How do you start your day?

Are you sleeping in until the very last possible second? Do you jump out of bed and race from bed to door? Do you give yourself a few minutes to connect with your own infinity within? 

Whichever of the above-mentioned scenarios most resonates with you, take a moment, right now, and tune into how your morning feels for you. Really. Just close your eyes for 30 seconds, wherever you are in your day, and imagine this morning. Did you feel a sense of joy upon waking? Dread for the coming day? Did your morning routine (or lack of one) give you a sense of peace and anticipation for the day….. or did you feel rushed, pressed for time, and barely a breakfast? 
When you visualize this morning, feel your heart. Feel your stomach. Feel your pulse rate. Do you feel it? Your body will give you immediate feedback about what your experience did to your physiology. 

Now based on how you’re feeling about your morning, think about this: you’ve heard the saying that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’? Not only is it because you’re ‘breaking your fast’ of not eating, you’re also breaking your fast of sleeping, quiet, and getting your body and mind going again. Each morning is a ‘re-set’ or a ‘re-do’. It means that you get to start it off however you’d like. YOU get to choose that.

Do you remember the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ with Bill Murray? One of my very favorite movies. Here’s a quick re-cap: Basically Bill Murray plays this pretty awful weather forecaster and gets stuck in this small town on the same day, everyday for what seems like months to all of us viewers. He tries to end his life because he hates every day that comes in again….the same scenarios, people, music. After many tries and no luck with death or change, he finally decides to start doing things differently. He decides to take a minute a be kind to an irritating acquaintance, to save a cat from a tree, to learn to play piano, and to be an all-around decent human being. What I like about this movie is that he makes a conscious choice to make real, solid change that turns his life around into something that was actually amazing and beautiful….full of connection and kindness that he didn’t have before. 

I feel that we all have this choice, every single day of our lives. Because we all are sort of ‘Groundhog Day’ers’. Every day is really like a do-over for each of us. We get to decide how things are going to go. If we didn’t like that conversation with our spouse yesterday, we get to choose to re-do and figure out better skills to improve upon that interaction. 

I find that the mornings are the best time to set an intention for the day, everyday. In my yogic tradition, we call this ‘Sadhna’ or ‘regular, daily spiritual practice’. I take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour (depending on the day and the amount of sleep I was able to get the night before) to sit down at my alter (this can be any sort of special, sacred space you set up in your home where you can find peace, quiet and strength) and pray, meditate, do my yoga and set my intentions for the day. Lately, my daughter and I have been taking about 10 minutes to sit and share our intentions for the day together. I find this time so precious and profound. To say, out loud, what I want from the day and to have a witness, makes for a super special day for me, and I know, for her as well. 

I’d like to invite you to do the same. Starting your day with stillness, consciousness and with clear intentions about how you’re going to meet the joys and challenges of your day so that you can make the most of it….living presently and consciously each moment. 

Here are some suggestions for setting the ‘re-start’ button on your day:

  • Wake up 20 minutes earlier than you normally would.This will give you the time and space to give to yourself, before you give to the world.
  • Start your day without your phone. Set a time for yourself when you’re ‘allowed’ to look at your phone and engage with the world, but do this AFTER you’ve given time to yourself
  • Create a sacred spot for yourself in your home and sit quietly for 20 or more minutes first thing in the morning. This can be an entire room or a space in a room. I have pictures of people and my saints, flowers, candles, my angel cards, shells from Africa, little statues of animals that are important to me. Whatever is special, grounding and uplifting for you, include those items
  • Do you have a yogic or breathing practice? If so, practice that. There’s lots of videos, books and audio files to help walk you through this practice. I’m including some links here if you would like some guidance. For some really beautiful music to start your day, try Snatam Khalsa’s ‘Beloved’ album. Listen while practicing a yoga set or meditation from Shakti Parwha Khalsa’s ‘Kundalini Yoga: The Flow of Eternal Power‘. I also love Dr. Deepak Chopra’s work and guided meditation tools. He has several he’s collaborated with Oprah on. These are a great way to get started on meditation, if you’re new to this area….or even if you’re a seasoned meditator
  • What about some yoga or stretching to get you going? Movement helps to stimulate the lymph and blood flow, relax stiff muscles, and open up the joints. 
  • Do you have a journal? Or someone you can sit down with in the morning to talk about what you’d like to see in this day. 
  • Prayers. Every spiritual tradition has some form of prayer. Prayer is intention. Whether you’re Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic, Native American….I don’t know of any tradition that doesn’t have a prayer to start the day. It helps to clear the mind and to focus on the positive, rather than the negative thoughts that swirl around in the mind
  • Exercise. If you’re not getting to get any movement in, walking, swimming, running, sports….anything to get the endorphins going. I find that exercise really creates so much positivity that it’s hard to get or stay angry when we feel blood flow and endorphins. 

If any of these resonate with you, or you have some ideas of your own, I invite and encourage you to start with ANYTHING that helps to change up your morning to lead you into a better, more positive day. Anything that helps you to be a better version of you… be able to love yourself so much that the rest of the day, and its’ people, doesn’t knock you around and take you out of your center. Creating a morning routine will do this for you. It will make you so strong that you’ll create the day and the life that you want for yourself, rather than being at the whim of whatever comes at you. Because setting an intention and creating your own values will steer you into the direction that’s right for you …..and not what the world wants of you. 

My Challenge to You: 

Start this week. Pick a day…any day that feels like you can get a 20-30 minute head-start for your day. 

Choose something from the above suggestions, OR find something that resonates with you to re-start your mental space for your day. 

Feel free to put into practice different formulas for your morning routine. 

Play around with what feels good and gives you a sense of joy, calm and peace

Remember that you have a choice, every single day about how your day is going to go. You can’t control everyone else or all of the situations that come your way, but you CAN choose how you’re going to respond, rather than react to them. 

Crap is going to happen. It’s just life. We all deal with it. How we choose to handle it IS our choice. Using tools like a solid, regular morning routine will give you the grit and strength to make it a better day for yourself.

I hope this helps! Health builds with regular, committed practice. Your level of vitality and well-being relies on good food, movement, positive mental attitude and a loving connection with yourself. 

Yours in health, 
Dr. Arjan

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