If you have arrived at this post you may be one of the 2 million Americans looking for ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. This certainly makes sense, a consistent mindfulness practice has been proven to improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and reduce depression. As defined by Jon Kabat-Zin, founder of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction), “mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” One can practice mindfulness formally or informally. What I would like to share today is a very informal practice that I use to start my mornings. I started this informal practice a number of years ago to keep myself from jumping on my cell phone first thing in the morning. This practice does not replace my formal mindfulness practice, but it allows me to honor my commitment to bring mindful awareness to all aspects of my life.
I start my day, head still on the pillow, by welcoming myself to the morning in the same way I would someone I deeply love. Self-compassion is an important part of my practice because it is the piece I find most challenging. “Good morning, Sunshine” or “Good morning, Lovely” is usually the greeting, but I switch it up depending on how sassy I feel in the moment. I find that offering myself a loving, kind greeting softens my face.
I then take in the sounds of morning. Often the sounds start out as unfamiliar and it takes a breath or two for me to become fully present in my body. I imagine this may happen to all of us as we transition from our sleeping state to the present moment. Next, I bring awareness to my breath, to the inhales and the exhales. I might take a deeper breath in and slowly exhale a few times. I do a body scan and take note of how my body is feeling. I focus my attention to any areas that feel stiff or tense and see if I can soften those areas just a bit. I often find tension in my jaw and, if so, I begin my morning movement by simply opening and closing my mouth a few times. I lay on my back, then slowly put my arms over my head, I feel the entire length of my body. I gently press my hands into the wall or headboard. I take a few breaths like this and then, press my heels into the mattress, gently moving my hips down toward the end of the bed while pressing my hands gently above. I bring attention to my feet. I point and flex my toes. I notice what is happening in my legs as my toes point and flex. I lower my arms down by my sides and take another moment to scan my body and see what else might feel good. I often make fists and open my hands wide, spreading out all my fingers. I take a few deep inhales, breathing down into my toes, and long slow exhales.
I slowly open my eyes completely, gently sit up, and place my feet on the floor. Before I stand, I like to notice the temperature of the floor, how my feet feel as they touch the ground. I spend a moment or two noticing this before I stand. This informal, 5-minute practice, has transformed my mornings. I find I am calmer and more at ease- until I check my phone.
Tomorrow morning, I invite you to:
- Greet yourself – have fun coming up with your own welcoming phrase, experiment
- With your eyes still closed take a moment to notice your breath
- Slowly, and with intention, scan your body, noticing what you feel, or not
- Allow the noticing to guide your morning stretch (think of a cat waking up from a nap)
- Slowly open your eyes and take in your surroundings
- Exit your bed mindfully, allowing your feet to rest on the floor a moment before you stand
Linda Snyder is the Administrative Assistant for the MBAwareness Educational Program. Linda keeps everyone on track with her magical organizational skills; her engaging personality is often the one clients see when they call or receive an email. Linda supports the MBA team in all aspects of daily business operations.
Linda and her husband travel around the country for their work in auto racing. Living proof that auto racing and mindfulness go hand-in-hand, Linda is also a 200hr yoga instructor, has an active mindfulness practice, is a health coach, and is a laughter yoga leader who believes we all must incorporate more laughter and play into our daily lives. In her free time, Linda likes to hike, dance, paddleboard, sing off-key, and spend time with family.