From the second we open our eyes in the morning, we have an opportunity to set the tone of our entire day mindfully, but most of us wake up and get out of bed in a hurry to do something or get somewhere.
How we wake up and get out of bed really does determine how the rest of our day will go, and if we can take just a few minutes to connect to a “mindfulness zone,” everything we do from that moment onward will be with more awareness and keep us in the present.
Here are some tips to start your day in the “M” zone:
1. When you open your eyes acknowledge you’re alive.
2. If you’re in bed with a loved one, appreciate the gift of them in your life.
3. Follow your breath in and out for a few seconds and connect to your heart.
4. Think of something you are grateful or thankful for.
5. Get out of bed and start your ritual of getting ready for the day.
6. Be present with everything you do from making your coffee to brushing your teeth.
7. Put on some music that inspires you and listen to it while you’re showering. One of my personal favorites is Krishna Das “Heart as Wide as the World,” but maybe you like something with more octane like The Rolling Stones “Start Me Up.”
8. Sing in the shower. That’s right, belt it out. It will put you in a good mood, I promise, or at least make you laugh.
9. Get dressed with the same awareness of what you’re doing.
10. If you have breakfast, eat it quietly without distraction. Really taste your food.
11. If you live with someone or have kids or pets, tell them you love them before you walk out the door.
12. Get into your car, and drive to your destination with the same focus and awareness you felt when you were lying in bed.
13. When you get there, treat the people you’re with like you want to be treated.
14. Try and stay in the mindfulness zone for the rest of the day, and if you find yourself slipping away, focus on your breath for a few seconds.
When you start your day in the mindfulness zone, and stay present in all that you do until you’re back in bed to go to sleep, your life will feel much richer and more meaningful to you. The small stuff won’t matter as much, and your appreciation for the people and things that do matter will deepen.
The mindfulness zone is the place to be.
For more by Ora Nadrich, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.
That’s the first question that people ask when I tell them that I got to see the Dalai Lama recently. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in the U.S. for several appearances, including a couple of days in Madison, Wisconsin, where I got to see him.
The second question is usually, “What did you learn?” or, “What did he say?” or most commonly just, “Well?”
Everyone is hoping for a big reveal. However the question is phrased, it is accompanied by an expectant look and a sense that there might be, there should be, one answer, one word of wisdom, one piece of advice that will lead to a happy life.
And there is. And I can share that answer with you, right here and right now. But you might not like it.
Keep working on it.
Yep, that’s it. When I try to distill all the wisdom that the Dalai Lama shared, all the examples and specific practices that I heard, it boils down to this: Keep working on it.
That’s what he does. The Dalai Lama himself says that he knows he isn’t perfect, isn’t “done.” He admitted that sometimes his mind wanders during his meditation practice. And that he sometimes feels the difficulties in life get under his skin. It came as a bit of a surprise to me to hear him talk about his own need for improvement. He was pointing out that happiness and well-being are not a static state nor a divine gift, but a process. The scientists from the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, who were with the Dalai Lama in Madison, referred to well-being very specifically as a skill, one that has to be continually practiced and developed.
We’re not naive. We know that there is rarely a quick fix in life. That hasn’t stopped us from looking for the superfood that will solve our weight or health problem, the one exercise that will make us fit, one mantra that we can chant to find peace in our lives and in our souls.
I carried a saffron-colored small notebook with me when I saw the Dalai Lama, not really expecting just one answer, but hoping for a list of ideas or action items or concepts that would lead me to the answer. I didn’t write much down.
Instead of a pithy prescription that we could all record or post on our status or tweet out, what we got was acknowledgment that every day, every minute, we make a choice about whether to try to be happy or not. Choosing happiness means cultivating your compassion, your generosity, your concern for others and continuously trying to push those ahead of the negative thoughts that wander into all of our lives and constantly push into our heads.
If the idea that you’re never really done comes across as bad news, here’s some good news. The very idea of looking for the answer is part of the answer. If you want to be happier, however you construe the specifics of that, you can take actions to be happier. When you take those actions, you learn and improve and move forward. The act of cultivating happiness, in and of itself, leads you to more happiness.
There is an increasing amount of hard science validating that happiness — sometimes characterized as well-being — makes you more likely to be successful in your work, in your personal relationships, as a parent, and in other critical life roles. Focusing on your happiness, then, ends up having an impact on the roles that define you and on the important people in your life.
Just like learning any new skill, it will not be a linear progression. If you are learning to golf or to play the piano or speak new language, you know that you are going to have good days and not-so-good days. You can expect resistance, even failure, on any single day or at any particular time. Over time, however, you will see improvement. So goes the progress of achieving happiness. Even if you haven’t reached a goal of ultimate transcendent happiness, you will be getting happier.
Getting happier doesn’t mean that all hurt or disappointment or anger will automatically go away. The Dalai Lama’s message is that by allowing yourself to experience those negative feelings, you begin understand them and figure out how to transform them. Don’t drown or ignore or block the negative feelings, but use them to move forward. Keep working on it.
When I think about the Dalai Lama, my mental picture always comes back to his smile. It is not the languid, satisfied smile of someone who has accomplished something great. Rather, it is the impish, quick, almost furtive smile of someone caught in the middle of something. He looks like he is having fun. He looks like he enjoys working on it.
For more by Linda Thomas Brooks, click here.
For more on wisdom, click here.
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