Mindful pausing at the beginning of each day is a habit that can help us centre our energy and thoughts in preparation for the challenges that lie ahead. Here are some activities that can clear the way to start the day with a stronger sense of presence and purpose.
Simple stretching with breath:
Get your blood, joints, muscles, breath and energy moving to iron out some morning kinks. From standing position, inhale raising your arms to the sky, into a slight backbend. Exhaling, bring your palms together and down through to your heart centre, fold over from the waist and with bent knees let your arms and torso hang down, feeling a lengthening from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Let those forelimbs swirl below you in the shape of an infinity sign and on your next inhale, place hands to shin and bring your spine to horizontal position in a half lift. On your next exhale, fold down again.
When our eyes take in sunrise and the blue-yellow contrast that it emits, our natural circadian rhythms and daily cycles are kick-started – our sleep-wake behaviour, hormones and cellular function. Keeping these rhythms consistent and in tune to what they would have been prior to the invention of artificial light – is essential for our health. Consistency and rhythm timed to day and night promotes sleep, aids digestion and enhances metabolism, immune and nervous system balance. 10 minutes gazing in the gentle rays of dawn heralds the wakeful day; a dark room by 10pm tells your body it’s time to rest.
Body and breath scanning:
A form of meditation that encourages us to be more present – to get out of our heads, back into our bodies and notice how we feel. Find a comfortable upright seated position and close your eyes. Using your imagination, picture a bright white light above your head. Imagine opening the top of your head and letting the light run into your skull and down every part of your body like a photocopier might scan a piece of paper. Imagine this light touching every part of your body, bit by bit as it flows from the crown of your head all the way to your toes. Notice any tension; with your imagination, actively direct this light into those places and just pause … is there a softening off in those places? Notice your breathing…is it becoming more balanced?
Our physiology creates our psychology. As the day starts to unfold, making ourselves move is one of the best things we can do for our health. The trick is to find joy, energy, creativity and restoration in our activities – to mix up our routine, find new and inspiring ways to move, listen to our bodies and ask ‘how do I want to move today’? Some days might call for more energy and action; others might call for a nourishing, slow flow yoga routine.
Wake up your digestive juices with a cup warm water and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Eating a breakfast within a couple of hours of waking up can kick-start your metabolism and set you up with steadier blood sugar levels for the rest of the day. A healthy breakfast includes lean protein, healthy fats and fibre.
Journaling and contemplating:
Many use journaling to list for example, three things they are grateful for to start the day – which is a powerful way to expand a positive mindset. A useful step further is to use your journaling to not only be grateful, but to capture how you have grown and how to move forward. Add to your gratitude list three big things you achieved the day prior, celebrate what you did well, detail what you learned and will do differently moving forward, and list out the three big ‘non-negotiables’ for a healthy day ahead.
Taking simple steps towards simple habits can sometimes simply make the difference!