The alarm buzzes and you’re in the zone between asleep and awake – and what you do at this moment can make a huge difference to your day.
In yoga, during the sun salutations, you’ll often hear the instructor say: “now set your intention for the day”. It’s all about creating an awareness of your thoughts, and choosing what thoughts to focus on.
Most people’s first thoughts on a workday are negative (I’ve got to get up NOW and I’m sooo tired, I’ve got to get that report done by 11am, I’ve got to go grocery shopping at lunchtime, I’ve got to go to the dentist after work) – all of which gets your mind on a negative track. And what you think about grows: so if you start your day thinking about the bad stuff you have coming up, your mind will helpfully find other bad stuff to add to the list!
So do this instead – take a couple of deep, slow breaths, and think of the day ahead, focusing on the good things that will happen today. Yes, there are bad/boring/difficult things to come (in most days), but find the good ones, then spend a few moments focusing on them, enjoying them before they even happen.
When you start the day with a positive rather than negative mindset, it changes everything. Your mood, your physical alertness, how you react to events and others, and more.
Try it tomorrow. It will make a difference, I promise!
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash
We are simply committing ourselves to paying attention to our life. We use meditation to help us in that attention process. We are not trying to become good meditators. We are trying to wake up.
~ William Martin
When you take the emphasis off the effort of being mindful and onto the results you’re trying to achieve, it becomes easier.
Mindfulness is only the vehicle: it’s just a method you can use to get you to where you want to be.
It is not something in itself to focus on – the journey itself and the destination are far more important.
Focus instead on just being aware of this present breath, this present moment, and your space in it.
One breath at a time.
One of the quickest ways to calm down and become mindful is to take a few deep breaths.
Breathing is something that we do so unconsciously that we’re not aware we’re doing it. Taking conscious control of our breathing helps to calm us down and helps us focus.
It can be hard to become aware of your breathing. The easiest way to connect with your breath is to take a few, abnormally deep and slow breaths first, holding the incoming breath for one second before letting it out again. Once you’ve done this a few times let your breathing pattern return to normal, but keep your focus on it. If you find this difficult (and I do – my mind loves wandering off to explore corners of my brain that it hasn’t visited for a while) try to concentrate on the sensation of the breath entering and leaving your body.
You might feel it in your nostrils, or your throat, your lungs, or your stomach – wherever you feel it is the place you should focus on. For me, it’s the lungs – on an inhale I feel my chest expand and rise, and my back straighten – on exhale my chest falls and my back goes back to it’s normal position.
Take time to try to ’feel’ the pause between breaths (this is hard because there is nothing going on, but try anyway).
If you lose focus – or more likely, WHEN you lose focus, don’t be harsh and judgemental of yourself. Don’t immediately think that this simple act is beyond your capabilities. Just smile gently and bring your attention back to your breath. Be prepared to do this often – your breath is like a naughty child who will wander off again and again once your back is turned. Just keep bringing it back, bringing it back….and gradually it will learn to stand still. Hopefully.
COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS WELCOME!