Welcome to your 6 Week Self Care Series!
Setting the Foundation for your Day: The Power of Morning Rituals
For your first week you'll focus on committing to a daily morning self care ritual.
Your morning ritual consists of:
- Drinking 12oz of water, (with lemon if you like:)
- Going for a 10 minute walk outside
You'll do these activities first thing in the morning.
Essentially, as soon as you get out of bed you'll drink 12 oz of water (I find it helps to have the water poured and ready the night before, but then I'm still half asleep when I get up), meditate, then go for a walk.
You'll do all three before you do anything else.
They'll be your foundation for, and the start of, your day. So that your first priority upon waking up is loving, caring for, and nurturing yourself.
This will make such a difference to the rest of your day!
It still amazes me how much more energy, focus, presence, and compassion I have when I commit to these three simple activities.
And I think it's important to start simple. To keep it basic and doable so that you will do it.
So for this week it's just those three things, every morning.
I'll provide recorded meditations that will increase in time by 1 minute each day. For example, your first meditation will be 5 minutes, your second meditation will be 6 minutes, third 7 minutes, fourth 8 minutes, fifth 9 minutes, and sixth 10.
I also encourage you to have one day this week (if at all feasible), where you plan as little as possible.
For me that day tends to be Saturdays and I call it my Dani Day. I think the world would be a much saner and happier place if we all had a Dani Day. So if you can, give yourself a day or an afternoon or morning or evening and do whatever you want (or nothing at all.)
To start off today's self care, here's your
13 minute video lesson/self care tutorial for Week 1:
For more on the power of morning rituals, see this NY Times article
Tips for Creating a Meditation Practice
Find a space that beckons you to sit.
Place a special pillow or cushion in the corner of a room. Or just sit in a chair!
Create a tiny altar with flowers, a buddha, a rosary, a stone, a book.
I have Pema Chodron’s book Start Where You Are, reminding me that’s how all meditation begins, by starting where we are…
Create a ritual.
Treat your meditation practice the same way you would brushing your teeth.
Pick a regular time and keep it sacred. First thing in the morning when your mind is calm, clear and open to meditation is a good time.
Week 1, Day 1, Five Minute Morning Meditation
Week 1, Day 2, Six Minute Morning Meditation
It can be hard to commit to a morning practice if you struggle with getting to sleep at night, and sleeping well throughout the night, so here are some helpful tips.
10 Ways to Get to Sleep and Sleep Well at Night
1. Begin to relax 1-2 hours before bedtime
In the evening, reduce stimulation as much as you can. Dim the lights, turn off electronics, and begin to slow down. Do something that relaxes you, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath or shower. Let relaxation be your evening theme.
2. No caffeine consumption after 12pm
Caffeine can stay in your body 8-14 hours after consuming it. Caffeine’s effects vary from person to person, but in general, if you are having trouble sleeping, try completely eliminating it for a month and see if that improves your sleep. Also consider sneaky sources of caffeine such as chocolate and tea. Switch to water, herbal tea, and herbal coffee substitutes.
3. Eat a sleep inducing dinner
Eat foods containing nutrients that promote sleep, including tryptophan, melatonin and magnesium. At dinner, eat a combination of high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates. Try a dish of quinoa mixed with sautéed greens and sliced chicken breast sprinkled with roasted pumpkin seeds. For dessert, try a bowl of fresh cherries or a frozen yogurt made with frozen cherries and coconut milk.
4. Turn the lights off by 10:30pm
Plan on going to bed at the same time every night. Our bodies are built for a 10 p.m. — 6 a.m. sleep pattern. The most regenerative form of sleep occurs between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
5. Try left nostril breathing
Gently block off your right nostril with your right thumb and take long slow deep breaths through your left nostril only. Left-nostril breathing has a soothing and relaxing effect on the body mind. In Kundalini Yoga, it’s suggested that you take 26 long, slow deep breaths in this manner to produce a relaxing effect on the mind and body.
6. Choose your thoughts
How do you think about sleep? Fearful thoughts create tension in the body, making it difficult to fall asleep, or sleep deeply when you do. Try the affirmation, "I choose to relax and let go now."
7. Modulate lighting and sound
When your internal rhythms align with nature you are much more likely to fall asleep easily and sleep well when you do. Try to expose yourself to sunlight during the day and in the evening dim the lights a few hours before bed. Sleep in a pitch-black room or wear an eye mask. If you find that you are more relaxed with some background noise, use a fan or noise machine while sleeping. Earplugs are also a great option if you are sensitive to noise.
8. Take a relaxation bath (or shower)
If you have time for a bath combine ½ cup Epsom salts with a few drops of an essential oil, like lavender, in hot water. Soak for 20 minutes. The magnesium contained in Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and promotes feelings of relaxation. Water and salt cleanses energy from the day. But if a bath isn't do-able taking a shower helps too! Energetically it clears tension and stress from the day, leaving you refreshed and relaxed.
9. Take relaxation breaks during the day
Give yourself an afternoon break out date! Take 10 minutes to get off of your chair and out of your thinking mind and into your body as a way to shake off stress from the day and counter the harmful effects of sitting for hours. Aim for at least one 10 minute relaxation or move your body break during the day to keep your body in balance so that you're not in a state of overwhelm by the end of the day.
10. Practice yoga nidra
Yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep, is a guided meditation that progressively relaxes the muscles in your body, from head to toes, which also relaxes the nervous system and the mind. Practice my guided yoga nidra video below before going to (or while in!), bed to discover for yourself how healing and blissful yoga nidra is.
Week 1, Day 3, Seven Minute Morning Meditation
Week 1, Day 4, Eight Minute Morning Meditation
I've been reading the book Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World through Mindfulness by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, and want to share his words with you...
"More than anything else, I have come to see meditation as an act of love, an inward gesture of benevolence and kindness toward ourselves and toward others, a gesture of the heart that recognizes our perfection even in our obvious imperfection, with all our shortcomings, our wounds, our attachments, our vexations, and our persistent habits of unawareness. It's a very brave gesture to take one's seat for a time and drop in on the present moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen master, mindfulness teacher, poet, and peace activist, aptly points out that one reason we might want to practice mindfulness is that most of the time we are unwittingly practicing its opposite.
Every time we get angry we get better at being angry and reinforce the anger habit.
Every time we become self-absorbed, we get better at becoming self-absorbed and going unconscious. Every time we get anxious, we get better at being anxious.
Practice does make perfect.
Without awareness of anger or of self-absorption, or ennui, or any other mind state that can take us over when it arises, we reinforce those synaptic networks within the nervous system that underlie our conditioned behaviors.
But, every time we are able to know a desire as desire, anger as anger, a habit as habit, an opinion as an opinion, a thought as a thought, a mind-spasm as a mind-spasm, or an intense sensation in the body as an intense sensation, we are correspondingly liberated. Nothing else has to happen. We don't even have to give up the desire or whatever it is. To see it and know it as desire, as whatever it is, is enough.
When framed this way, we might want to take more responsibility for how we meet the world, inwardly and outwardly in any and every moment."
So, like we talked about at BFC last Wednesday, let's return over and over again to practicing curiosity and wonder. Let's notice when we harden into judgment, and move toward curiosity and wonder instead.
We can even bring curiosity and wonder to our judgment. When you notice yourself hardening into judgment you can say to yourself, "That's interesting. Why am I contracting into judgment around this? What's behind or underneath that judgment? Is it fear or sadness or something unresolved from the past?"
It's a practice. And meditation is the ground of that practice. Returning us to the present moment again and again.
In the present moment there is no judgment, and nothing to judge. There is only the arising and falling of the breath, the sensations in the body, the thoughts that like clouds pass through the sky of our mind, that come and then go. The natural ebb and flow of life.
To practice meditation is to practice curiosity and wonder. And as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, it is an act of profound love, toward ourselves, others, and the world.
If what we practice reinforces who we are; if what we practice is who we are, then practicing meditation, curiosity, wonder, and love is a good way to go.