Ever notice that our morning moods tend to set the tone for the rest of the day? If we feel well-rested and inspired, our day tends to unfold far more positively than if we were to wake up sleep-deprived, rushed and cranky. One way to make an investment for a positive, inspiring day is to start our mornings fully aware of the present moment.
Here are seven possible morning activities to create a mindset of present awareness that will give you the mental and spiritual alertness to truly appreciate the beautiful fleeting moments that you will discover on your own for the rest of the day.
1. Meditate in the morning, even if it’s only for five minutes. As soon as you get out of bed, sit in a comfortable position (away from your bed, to avoid the temptation of going back to sleep). Rather than mentally rushing through the daily to-do list or remorse over your poor quality of sleep, allow your mind to soak in the subtle noises that can only come from the start of a brand new day. Do you hear birds chirping, other family members cooking breakfast? Focus on your in breath and out breath, one lungful of air at a time. Do this every morning, and your days will feel sharper, clearer and more full of life.
2. Do a dry brushing cleanse before you hop into the shower. I started doing this several weeks ago, and I am officially hooked. All you need is a long-handle wooden brush with natural bristles (I bought one with cactus bristles from The Body Shop) and about five to ten minutes of your time. Before you shower, use the brush on your dry skin to exfoliate your skin, invigorate your circulation and help your lymphatic system do its job. Doing this in the mornings is not only invigorating, it also helps me become fully aware of my own body and appreciate everything that it does.
3. Massage lotion on your hands and feet. Just like dry-skin brushing before I shower, massaging lotion on my hands and feet is a soothing physical sensation that keeps me rooted in my body and not in my thoughts.
4. Really look at your coffee and tea (and other breakfast drinks). Yes, really. When you are pouring milk into your coffee, pay attention to the swirls the milk makes on the dark liquid surface of your drink. When you drop a tea bag into boiling water, watch the tea ingredients create a mist in the clear water. Smell your coffee. Savor your orange juice. Whatever you drink in the morning, it is just as alive and deserving of attention as everything else you do in your life.
5. Exercise in the morning. So much easier said than done! This is why I paid money to do yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:45 in the morning. If I know there is a class I have to go to on a specific day, then I will force myself out of bed to do it. Getting your heart beating and your body moving early in the day gives you the natural high to stay focused and present for the rest of your long and busy day.
6. Water your houseplants. I didn’t think much about houseplants until I moved in with a college friend who happens to own a fantastic collection of houseplants, potted herbs and other lovely, green, leafy things. Sharing your breakfast with a potted plant on your kitchen table really makes you appreciate the minor miracle that exists even in the most commonplace living things. Seeing new leaves uncurl, watching older leaves wilt, noticing the subtle changes the plant undergoes with the changing weather–it really puts things in perspective and helps you stay present.
7. Journal, draw, play an instrument, listen to music. Be creative. I’ve found that being creative in the morning is one of the best ways for me to feel present for the rest of the day. Before I begin the rest of my day, I make a point to spend at least a half hour to drawing in my sketchbook–because making art is my passion and it is the activity I can lose myself in doing. Why wait until I am tired at the end of the day to do what I love?
8. Wake up consistently early. Early is subjective for everyone, depending on the kind of schedule you have. (I tried joining the 5AM club for maybe two weeks before realizing that it is really impractical for my own personal schedule.) For me, “early” is whatever time that is not the easiest to wake up to, but well worth the effort to do all the things in the morning–be it journaling, exercising or cooking a big breakfast– that will help you feel truly alive and focused for the rest of the day. Here’s to more inspiring mornings that will make you feel present and fully aware of the precious life you are living right this moment.