When you first woke up this morning, did you take a deep breath as you opened your eyes? Noticed the water as it made contact with your body whilst showering? Chewed slowly and savouring every bite whilst eating your first meal of the day? And did you notice the objects in your environment on your way to work? The chances are, probably not. You most likely spent much of your day on ‘automatic pilot’ and did all of these things in the morning without any intention or purpose, not even aware of how you got to work.
One of the greatest gifts we have as human beings is the ability to be able to think about the past, the present and the future. We tend to spend majority of our waking lives however, ruminating about a past that we have no control over, and catastrophizing about a future that has not yet happened. The moment right now, the present, is what we do have control over, and unfortunately this is where we spend the least amount of time. This is where mindfulness comes in.
To incorporate mindfulness into your day and bring your awareness to the present moment (that doesn’t involve sitting cross legged and looking as peaceful as Buddha), the activities in this article are ways that you can consciously attend to the here and now.
Incorporating mindfulness into your morning
When your alarm wakes you from your deep slumber and all you want to do is hit the ‘snooze’ button, resist the urge and lay on your back with your eyes closed and take three deep breaths. Notice the breath as it enters and departs your body.
As you start to crack open your eyes, take a big stretch to loosen up your muscles and prepare for the day. Observe any sensations in your limbs after stretching out.
As you roll out of bed on your preferred side, notice what happens when your feet make first contact with the ground. Feel the ground beneath your feet, and remember to appreciate the fact that you have been able to get out of bed to take strides.
As you start to wake up in the shower, feel the water as it cascades down your body. Notice whether the water is warm or cool, and place your attention on the parts of your body where the water makes most contact.
When eating breakfast, notice all of the colours, flavours, and textures of your meal. If you prepared your own meal, how does it make you feel?
When brushing your teeth, feel the toothbrush as it glides over your teeth and gums. If thoughts about the day ahead, or what you’re going to cook for dinner that night intrude, gently observe the thought, and watch it pass on by as you re-focus your attention on the present (breathing, water in the shower, eating breakfast, brushing teeth etc.)
On your commute to work, notice and/or feel the objects in your environment. If you are driving, feel the texture of the steering wheel beneath your hands and fingers. If you are taking public transport, how does the seat feel when your body makes contact? What are the smells you notice? If riding or walking to work, what do you notice about the colours of the trees? How does the wind feel on your face?
These are some of the mindfulness activities you can engage with before even arriving at work, that will over time when practiced consistently, will change the structure of your brain for the better (think; better able to manage stress, less reactive, enhanced compassion for others, better able to control emotions), and the benefits don’t stop there.
The more that you engage in these morning mindfulness practices and activities, the more likely it is that mindfulness will become a daily habit (similar to exercising, brushing your teeth, your morning coffee). As you continue to incorporate this habit into your routine, you may start to notice when you are not being mindful; when your mind starts to wander and your ‘automatic pilot’ switch flicks on, and you can bring yourself back into the present moment, the here and now.
These exercises are not limited to the morning. They can be incorporated into your day through many different activities and exchanges.
Article by guest blogger Kelley Reynard of www.bodyzcompass.com.au