My mornings were fast and useless. A time before meditation, calm, and routine. The alarm buzzed loudly at 5:20am and continued to go off every 5 minutes until 5:50am as I angrily pounded the snooze.
Rolling out of bed was the hardest part. I left myself approximately 30 minutes to get ready. Teeth, hair, makeup, pick out what to wear (ugh, the struggle). Make coffee, skip breakfast and check my work e-mail to add on the stress before frantically throwing lunch in my bag and leaving.
Like many of you, my morning routine was not really a routine, but a unpriortized number of tasks that made my mornings stressful. There are so many meme’s and jargon out there about why mornings are terrible, and everyone hates mornings, don’t talk to me until I get my coffee….blah blah blah.
It wasn’t some giant epiphany or one magic moment that changed my perspective on mornings. Nor did a routine and serenity happen overnight (pun intended). It was a series of moments, sparks of inspiration and a full year and a half that convinced me mornings are something to cherish and look forward to.
Amongst the YouTube videos, Tim Ferriss, occasional self help books, my fur babies, and a general need for sanity in my life; the most impactful decision was meditation.
The Start and End of My Practice
Approximately 6 years ago you would not have caught me even considering meditation. At this point I was still holding onto the religious beliefs I was raised with that insisted meditation was of the devil (meaning other religions) and prayer is the only form of meditation you should turn to.
Why I held onto this idea, when the rest of my life had run in the opposite direction of organized religion I am uncertain. Perhaps it was the comfort of what I had always known. Perhaps it was the comfort of living in my anxiety filled brain that I did not want to deal with. One true fact is that I am a stubborn human, and being stubborn does not open doors.
Fast forward two years filled with serious soul searching and total change in perception and you would find me twice a week (at least) sitting in a yoga studio practicing breathing and mastering my downward dog. The meditation in class was quick and centered on preparing the body for movement. I still did not label the way we started and ended our yoga practices as meditation. More as breathing or “relaxing.”
My yoga instructor talked about meditation, my books I was reading suggested it as a practice of self care, even my therapist made many attempts to have me pick up the practice.
I told myself I could not do meditation. I did not have time for meditation. My brain is too busy for meditation. I cant’ quiet my thoughts. I can’t find quiet. You name an excuse and I pretty much used it. I repeated it to myself and at others who suggested meditation.
This is a practice I was good at. As many of us are. How quickly we find a narrative of what we can or cannot do. A limiting narrative is common. One fed by our childhoods and insecurities. I had worked so hard to be a tough bad ass chick. I had worked hard to always stay busy and fill my schedule and never be called lazy. To work and work and do everything possible to avoid sitting in silence with myself. That would mean I would have to face the real shit.
Another year of therapy and facing everything from my eating disorder to the abuse I had grown up with and I was finally ready to start meditation. It took someone helping me to look inside first. I think that is the real fear for many with meditation. It is going to be pretty freaking terrible having to spend 5 long arduous minutes in silence with yourself. Much less the 30 minutes that is “highly recommended.”
So there I was. I had picked up a meditation book. One that walked you through every step. And I did meditate in the mornings for 10 minutes. Then 5 minutes. Then 3 minutes. Then I stopped. I stopped because I went right back to hitting the snooze and frantically starting my mornings. Because it was a habit and meditation “wasn’t helping” anyways.
The Start Again of my Practice
I used that excuse for a while too. That I had tried it and it didn’t work for me. That was the fall back.
There was still no giant moment or lightbulb. It was simply another morning that I woke up and on my way to work decided I cannot continue to start my days this way. I had said this many times before to the crisp morning air around me, but this time I said it to myself.
I downloaded an app and set a goal for meditation right along side my goals for savings and debt pay off. Then I decided to write down what I want my mornings to look like and feel like.
There were a few stumbles for sure, but once I committed it to myself and to paper it was going to happen.
Now my mornings are productive and fulfilling. I wake up at 5:20ish to a bird and nature sound plus the Phillips natural sunrise alarm clock. I slip into a warm robe and slippers and spend about 15 minutes in front of the mirror getting ready. I then make coffee and eat avocado toast or have a smoothie. I pet our dog and our cat.
Then I sit down to meditate. Headspace is the app I turn to and is very flexible in packs of material and time slots. You have to pay for a year, but it helps with the commitment. My meditation is better some days than others. Just as we are better humans some days compared to others.
After meditation I pause stretch. Drink more coffee. Then I share any of our materials we create. Each day I share something from our blog or my photography blog. After this I get dressed in the clothes I picked out the night before, grab my pre-packed lunch, kiss HisFI and head out the door by 6:45am. Not frantic. Not always anxiety free. Instead, I head out the door with myself and my body. I head out knowing I gave them time to breath.
While meditation is not the only thing that improved my mornings it was the thing I give the most credit to for the following reasons:
- Reduces Anxiety
- Allows Reflection of Your Body
- Connects Mind to Body
- Deep Breathing in the Morning Massages and Awakens the Organs
- Self Care and Self Love
- A Release of the Mind allows for precise focus and productivity later on
- Allows the mind to sort thoughts
- Resets narratives
Here are the practices for the morningthat allow the time and space for meditation:
- No e-mail period. It is an insane time suck.
- No phone until AFTER meditation (use your phone with app only). Even then, keep it productive such as sharing your latest post on Twitter.
- Get ready (minus getting dressed) before even leaving your bedroom. Do the hair and the face or whatever you need. Spend the time on you.
- Clothes out the night before. Seriously one of the best prepping habits possible. Get rid of decision fatigue.
- Pack your lunch the night before from left overs. Again- no decision fatigue and saves you money.
- Find breakfasts you don’t need to cook. Fast and quick.
This routine took me a year and a half to perfect and I still have good days and bad days. No matter how I feel, I still find space for that meditation. For the time for myself. It is essential to my well being.
In case you still need to be convinced, I recently watched a documentary on Netflix titled Yoga: The Architecture of Peace. It sorts the photographer Micheal O’Niells 10 year journey of yoga. The photographs will give you goose bumps and the interviews with the yogis will inspire and connect you with meditation and have you contemplating the deeper meanings in life. Two of my favorite things, photography and yoga, collided in this film and blew my mind.
Another resource is the Lavendaire, who totes meditations benefits all over her YouTube and blog. Here is one on How to Meditate.
Do you meditate? How has it assisted in your life? When do you meditate? I would love to hear about your practice or even lack there of.