Beep, beep, beep! If your alarm goes off and you're immediately thinking about the errands, deadlines and chores you have ahead of you before your feet even hit the floor, you're setting yourself up for a hectic 10 or 12 hours. But what if you had power over how your day unfolds and how you approach the events to come? What if just five minutes could mean the difference between feeling frenetic and feeling in control?
Instead of setting the tone for a stressful day by rushing through your morning routine, commit just five minutes of your morning to mindfulness to create a sense of calm that will carry you through whatever your day might throw your way. The following two practices are meant to be done first thing in the morning, just as you are waking up—before your feet hit the floor or you even pick up your phone.
Your Breath Practice
Step 1: Using pillows, prop yourself up into a seated position in your bed. Your legs can be crossed or extended, whichever is most comfortable. Allow your hands to rest in your lap, and keep your eyes slightly open with a downward gaze. Extend up through the crown of your head as you feel gravity moving your shoulders down and away from your ears. As you sit with a nice long spine, notice how you can feel its natural curves. Pay attention to the weight of your body seated on the bed.
Step 2: Pay attention to your breath. Experiment with the feeling of breathing in and out of your nose. This may seem a little awkward at first. If you need to return to your normal breathing at any time, feel free to do so. Pay attention to where you can feel your breath the most clearly: the tip of your nostrils, your throat, the rise and fall of your chest and belly.
Step 3: Breathe in and then breathe out to a count of one. Nothing fancy or super deep, just a comfortable inhale and exhale. Now, breathe in and out to a count of two. In your head, you may be saying, "inhale, exhale, one," or "in, out, two." Do this until you reach 10. Challenge yourself to focus on each inhale and exhale with a laser focus, as if it is the most important thing for you to do in that very moment. Do not go beyond 10.
Step 4: Open your eyes fully. Take a deep inhale as you stretch your hands up over your head toward the sky. Exhale to bring them back down to your sides. Move yourself to sit on the edge of the bed, placing your feet on the floor. Notice the feeling of your feet on the floor and wiggle your toes a few times.
Step 5: Begin your day!
Your Gratitude Practice
Step 1: Sit at the edge of your bed with your feet planted on the floor. Keep your eyes open with a slight downward gaze. Take three nice full and deep breaths in and out. Feel your breath as it opens you up to a new day.
Step 2: Think about a person in your life for whom you are grateful. Someone who you appreciate and enhances your life. It can be a person who is quite close to you (friend or family member), moderately close (co-worker) or someone you see every day but might not know intimately (mail-carrier). Bring a clear image of this person to your mind. Take three nice deep breaths as you clarify your image of that person.
Step 3: Focus on trying to see them in your mind's eye. Think of looking in their eyes. What are their facial features? How do they wear their hair? What is their style of clothing? How did you come to meet and know them? What is one characteristic of this person that really stands out to you? What do they mean to you? Notice what it feels like to think of this person.
Step 4: Pick up your phone and send a kind text or email to someone in your life telling them you appreciate them and why. Do not let this take more than two to three minutes. The person you reach out to does not have to be the person you were thinking of—it can be anyone that you are grateful for in that moment.
Step 5: Begin your day!