A Good Morning with Gratitude
So often we might get up in the morning and just go through the motions of our morning routine. We are on “auto-pilot” not stopping to be intentional other than to maybe think of what we want in our lunch pack today as we shower, get dressed, eat our breakfast and rush out the door!
Our morning rituals are important. How we get up sets the theme for our day. On those days that I’m intentional about a mindful practise – be it meditation, a mindful walk, deep breathing or gratitude, my day flows and I am set-up with more energy, peace and joy. On those days I don’t pause, for whatever reason, however (and the reason usually sounds good to me in the moment!) I can find myself feeling agitated, rushed, stressed and definitely not focussed or at peace!
I had one of these less-than-ideal mornings the other day. I woke up feeling …just wrong. I felt agitated and annoyed for no reason and I wasn’t even able to come to peace on a mindful walk. It was like my mind was racing at a 1000 miles an hour and the tension I felt growing in my body, especially in my chest, was really noticeable.
Near the end of the walk I came to a bridge, that I love so much, and decided to stop. I figured this spot was special to me so perhaps it had what I needed to “pull myself” out of this uncomfortable feeling. I stood there for a bit and took several long, slow breaths. Each time my thoughts attempted to race through my mind I intentionally fixed my gaze on something in front of me – a bird, the bubbling water, a reed - to notice everything I could about it.
The shift wasn’t instantaneous, but it did happen. I simply stood there and breathed and gazed till I felt it. Initially it was only small but peace started to rise up – almost like a peace-bubble inside my chest – that brought such relief and calm. The smile that rose to my face wasn’t forced, it just settled as an expression of the joy I was also feeling. The calm that came to my thoughts and body were like a long, cool drink for my thirsty soul.
I then reminded myself of why I place such high value on my morning rituals, because they work! They set me up for a good day. They set me up with a smile, peace and a much better foundation to tackle the issues of a day than annoyance do! (Especially for my colleagues and family!!)
What are your morning rituals? What gives you space and calm in the morning? – share them with me in the comments below.
Rituals don’t need to take long. For some a morning meditation is do-able, for me, I only meditate in the mornings when I’m working from home because I’m not brilliant at being awake before the sun! A mindful walk might be more your thing – connecting with the ground as you walk and focussing on your surroundings, as opposed to mindlessly walking. Or perhaps intentionally pausing to take 10 slow-deep breaths before heading out the door.
On busy mornings I find a simple thing like deep breathing partnered with turning my intention to gratitude, often as I stand under the shower, is even enough. I envisage the heaviness or stress wash away as the sudds wash down the drain. I then intentionally remind myself of things I'm grateful for – my husband, family, job, finances, home… each day it might be different, but the result is the same. Joy and gratitude for what I do have rises to the surface.
You might say, “But how can I be grateful if I’m suffering with a chronic illness?” “Or I’m flat broke, what’s to be grateful for?” There is always going to be some area of our lives that isn’t right, that doesn’t measure up to our expectations. I’ve personally experienced quite some years of chronic pain and sickness as well as years of living hand-to-mouth financially. In all honesty though, a grateful mindset was the only thing that kept me sane for much of that time!
What we focus on becomes our greatest reality so when my gut didn’t function properly I would be grateful for my legs that enabled me to walk. Or if I was in pain in my back, I was grateful for my mind that could still remain strong. If I needed new winter PJs for my boys I’d be grateful that the weather hadn’t turned super cold yet so that their summer shorts were still enough. I chose to focus on what did work and what I did have and to be grateful for that.
No matter our lack there is always, yes, always, something to be grateful for. I’m not suggesting it’s always easy to be grateful, some days it's can actually be pretty tough, but it is possible.
I’m not perfect, I’ve had my moments of self-pity when I’d rather cry than be grateful, but those moments definitely didn’t make me feel any better or bring me peace! So when I’m tempted to go down that path I quickly remind myself of the consequences of self-pity: sadness, depression, anger, frustration, fear, doubt… Not quite what I know I need or want.
Gratitude, on the other hand, brings joy. It brings freedom. Gratitude brings compassion. And, gratitude brings strength, the "no-situation-is-going-to-take-me-down!" kind of strength! Ultimately gratitude also gives you peace. A peace down to your very core. A peace that knows your life isn’t perfect and yet, it does have so very much to be grateful for.
Let’s just pause pause for a second right now and make this really practical. Take a moment to see what you have to be grateful for.
Bring those things or people to your attention as you turn to being grateful. Those good things, those good people in your world. Now, as you focus on these things/people simply acknowledge your gratitude for them or say a quiet “thank you”. Really notice the good. It’s like your sending the people or things a silent smile, a "thank you" whisper through the atmosphere.
…. [Don’t go on reading till you’ve brought a few things to your attention.]
Now note how this makes you feel. Where did your mind go? What was your facial expression like? Your level of stress?
If you’ve not noticed a change repeat the exercise, but this time taking some slow, deep breaths while you do it. If you get distracted return your attention to your breathing and then to gratitude.
Did this affect you differently? Did you sense the peace rising within?
Will you try getting up each morning with some gratitude? It need only take a couple of moments but I’m certain, that as you practise - and yes, it may take practise - you will be setting up your day with a wonderful foundation of peace and joy. Only a few moments has potential to have a huge effect.
Much peace my friend!