By Pia Das • February 23, 2018•Writers in Residence, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
Mindfulness brings you into the present moment of your current experience rather than remembering the past or anticipating the future. It teaches us that we can be aware of our thoughts without judging them as right or wrong, pleasant or unpleasant. They are simply just thoughts. To practice mindfulness, start by becoming aware of your thoughts, sensations, and feelings. Eventually through repeated practice, you can access the quiet "observer" within you who is only noticing what is happening in your surrounding environment without getting swept away by thoughts and feelings.
The morning is a great time to practice mindfulness as the morning can set the tone of your entire day. It is easy to wake up and immediately plug into the news or social media. The problem with doing that, however, is that you can then easily get carried away into negativity which can unfortunately color the rest of your day.
Here are some practices to start your morning off in a more positively mindful way.
1. Repeat an affirmation or mantra. Repeat a simple positive phrase to yourself over and over again. It could be something such as, "I am love," "I am at peace," "All is well," or "Om." When you stay focused on such a phrase you begin to pull yourself away from an automatic and unconscious thought pattern to a more consciously positive mindset. When you repeat your affirmation over and over again, you are planting mental seeds for creating a new way of thinking which ultimately leads to more positive experiences.
2. Exercise. Exercising releases endorphins. These endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body, while diminishing the perception of pain. Oftentimes, a run or workout can create a feeling of euphoria. Endorphins can also lead to a more positive and energizing outlook on life. Everyone's body and physical needs are unique, so find a type of exercise that works for you, whether it's running, yoga, dance, or going to the gym. Just get moving and get those endorphins flowing.
3. Meditate. Meditation is a practice of thoughtless awareness. It is finding a quiet space in between thoughts and not allowing yourself to be controlled by unconscious thought patterns. In other words, it's a way to clear your mind and clean out any negative thoughts that are not serving you. There are various meditation practices and traditions. The practice of mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe thoughts as they float through the mind. The intention is not to get wrapped up in the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each thought as it arises. Start with a meditation practice that reasonates with you. Begin with short periods of time and work your way up. Don't beat yourself up if you find yourself repeatedly getting caught up in your thoughts. Remember that quieting the mind takes time and consistent practice.
4. Make a graditude list. Gratitude is associated with happiness. Looking for reasons to be grateful helps you tune into more positivity in your life. We are often rushing through life, forgetting about people, situations, and things that are near and dear to our hearts. We lose sight of the present moment and can get wrapped up in awaiting the future or ruminating about the past. Instead try starting your morning off by offering gratitude to what you have right now. You can start with simple things, such as "I am breathing," "there is a roof over my head," "I have water to drink," "I care about others," or "the sun is shining." Beginning your morning with thankfulness creates a ripple effect of positivity that will help you find the silver lining even on bad days.