I’m a Morning Person

As most of my friends would attest to, I’m a morning person. Even in my party days, I’d be the first one up and about the next day. There’s something special about the mornings and a new day, a blank slate.

Have you ever been on one of those road trips that required you to wake up before dawn? Seeing the sun peak over the horizon as you drive to a fun destination. Often that’s a fishing or backpacking trip for me. A good early morning doesn’t always need a road trip. It can involve a nice cup of coffee, some good reading, a nice meditation, or a glowing fire.

I love those days where you feel like you’ve had a whole day of experiences before the clock hits noon. Of course, these days can require you to go to bed early to still get a full night’s rest but that’s not an issue for me typically. Night owl I am not. Maybe I’m the morning chickadee, the hummingbird thirsty to start the day.

I can remember when I moved into a straw bale constructed house and I was without power for two weeks as we set it up. Without lights, I found it hard to stay up an hour past sunset. I was more in line with rising and falling of the sun. There was something special about that. Something I enjoyed greatly and it just felt right.

Thich Nhat Hanh alongside Martin Luther King Jr.

This mantra I’m about to share is one I try to say each morning. I’ve probably shared this before but that’s only because I find it so valuable. It’s from the late Thich Nhat Hanh who recently passed away a few days ago. A great teacher who championed important causes like alongside Martin Luther King and beyond. A Buddhist monk who helped bring mindfulness to America and teach many to focus on the present and our breath. To be grateful, to enjoy each day, to not judge our emotions, and many other simple but profound ideas that just make sense to me.

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

Even if I do no meditation, that gives me a short pause before my thoughts rush to fill my newly awaken brain. Here’s to a new day!

how to reduce stress, anxiety, and fear with breathing

img_5802

(Disclaimer – read Thich Nhat Hanh, I’ve learned a lot about what I’m going to say through his teachings this past year.)

What’s something we do all day that if we did consciously would relieve stress, anxiety, anger and fear? It’s breathing. How often do we not pay attention to our breath? I can go days without taking note that my stomach is rising and falling with each breathe. Isn’t that a bit strange? Something we do all the time but pay zero attention too.

We’ve probably all heard about taking ten breaths when you start to feel angry as it will help you calm down and manage the situation better. When we calm down and listen to our breath and be in our breath, we begin to live in the present moment. We can begin to let our anxieties of the future and past fade away.

Your sleeping can improve!

Sleeping for me has always been tough, it’s been hard to shut off the mind each day. If we take time throughout the day to breath (AKA meditate), focus on the breath and the present moment we can let our mind relax and stop the thought cycle. Practicing this during the day makes falling asleep much easier because we’ve worked through thoughts and feelings throughout the day instead of only letting these thoughts consume us as we lay our heads down.

Where do our anxieties reside?

My anxieties reside mostly in the future and the past. I beat myself up for things that happened in the past or I dread certain things in the future. If I allow myself to relax, breath, and participate fully in the present moment, these anxieties are diminished. I realize everything is OK right now.

It’s hard to only focus on breath, what are some exercises I can use to help me?

Here are some sayings that I took from Thich Nhat Hanh that have helped me. Time your breathing for each sentence, it helps to slowly think the sentences but not say them out loud. Slowly, you can drop thinking about the sentences and totally dive into your breath. It’s like anything, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Don’t beat yourself up for thinking other thoughts, just slowly come back to the breath.

1.
Breathing in,
I am aware of my in-breath.Breathing out,
I am aware of my out-breath.

2.
Breathing in, I follow my in-breath all the way through.Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through.

3.
Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through.

4.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I calm my body.

There are many more breathing exercises that I can share but these are a few good ones to start. Thanks for reading the blog and I hope these exercises help you like they’ve helped me.

img_6527.jpg