This is a challenge to an idealist: develop a new morning routine. Anytime I attempt to start something new, make a change, improve myself, I start out expecting the best possible scenario. Now, some would say that this isn’t a bad thing, shooting for success and all that. But being an idealist, it is actually quite difficult for me to keep myself simultaneously grounded in real life while also shooting for the moon.
I read The Miracle Morning a few weeks ago. Loved it! It was truly inspiring. I was already doing a lot of the things that Mr. Elrod suggests in his book, so that was also validating, and I was on fire! However, life happens. Even though I’ve been getting up at 5am daily for weeks now, something or someone (often it’s my own self, I fully admit to that) frequently manages to throw a kink into my morning so that even with (ideally) two hours before I have to put on my “Mom” hat, my day feels disjointed. That disjointed feeling is the anxiety triggered by a disgruntled idealist. It’s a pretty sucky feeling.
So, what then? Reboot.
The ONE thing that has kept me from completely losing my shtuff most mornings has been meditation. It is one of Mr. Elrod’s “miraculous” suggestions and some days it is the only thing that gets done on my morning checklist. But guys? If you’re going to get any one thing done, meditation is a pretty solid choice…and I’ll tell you why.
1. Deep Breathing
If you’ve ever been taught or taught someone else how to calm down when feeling flustered, chances are “take a deep breath” was one of the first tools offered. We take a LOT of deep breaths in this house, as all four of us struggle with anxiety. Yeah, it’s a party over here! But, I digress. Deep breathing is very cleansing. Often times when we are feeling stressed, our entire body feels like its caving in, because it kind of is. Muscles tense up and this affects every part of us, including our lungs. When we take a moment to stop and fill our lungs, force ourselves to slow down, that alone can do wonders for a tense moment. And regular practice with this? Only makes it that much more effective.
When you stop to breathe in a tense situation, it helps to leave the trigger and find a quiet spot to be alone. It’s difficult to calm down within the intensity. If it is impossible to completely, physically, leave the situation, make do with what you have: take a couple of steps back, or simply close your eyes. We shouldn’t let obstacles completely derail us, but they can slow us down enough to have to rework our plans. That is ok. A little space in which to do our deep breathing is a tremendous help. When we can distance ourselves from the problem, we are able to see it from the “outside” a little better, and hopefully realize that there is a better solution than whatever we were just attempting or about to attempt in the heat of the moment.
3. Altered Thinking
This is the hardest part, but also the best part. Meditation, at its best, changes how we think. If you ever do some research on how our brain forms new habits, you will learn that the brain literally carves new pathways in itself when new habits are born. But, the old pathways don’t go away, which is what presents the challenge to persevere when forming a new habit. It’s so easy to fall back into the old paths, patterns, that we followed before; but remember what I like to say about the easy way? Yeah, I’m preaching to myself here, too: the easy way isn’t usually the best way.
When you force yourself to step away from the problems of life, breathe, and focus on that very moment, on what is going through your mind, free of judgement, fear, consequences…you will start to notice patterns of thought. You’ll begin to pick apart why you do things a certain way, the patterns that have been triggering you in that direction, and which of those patterns are helpful and which are hurtful. Meditation has been so eye-opening to me in this way. Just the simple act of identifying emotion, letting it be, and then processing its effect on my body, is freeing. You come to realize that emotion is normal, natural, and healthy. It is not wrong, our reactions to it can be wrong, but the emotion in and of itself is never wrong.
Our approach to life drastically changes when we’re able to slow down long enough to process what is really going on, the root of the problem. Band-aids are convenient, but they aren’t a long-term fix. When I can improve my thinking and my reactions to emotion, I can improve my life. It sounds cliché, but it really does become miraculous. ❤