Center yourself - Clear the chaos!
So. I wake up to an alarm at 7 a.m. I am tired and drag myself out of bed. Bleary eyed, I get dressed and ready. I move slower than I think at that time of day, and before I know it, it's already 7:37. If I don't leave right now I will be late...I probably already am.
Soon after, I'm running up the stairs, (thank you broken escalator) hoping - albeit unrealistically - that I will catch the metro that just zoomed over my head into the station. I don't. So, now sweating, I wait for the next one, standing in the awkward shame that is running up to a metro door closing in your face. SMH. Now I'm definitely going to be late.
And in my scramble out the door, I forgot my planner.
And my lunch.
And my sunglasses.
"SMH. Now I'm definitely going to be late."
The rest of the day pans out similarly. I spill coffee on my desk calendar...and shirt. I rush, in my now stained shirt, with disorderly notes only to find out that the conference call is actually tomorrow. I buzz through tasks with minimal attention, resulting in an array of mild to extra hot chaos. I send event invitations with incorrect dates, forget important labels on my desk, completely overlook the department meeting, and my personal favorite: I forget to attach the attachment to an email where I said 'see attached.'
By 3 p.m. the insatiable need to catch some zzz's comes over me while I am still at work. The next 2 hours are a complete blur of drowsiness. By the time I get home I am exhausted. I force myself to go to the gym, then shower, then prepare dinner, then eat, then clean. By the time I am finished it's at least 11 p.m. and if I don't get in bed right now, tomorrow is going to be a very similar mess. But I stay up watching another episode of The Office, dooming myself for the 7 a.m. alarm soon to start the whole process again.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
No matter how much our society and culture indirectly promote this way of being, it doesn't have to be your way of being. I do work from 8 to 5, which limits my flexibility, but just like in yoga practice, we can learn to adapt. We can learn to work with the variables that are relevant to us to achieve the desired goal.
"No matter how much our society and culture indirectly promote this way of being, it doesn't have to be your way of being."
A New Way
So, I started really thinking about it. This 8-5 thing is certainly limiting, but where could I find some flexibility? What could I do to alleviate some of the chaos; to live a lifestyle more in line with my way of being? What could I do to reverse all the madness. To be more mindful and in tune with the vibes of the day? To stop feeling so damn lost in the mix all the time?
How could I build presence, mindfulness and grace into my day?
How can approach this 'obstacle' and recenter with intention?
And in asking and reflecting on these questions, it came to me: Morning Rituals
It's an idea I first learned about during my yoga teacher training. We had a ritual called Silent Morning. The intention was to keep the awareness inward. No one in the house would talk, even make eye contact, until after our first meditation of the day. It was powerful and effective.
"In asking and reflecting on these questions, it came to me"
How could I apply this to my householder life?
How could I incorporate it on a bigger scale, to build that centeredness into my whole day?
How can I adapt?
This might seem counter intuitive, but the first thing I did was set my alarm earlier. 7 a.m. turned to 6:45 a.m. How about I give myself 15 minutes to meditate before doing anything else? At the very least, the first 15 minutes of my day could be about presence. Maybe this would set a new tone for the day to come.
And it did.
So I kept doing it.
A Funny Thing Happened
Then a funny thing happened. That presence, practiced daily, seemed to give me more energy. Exchanging those 15 minutes of sleep, to 15 minutes of present-centered breath meditation actually fueled me! It was subtle in the beginning and required discipline to stick with, but it seemed to work, even if just placebo effect making me want to believe it worked.
So 6:45 a.m. turned to 6:30 a.m. And not only did I get to meditate for 15 minutes, I also got to stretch my body and do 15 minutes of yoga! It was like a gift I was giving to myself: Waking up every day and getting to center myself, getting to warm up into my body before taking on the day ahead.
"It was like a gift I was giving to myself"
Soon 6:30 turned to 6. And I started feeling like I got my days back.
I meditate, and practice yoga. I make some tea and sip it while filling out my planner. I say a prayer and read a poem from my favorite Rumi book. I mindfully pack lunch and calmly eat breakfast. I even get to see the sun rise over the water into the sky, its' glorious colors and magnificence like an omen of the brilliance that this day will bring. I feel blessed. I feel centered and present. I feel grace and joy.
This is not to say that time at work is not chaotic or that I don't spill coffee on my shirt anymore, it is and I do. But- building this extra time into the day for myself helps create space and mindfulness, which in turn are powerful tools for meeting the days' hustle, and meeting it with grace.
Intuitively I know I have done something right. I have given myself a gift. It's as if now I get up in the morning to have my day, and heading to the 8-5 is just a part of that. I've reclaimed authority over how the day goes. It ceases to escape me as a fleeting collection of moments because I set a different tone first thing with Morning Rituals.
I know it sounds crazy that getting up at 6 a.m. would make me more present, more productive, even more efficient, but it is true. I'm not such a robot anymore just checking boxes, but a person who has a beautiful day -every day- because I choose it should be that way and take the necessary steps!
Maybe waking up early is not your thing, but give it a try. Or heck, make it Evening Rituals. Sit with a cup of tea and write in your journal. Meditate and watch the sunrise or sunset. Go for a run. Make pancakes. Read a book. Organize your sock drawer... It doesn't matter what you do. The point is to consistently build time into your day just for yourself. A Ritual.
"Meditate and watch the sunrise or sunset. "
Through Morning Ritual, I have regained the sense of my day being mine. I feel more present, more confident and more loving because I have given myself the opportunity to be present, to practice self love. You can too!
Let me know what your Morning Rituals are and how they impact your days!
Love and Light~