Do you have any morning practices?
I certainly don’t have any consistent ones, yet, but I do have a few ways in which I am trying to make my mornings more peaceful. Looking back, the most amazing days that I have had, have began with great mornings.
This morning, for example, I woke up at 6:30 AM, which is incredibly rare for me! Just ask anyone who knows me. And, just to clarify, I don’t believe you don’t need to wake up at 6:30 am to have a lovely morning.
The first thing I did was look at my phone – damn it! I immediately recognized this is not how I wanted to start my morning, so I put on a Pema Chodron audio tape and closed my eyes again. Mind you, I am not using a cassette player, which would be rather hipster in this day and age, but I use my iPhone and Audible to listen to audiobooks (which I find highly convenient).
Who the heck is Pema Chodron, you ask? She is a renowned Buddhist meditation teacher with a soft, nurturing voice, who has a way of both awakening me and softening me in a way that I can’t quite explain. You’ll just have to try it for yourself, I guess!
This immediately put me in a peaceful, introspective state. Buddhism, it seems, is ultimately about experiencing bodhichitta. According to Pema Chodron, Bodhichitta is the experience of an open and loving heart and mind. The Buddha, it is said, experienced enlightenment while sitting under a Bodhi tree. After fifteen minutes of listening to Pema’s tapes, I felt more loving, and, dare I say, more enlightened. No Bodhi tree necessary!
I then grabbed my journal and a pen, got up out of my bed and opened my balcony door. I sat down on a cushion outside, anticipating more peacefulness. But as soon as I opened the door, I got a waft of the Mumbai pollution, and a cacophony of rickshaws sputtering about and honking at each other. Not exactly a Bodhi tree, right? But, hey, I am grateful that I have a balcony to walk out on to at all, and I love the city of my birth, no matter how smelly it can be!
In any case, on the balcony, I journaled for about three minutes. I wrote about how I was feeling, and I noted my first thoughts upon waking. I noticed that among my first thoughts were loving thoughts towards someone on the other side of the world. I also penned my feeling of peacefulness.
I then closed my journal and closed my eyes. I took three deep breaths, and then pronounced “aum” or “om” three times, uttering those vibrations deep in my chest through my diaphragm. Why did I do this? I’m not too sure – I’m in India and so it felt like the right thing to do! In any case, it certainly helped perpetuate my stillness.
In case you’re wondering, the net in the image above is there to stop pigeons from coming in. I try to love all beings through bodhichitta, but pigeons in my flat can be especially hard to love.
So, do you have any morning practices? I certainly want a more intentional morning routine so I can begin my day with feelings of peace and loving kindness towards myself and the rest of the universe – or at least one other human being!
So here’s my formula for a more still morning:
- 15 minutes of eyes closed, intentional introspection, and dare I call it meditation?
- 3-5 minutes of freeform journaling
- 3 deep breaths and 3 long om’s
I wish you many beautiful mornings and beautiful days. If you have any morning practices you would like to share, please do so in the comments. If you like what you’re reading, please share it with others! My deepest gratitude to you.
Resources: Pema Chodron Wiki Pema Chodron Audio Tapes