would be the body and its functions. It’s kinda like closing all of the open tabs on your browser—except one.
Every self-care article out there reminds us that checking in with ourselves is just as crucial (if not more!) as checking in with our close friends. If we took a few minutes each morning to slow down, forget the pressures of productivity and simply say “thank you, body”—what harm would it do? In fact, I can imagine an audible exhale.
If mental notes aren’t your thing, by all means—write it down! Keep a notepad and pen by your bed if that feels good to you. Nobody said had to be fully dressed and out of bed in order to give thanks.
Since my immediate impulse after multiple dances with the snooze button is to check my social media and email notifications, I’d been searching for a way to rewire that pattern. What I like to do now is take a deep breath in and notice what information my five senses are giving me. What can I hear? What do I see, smell, taste, and touch?
Typically, my first sense to come alive is that of hearing. Whether it’s the workers at my apartment building diligently scraping ice from our Canadian winter walkways, or the cawing of crows saying hello (or, less poetically, “get outta my tree!”) sound is the first thing I’m greeted with, sense wise.
This feeds back to gratitude as well. I’m grateful for the ability to hear, I’m grateful for those who help to keep my physical body safe from harm (slipping on ice is an extra hazard for me due to those aforementioned mobility issues) and I’m grateful for crow songs—as they remind me of my grandfather. Actually, I think I could be grateful for any sound at all, since any sound has the ability to become music.
I always thought that popping out of bed like bread from a toaster was the adult thing to do, and that this would be how I’d one day know I’d reached adulthood. Well, thirteen-year-old me, you were gravely mistaken. I still love sleeping in when I can, and the only noticeable difference in my morning routine is that I watch reality TV instead of Saturday morning cartoons when I’m feeling comfy-cozy on the weekends.
These days I’m less concerned about feeling “adult” (read: productive) first thing in the morning, and more focused on feeling present, grateful, and aware.
What helps you rock your morning? Have you noticed a difference in your day-to-day life because of body scanning, sensing, or gratitude? I’d love to share some tips and tricks in the comments.
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