Every morning since I was a teenager, I would wake up with tightness in my chest. I always woke up tired and frequently hit the snooze button until the last possible moment. I dreaded facing the world.
Until my 30’s, anxiety prevented me from being fully present and authentic in daily life. Even the simplest tasks like making a phone call required mental preparation. Anxiety was present most of the day and kicked into overdrive at night.
I never woke up refreshed.
My racing mind simply continued thinking about what I needed to do that day. What I hadn’t done the day before. Conversations that I wished had gone differently. Thoughts about what I should be doing about my body, food, exercise, vacations, appointments, calls, family, career, romance, friends, time, and on and on.
Morning would come, and before I even opened my eyes, I was in a state of stress. I didn’t want to get out of bed and I would spend the rest of my day trying to reel it back in. This daily process was exhausting, the sleep that was supposed to replenish me, left me with the impossible daily task of trying to shove all of the anxiety back into the Pandora’s Box it had escaped from.
It was not until I created my morning mind that I was able to flow through my day with intention instead of react to the dread.
“Prevention is better than cure.”
This proverb is the foundation for Chinese Medicine and why in acupuncture we treat the person before they get sick. It’s much harder and far more unpleasant to fix a chronic disease than it is to prevent one.
Our mind is no different. With a little bit of effort you are capable of preventing your mind’s anxiety and chronic stress.
As I started to observe how my mind worked I was able to learn to manage the thoughts that were going on in it. I realized I needed a clean morning mind if I was going to affect change.
My morning mind was out of control. I needed to give it a plan or it was just going to continue ruling my life and leaving me in a constant state of disappointment in myself.
I started giving my morning mind a plan in advance. I would decide what I was going to think ahead of time. I did this by spending about 20 minutes in bed imagining what a positive day would look and feel like. Setting these intentions set a tone for my day and it would flow smoothly. Everything felt better.
This worked until I became a mom. My child’s middle of the night and early morning wake ups demanded I go into mom-mode immediately. I no longer had time for a luxurious 20 minute meditation or lingering in bed. I realized I needed to condense my 20 minutes of intention setting into something else that was quick and effective.
I decided I would choose three emotions which would become my mantra for the day that I would repeat before I even opened my eyes in the morning.
“Calm. Focused. Free.”
By focusing on how I wanted to feel my whole day changed.
I eventually stopped waking up with that tightness in my chest. The morning anxiety was gone. I slept better. I lived better. I was more productive and I was able to find my peace.
Awareness is always the first step to everything. Practice observing your morning mind by noticing how you feel in the morning. See if you can start to track the thoughts that were pouring in that led you to feel that way.
2. CHOOSING IN ADVANCE
The night before or even days before choose one to three words that describe how you want to start your day. Write them down and keep them at your bedside. Practice them. Memorize them. Some examples of positive feeling choices are:
authentic – calm – capable – centered – content – energized – engaged – focused – flowing – free – grateful – grounded – inspired – kind – loving – peaceful – present – productive – safe – stable
Decide the night before that when you wake up in the morning, before you open your eyes, that you will consciously choose to repeat quietly in your morning mind your chosen words over and over. Do exactly that.
Even if you say them only once before you need to pop out of bed, that’s perfect. Keep practicing as you brush your teeth, shower, and get dressed. If you have moments during the day that feel challenging bring it back to your Morning Mind Mantra.
4. OBSERVE AND REPEAT
Observe how the rest of your day goes. Noticing how you handled situations, how things flowed, and how you felt overall. Repeat these steps frequently. You will completely alter the course of your day for your highest good.
“With silent mantra all creation accompanies” – Yogi Bhajan