This week, we’re looking at ways in which we can start each day with even a minute of self-care to transform the day ahead.
When you think about your ideal morning self-care practice, what do you imagine? We’re all different and it’s about honouring that so we can create things that work for us.
For me, personally, I learned to meditate during my crystal therapy training (2000-2004 -click HERE) and it was enhanced with many other trainings over the years (including my psychosynthesis counselling (HERE) and yoga therapy (HERE) for stress (HERE), anxiety (HERE) trauma (HERE) and resilience (HERE)). For some trainings, eg the yoga therapy, it was a compulsory practice. And I always felt guilty about NOT being ‘perfect’. About lapsing into Metta meditation instead of sticking with ‘pure’ mindfulness for 3 hour slots on a retreat.
It was only when I saw Jon Kabat-Zinn speak in London in March 2013 that I finally created a daily practice that worked for me. He is credited with bringing mindfulness meditation out of the monasteries and into secular society and his relaxed approach (‘This is what works for me, do what works for you’) helps me drop years’ of resistance and enjoy it.
I now start each morning with:
- quick journaling (noting my strange dreams)
- choosing an oracle (currently the Earth Magic deck) card and angel card
- a Metta (loving kindness) meditation which also helps me visualise the day ahead
- some space clearning for myself, my home and any other spaces I’ll be working in that day
- some EFT (tapping – click HERE) whether for something that feels icky and in need of release or, more often now it’s a daily practice, simply gratitude or visualising something going really well and
- some yoga. Some days, this will be a ‘proper’ practice. Other days, even one or two poses.
All of these practices are for my benefit, to help me start the day by connecting with that stillness, asking for guidance etc.
Some days, all of this takes less than 20 minutes. Other days, more than an hour. Personally speaking, putting this time in helps so much it’s a given and I haven’t missed a day since March 2001 (although the practices evolve and are sometimes literally a few minutes).
On mornings where Rainbow Magnificat is sleeping peacefully and happy to hold paws during the meditation, I feel especially fortunate. You might have a far more hectic lifestyle and find my little list above as unimaginable as the idea of a delux yoga retreat in Bali.
This is simply my morning routine, shared here to help you think about what might help you start the day in a way that makes the rest of your day much easier.
In terms of mine, I remember Diana Whitmore (she had trained with Roberto Assagioli, the creator of psychosynthesis) saying about filling her counselling rooms with Good Will before each client and how, on a day where she forgot to do this, she felt as if her clients were slapping her in the face.
In my experience, everything flows more smoothly when I take that time for myself first thing. It’s my version of making myself presentable.
If you have a baby or animals, it might be simply being fully present as you say morning to them. It might be a solitary cup of whatever your morning drink is. Maybe it’s watering a plant. Having a little dance. Anything at all. Your self-care routine doesn’t have to be complicated or lengthy, it’s just something you do as automatically as brushing your teeth which helps you prepare for your best possible day ahead.
It might be lying in bed for a couple of extra minutes, imagining the day unfolding as fantabulously as you can possibly imagine.
If mindfulness appeals, the video below offers a very simple breath practice that helps us come into the present moment, notice our breath and, with practice, help us feel less stressed or anxious, calmer and more alert. We’re breathing 24/7 without having to consciously do anything.
This means that something as simple as conscious breathing or mindful breathing has enormous benefits. We’re strengthening the prefrontal cortex making it easier to make better decisions, regulate our emotions, soothe ourselves and relate to others.
We’re also sending signals from the body to the brain, via the Vagus nerve, telling the brain that we’re safe. All is well. This then helps calm the whole system far more effectively than if we were to simply tell ourselves to calm down. 80% of the signals between the body and the brain, via the Vagus, go up from the body to the brain.
As with anything, the more we practice, the easier it gets. I would far rather get up at 4am to ensure time for myself to do this before heading out at 6 on the (thankfully rare) days I have such early starts. It’s not always easy. The other day, I got so distracted doing my morning meditation, I got up and walked away from myself* – twice!
That had never happened before and I sat back down to continue but it gave me valuable information about my headspace. In the past, I’d have beaten myself up for not being ‘better’ at meditating. That day, I gave myself a mental hug and shifting things to make the day ahead that bit easier for me instead of charging headfirst into hecticness.
You may be reading this thinking you don’t have time. That’s information. Your practice might be something like brushing your daughter’s hair and being fully present or hugging your partner ‘bye and connecting with them instead of being on autopilot. Maybe it’s one yoga pose (click HERE for some ideas). It might be reading a favourite website or book or listening to a piece of music that helps you put your best foot forward.
What one – teeny – thing would you like to add to your morning self-care practice or start doing to create such a practice for yourself?
Nothing is set in stone – it’s about experimenting. As above, it took me 13 years before I found something that worked consistently well for me.
[UPDATE:] I’ve created a mini meditation download for you to boost your self-care in under 5 minutes a day. Access it HERE
I’d love to hear what you’d like to do and what already works for you.
*I was identifying more strongly with my mind than any other part of me that day, clearly