Getting up in the morning is not everyone’s cup of tea, be it earl gray, ginger, lemon or chamomile. The day’s inevitable stresses come flooding to the forefront of your mind, your dog wants to be walked and oh yeah, the laundry.
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No matter what your day looks like, it’s easy to slip into work mode as soon as you leave the sanctuary of sleep. But what if mornings didn’t have to be so stressful?
Waking up to a simple meditation practice each morning can help you to reduce your anxiety, focus your mind and even soften your physical tension, allowing you to jump start your day with spiritual expression rather than espresso. Try following the steps below for a beautiful morning.
Get yourself out of bed before attempting any kind of meditation, or you will risk falling back asleep. Prepare your meditation space the night before, so that any candles, incense and pillows are ready for your practice.
Absolutely no electronics. Do not swipe your smart phone unless you are turning off your alarm or quickly checking the time. Let your computer, television and radio rest for a while longer as you ease into your meditation. All of these devices connect you to the external world and you need to stay focused on your internal self as you meditate.
After you have briefly made yourself comfortable (brushed your teeth, washed your hands, put on a bathrobe, etc.), settle into your sacred space. Keep the area dimly lit but not completely dark, as you are likely still feel a little groggy.
Candles are an excellent addition to meditation because of their peaceful nature and soothing natural light. If you don’t have candles, open your curtains just enough so that a little light seeps in. Next, light some incense. Orange and other citrus sticks are a good choice in the morning, as their scent provides a natural pick-me-up.
Sitting up straight but comfortable, let your eyes gently close as your palms rest facing upward on your knees. Take a long, deep breath in, holding for five seconds, then exhale slowly, releasing any tension you are holding. Next, begin a series of inhalations while counting. Start at 20, and inhale at each even number all the way down to 1.
For example, you will take a deep breath in at 20, exhale for 19, inhale again for 18 and so on until your reach the number 1. The key to this exercise is to relax your mind without drifting back to sleep, as you will be kept alert by the counting. Once you reach the number 1, exhale as long as you can, visualizing any negativity built up from your dreams or the previous day vanishing as it leaves your body. Open your eyes and enjoy the moment.
If you find Ohm chants to be powerful, then move from your 20-to-1 exercise to a series of Ohm breaths. Keep your eyes open for this, focusing on the light from your candles or the delicate trail of smoke from your lit incense.
Take a hearty breath in, and release with a strong “ooohhhmmm” sound. Don’t worry about doing this “correctly.” If you think your voice sounds funny at first, ignore your self-criticism and keep going. You will fall into the rhythm of chanting at your own pace. Repeat for 10 to 15 times.
If you prefer to begin your day with a specific intention, choose a mantra to repeat instead of your Ohm chant. Instead of picking a bulky sentence, e.g., “I want to offer a loving presence today,” choose one or two words to represent your intention, such as “I love,” or simply “love”. Begin each chant with a deep inhalation and then exhale while chanting your mantra. This can be more of a spoken chant, or a louder, more elongated sound similar to Ohm; it is up to you.
After you have finished with your chants, take one final breath in, raise your arms straight above your head and smile as wide and proudly as possible. Envision yourself as a powerful lion as you hold your arms and your smile for 10 slow seconds. Release, exhaling and enjoying the sensation.
As you go out into the world, keep your intention in mind with all that you do and remember the strength and peace with which you began your day through meditation.
If you’re a beginner to meditation, you may wish to *try out this complimentary 12 minute meditation.