Routines are a great way to entrain yourself into healthy habits. And there is no better time of day to establish a strong routine than first thing in the morning. Here’s the routine that I have used to powerfully launch me into my day.
1) Maintain a media-free zone for as long as you can upon waking.
Aim for a sixty-minute buffer zone. No email, social media, TV, or radio. The first hours of your day will set the tenor for your entire day. You want to use this time deliberately to establish a day of your own design. Attending to any sort of media input from the external world puts you in a reactive mode. Your center of focus is drawn to what others have prioritized as important. Put off this engagement with the outer world while you get focused and centered on your own priorities.
2) Wake up to something inspiring.
Instead of waking to the clock radio, try programming your own wake-up music. I love to use clock feature on my cell phone to wake up to a pre-selected song: my favorite is “Love is All Around” by Sonny Curtis. This was the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore show. The song opens with the triumphant blaring of trumpets and the lines, “Who can turn the world on with her smile.” I can just see Mary tossing her hat in the air. Be careful to rotate your wake-up tunes, however, so that they don’t get stale. Here are some selections that you might want to try to bring yourself back from dreamland in an inspired way.
3) Engage in deliberate reflection through journaling.
Specifically, focus on the following:
- Reflect on the meaning of your dreams. Dreams are messages from the subconscious and we honor these inklings by questioning what they are trying to communicate to us. The more we pay attention, the more this channel will open to us.
- Write down what you are grateful for. This is one of the most powerful ways to entrain our consciousness to the positive. The more we seek out the positive, the more we will find.
- Explore your top priorities in life and work. These may depart from how you’re planning to spend your day (but hopefully not too much and not too often). Keeping our top priorities foremost in our thoughts ensures that we are mindful of how we spend our time and attention.
- Set your intentions for the day. What do you plan to accomplish today, and more importantly, how do what it to play out? Science is beginning to prove out what the ancients have understood intuitively for millennia. When we focus with deliberate intent, our thoughts have the power to shape reality. Lynne McTaggart explains the science that supports this in her mind-bending book The Intention Experiment.
- Imagine your future self in vivid detail. What will you be doing? Who will you be with? Where will you be? How will you feel? Write it down in several present-tense bullets.
4) Meditate for ten minutes.
There are dozens of approaches to meditation and the benefits are manifold. According to Eco Institute, studies of Buddhist monks during meditation found that meditation stimulates activity in the pre-frontal cortex (the area responsible for happiness); the monks’ brains had enhanced focus, memory, learning, consciousness, and neural coordination; meditation stimulates neuroplasticity. The meditation approach that I learned was taught by the folks of Self-Realization Fellowship who have kept the traditions of the guru Paramahansa Yogananda alive.
5) Add ‘basking’ on to the end of your meditation routine.
In addition to meditating in a traditional way, I recommend devoting some of your meditation time to something that I call ‘basking.’ The technique is quite simple. Select an uplifting song, something that you find triumphant and rousing, but not aggressive. Probably something without lyrics is best. My favorite song to use is Palladio by Escala. As you listen to the music, imagine that is the soundtrack to your future life: perhaps what you’re going to be doing today or in five years. Call up in your mind’s eye the specifics of what you’ll be doing, seeing, and feeling. Make it as vivid and visceral as you can. If you get goosebumps and your brain tingles a little, you’ve got it down. Just keep that up for the length of the song.
I’ve created some two-song playlists that I listen to when I meditate: they take me straight from the traditional meditation (my favorite song for that is Ajai Alai by Ajeet Kaur) right into basking time. I feel great after giving my brain this one-two jolt of energy: relaxed, confident and ready to take on the day. And the day flows better on the days when I commit to this practice. You can find my Bask playlist here.
You may be thinking, damn, that’s a pretty big time investment, right? It is, but the key word there is investment: you’re paying it forward here. By spending this time in deliberate focus, you are getting your body, mind, and soul amped up to take on the day.
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If you’d like to dive deeper on practices such as setting up a morning routine or exploring your mindset and learning how to get out of your own way, I’d love to chat. You can set up a free Discovery Session by visiting my calendar here.