Never Meditated Before? Try Starting Your Morning with These Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness means living intentionally and attentively in the present moment. If your mornings are usually hectic, practicing these short mindfulness exercises from the book 'A Mindful Morning: Start Each Day with a Clear Mind and Open Heart' can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and change the course of your whole day.

Hear the silence around you

silenceiStock/casarsaguruAs we’ve grown more comfortable with technology, we’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with silence. It has basically become an awkward space that needs to be filled with anything. But silence is be sacred. It allows you to be more attentive to yourself and the world around you. So sit for a few minutes (or more), and just listen. Hear the rhythms of your body and the external noises, sounds you would normally ignore or not even notice.

Embrace change

changeiStock/avosbThough mindfulness can make our lives feel more meaningful, it is not an attempt to find constant bliss. It requires exploring the difficult parts of our lives too, many of which are brought about by change. Write down three changes in your life, good or bad. Contemplate them. Now allow yourself to view them with a loving attitude. Think of the most loving response you can have to these changes. You will slowly be able to embrace change and spend less time worrying about it.

Let go of predictions

predictionsiStock/g-stockstudioOur primary (and, ideally, only) focus should be on what we know to be true, without making assumptions about the unknown. Take note any time you make an unpleasant prediction about your day. Maybe it sounds like “I bet this traffic will make me late” or “I’ll never be able to finish all this work.” These thoughts are often driven by expectations about how things should be and what you deserve. Make an effort to dismiss these expectations and encounter the day as it is.

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Move beyond “If only”

if onlyiStock/poikeWhile predictions look ahead, “if only” statements reflect concerns about the past. "If only I had finished my work sooner” or “If only I hadn’t given myself a cheat day on my diet.” When these thoughts cloud our minds, we struggle to make the most of what life gives us at the present moment. Write down a few of your “If onlys.” Imagine what would happen if you stopped worrying about these statements and took action about them instead.

Break out of your routine

routineiStock/lilechka75We find comfort in stability, but stability does not allow us to grow. Take a day to change up part of your morning routine. If you have cereal for breakfast every day, eat eggs instead. (Try to eat mindfully too, while you're at it.) Wear a new outfit. Take a different route to work. Throughout these changes, allow yourself to enjoy the experience. Remember the details. What else can you change in your life to expand your mind?

Immerse yourself in your surroundings

immerseiStock/g-stockstudioSometimes our inner voices can cause disturbance through worry and regret. Quieting this voice is no easy task, but you can start by becoming more attuned to your senses. Stand outside and choose one feature to focus on—the leaves on a tree, a brick wall, the sound of chimes. Immerse yourself in that one thing. Let everything else fade away. Stay this way for as long as you can.

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Make a love list

love listiStock/xijianWrite down a list of all the people, places, things, and activities you love. These are your reasons for living. Think of ways you can express or deepen your love for one of those things. This list is a great pick-me-up for when you have a bad day.

Undo negative self-talk

negativeiStock/goleroIt’s easy for us to blow unpleasant situations out of proportion, usually in thoughts like, “I can’t do anything right.” Think about your own common self-talk phrases. What made you think that way? Odds are your response does not adequately reflect what actually happened. Once you notice this, you can start to move out of that negative state of mind. Develop a more positive attitude in six easy steps.

Wait with mindfulness

waitiStock/peopleimagesThere’s a big difference between waiting in line at the DMV and waiting to greet your best friend at the airport. One gives us dread while the other fills us with excitement. Many moments in our life are spent waiting for something, and all of them are perfect opportunities to practice mindfulness. What are you waiting for this morning? Are you in line at Starbucks or about to have an important talk with your boss? While you wait, immerse yourself in your emotions, positive or negative. See how long you can stay in that in-between state.

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Release tension

tensioniStock/fizkesThis tension could be caused by physical pain or concerns tugging at your brain. Visualize them as knots. Breathe them in and exhale. As you do so, picture the knots loosening. Tell yourself that these worries will resolve in time. Practice these tips to de-stress your work day, too.

Take what comes

what comesiStock/alexaleninAs you include these exercises as part of your daily life, make a commitment to continue your journey in mindfulness. Take each day for what it is, not through rose-colored lenses or a gray cloud of doubt. Live in the moment, and those moments will lead you to peace. Explore more mindfulness exercises in A Mindful Morning: Start Each Day with a Clear Mind and Open Heart by David Dillard-Wright, PhD, available here.
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