10 Ways To Start The Day
There are infinite ways to start each day. Here are 10 of the ways I've tried.
1. Wake up, mind a blank canvas, and just look around the room, free of judgment and worry, with a little curiosity and happy mischief. This first few minutes of the day are yours to wander before all your priorities kick in. Notice the ceiling stucco--try to zoom in on one piece of it, close your eyes, then find it again. Notice the play of shadows at this particular hour of the day. Take in the messages and art in the room (if any). Ask your body how it feels (cozy? warm?). Any sounds in the room or outside: birds, people building things, lawn care? Take a nice deep breath. Have a stretch. Look out the window. Just be present.
2. Wake up, and before your sleep has worn off, immediately check your phone notifications. Your alarm is your phone, after all. Fill your brain with news of the outside world. Don't take in the room. Don't think about your body. Skip that blissful moment of nothingness between waking and 'officially starting'. Sit in bed with your device and let all its news and advertisements and messages wash over you. Give yourself things to accomplish, and things to worry about.
3. Start your day with the word: 'refreshed', or 'aligned', or 'excited'.
4. Start your day with the word: 'tired', or 'can't', or 'no'.
5. Feel the floor with your feet. Wiggle your toes on the ground. Maybe reach up and salute the sun and reach for the floor with your hands while letting your head hang. Check in with all your tightnesses and creaks. Circle them in your mind and see if you can relax them throughout the day, or give them a boost with a little pressure from a ball, a cane, or a fingertip. Bend your knees slowly and ceremonially, letting their tendons and fluids awaken. Notice any pain, with curiosity and delicate forgiveness. Say to the pain: "you have permission to heal", with an exhale.
6. Wake up, in pain, and complain about it in your mind, post haste. Push away the idea of 'wellness' with contempt. Resent your body. Resent the pain the day holds. Tell your body to go f**k itself.
7. Choose any of the following: a breath exercise, a chant or a mantra, a song that lifts your mood, greeting the day outside, a little prayer or journal of gratitude, a gentle bit of yoga or stretching: outside or in your favorite sunny room, a sweet nuzzle of each pet, a generous 'good morning' to each of your children or housemates, a short meditation, a silly dance, a 'you can do anything good' in your bathroom mirror, 20 uninterrupted minutes of reading or journalling, a (physical or mental) walk of appreciation around your home, a ponder of an inspirational quote, a cute conversation with all your plants as you water them, a hug, or a hand on your own heart.
8. Choose nothing. Treat negative self talk or complaints and worries as the inescapable norm.
9. Be gentle with yourself and all the people who come up in your thoughts, your inbox, and your physical proximity. Be forgiving and assume positive intent no matter what the result, because life is unpredictable and we're all moving towards our own levels of improvement in a perfectly imperfect way.
10. Be hard on yourself if your morning is already not what you wanted it to be. Give up on the present moment and let whatever else happens carry you away in helplessness. Be hard on the people in your life, too, because they can never understand what you go through. Be hard on the people you disagree with in your daily interactions or in the media. Assume the worst in people you meet or have already been hurt by.
Have you tried any of these ways? What were the results? Would you add anything to your own personal list of good starts or less-than-ideal starts? Would it help you to make your own list or just observe yourself in the morning for a few days to learn what works for you and what doesn't? Try not to judge your answers. Just sit with them.