The alarm clock goes off. You hit the snooze button multiple times. At some point, you can’t delay getting out of bed anymore. So, you regretfully throw back the covers and drag yourself into the shower, where you automatically proceed to go through in your mind the likely challenges of your day ahead. Does this—or something similar—describe the start of your day?
That was pretty much my unconscious morning routine for more years than I care to admit. That was before I started studying conscious living principles and cultivating a spiritual practice. Then, I gradually shifted away from letting my day run on autopilot, busily reacting to the pre-programmed warnings and threats proffered by my fear-based ego about all the fires awaiting me to put out.
How Do You Start Your Day?
In the book, You Can Create An Exceptional Life, authors Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson devote one full chapter to talking about how they begin their day. The title of that chapter is what Louise Hay has been saying for years, “How you start your day is how you live your day.” (And, by extension, how you live your day is how you live your life, which, incidentally, is the focus of the next chapter.)
These two personal empowerment leaders have different daily routines. However, the common denominator is that they don’t rush to begin their day. Instead, they take their time to listen to their inner wisdom and to set intentions for their day. By the time they pick up the phone, go to meetings, write emails, etc.—the kinds of things we all do—they approach these tasks with high consciousness regarding what they’d like to say and how they want to respond to situations. Staying in tune with the best part of themselves, they communicate and carry on their day being intentional about the experiences they want to create for themselves and all involved.
What they say in that chapter really resonates with me. In my own experience of building my daily spiritual practice for the past 5 years, I can attest to the importance of living consciously. Instead of allowing life to continue to run on auto-pilot, I’ve been reclaiming conscious piloting of my life—and I’m passionate about helping others do the same for themselves.
Becoming An Inner Observer
As an overall result of reclaiming conscious piloting of my life, I’ve become more and more of an inner observer of myself. That is, I’m able to see the choice points in just about every situation and to decide at each juncture what I want to do. This minimizes doing or saying things that are ego-based and that which may court regrets later.
Let me give you a work example from a couple of years ago when I was an onsite consultant. I walked into a conference room with a meeting about to start. The two colleagues who were already there started venting about issues in the organization. Neither raised anything related to the purpose of the meeting, nor did they identify a specific problem to solve in that exchange. They were just in their unconscious, habitual commiserating mode. It was one of those auto-pilot conversations that could be taking place in any organization—anywhere, really.
In that moment, I was aware of my ego-based reflex, which was to join in the commiserating. After all, I had my own grievances to file, thank you very much! However, as an inner observer of my natural human reaction, I also knew that I had another choice. That is, I could talk instead about how grateful I was to be gainfully employed in a tough economy, happy to be able to use my experience and skills productively to make a good living. I decided to go with the latter, sharing very genuinely my heartfelt sentiments. If you were a fly on the wall in that conference room on that day, you would have witnessed the instantaneous shift in energy, as the air in the room got considerably lighter. My two colleagues immediately smiled in agreement, and chimed in with their own words of gratitude.
Stop Auto-Piloting Your Day
So, how do we start our day such that we don’t let it slip into auto-pilot? More importantly, what if we don’t have a lot of time in the morning to devote to an involved practice? As Hay and Richardson point out—and I fully agree—even if it means setting your alarm to wake up 10 minutes earlier so that you can sit quietly with a cup of coffee/tea, instead of immediately running around manically, that’s a good start. Here are a few suggestions:
- Meditate and/or sit quietly. Quiet your mind, if only for a few minutes.
- Write in your journal how you intend your day to flow, e.g., meetings with people going harmoniously, etc. You don’t have to write a lot, but just enough to set an intention for your mind to follow for the day.
- Find an affirmation that resonates, and use it every morning and throughout your day. For years, I used an adapted one from Dr. Gay Hendricks‘ book, The Big Leap. It goes, “Today, I expand in love, abundance and success, as I inspire those around me to do the same.” These days, my affirmation is “I am Infinite Love and Grace.” It aligns with my mantra, “Do it for Love,” which I use often, especially when I feel challenged by an event.
- Spend a couple of minutes visualizing a positive experience, whether it’s your commute or a conversation by the water cooler.
- Write a gratitude list. When you’re in gratitude, you can’t be a victim at the same time.
You can also use your commute time to focus consciously (and safely) on things/people to appreciate or for which/whom to be grateful. I did that on my 50-minute commute a few years back on a day that was promising to be extremely stressful. By the time I arrived at work, I was in a true state of grace. My day ended with my business partners thanking me for going above and beyond to resolve a situation where everything that could go wrong had gone wrong. So, I can attest to the fact that how we start our day does indeed shape how we live our day.
Over to you: What do you do to pilot your day? Do you have any morning routine or practice? Love for you to share in the comment box below.
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