The realities of today’s fast paced life isn’t a secret. We get out of bed and without a chance to be aware of what we’re doing we jump into the race against time to get out the door – racing through emails, zipping through the bathroom, piecing together the kids, dashing through breakfast…makes it seem like the perfect day is out of reach.
We’ve all been there, and if you’re reading this the looming question arises “but what can I do to change this?”. And, I’m here to say, in my experience “absolutely nothing”. The pressures of life are only going to rise and all we can do is accept this fast pace… with a twist.
It’s not about what we do, but rather how we do it – a perfect day is cultivated by the quality of our being, our awareness, in the present moment. Daniel Siegel, a renowned neuropsychologist coined a powerful phrase about how our daily habits impact the synaptic connections in our brain “What fires together, wires together” – meaning the habits we form i.e. racing through the morning, reactively checking the new emails, glazing over our kids, rushing through breakfast, etc. carries on throughout our day.
What’s even more powerful is that these unhealthy habits become deeper and deeper ingrained into the quality of our presence in everything we do – further disconnecting our ability to BE fully present.
Stephen Covey of the bestseller “Success Principles” paints this quality of character that we develop,
“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.”
When’s the last time you’ve awaken in the morning and took a few breaths of fresh air reflecting that you’re actually alive and breathing? actually feeling how good it feels to shower? appreciating the company of your family and the meal that we’re so lucky to have with them, in front of us?
Posing these questions, we haven’t changed a thing, we’ve simply shifted our awareness to the quality of consciousness we are bringing to what we’re doing – moving from the “doing mode of mind” as our friend Jon Kabat-Zinn likes to say, where we’re usually analyzing or critiquing what’s happening or what needs to be done, to what I like to call “wise doing”, an attunement to the quality of consciousness we bring to what we’re doing. In these 4 steps to visualizing your perfect day we’re going to work towards creating this shift.
So, pause for a moment, take a few breaths… and ask the question, “how do your habits define you?” (long pause)
4 steps to visualizing your perfect day – Meditation, Intention/Motivation, Visualization and Dedication (10 min practice)
To help you and the many others in the same boat here’s a 4 step morning exercise to help with this shift, remembering that a morning ritual isn’t something we “fit into” our day but something we “build into” our regular schedule.
Guided Audio Practice (10 minutes). Click the Play button below:
*Waking 20 minutes early, mindfully tending to your basic needs (maybe having a quick tea to set the pace) and getting into a comfortable seated position in a quiet safe space where you will be undisturbed (phones off, family prepped). Have a notepad/journal with pen ready.
1. Meditation – for a few minutes simply settle into what it feels like to be sitting, the sensations in your body and allowing it to relax and settle – disengaging any areas of tightness or holding (moving from your head to your toes in a rhythmic flow)…bringing your awareness to your breath, the quality of it, the temperature and bringing that too to a rhythmic flow as you follow your breath moment to moment. (long pause)
2. Intention/motivation – during initial practice this one may or may not come too easily, trust in the process – here is where we search within ourselves to find out what it is that we really need, what we want to achieve and what drives us to make this a reality.
Here is a great practice from “Teaching Mindfulness” by McCown, Reibel and Micozzi:
If imagery is helpful to you, you may want to imagine a deep well… And imagining a pebble beside the well. … picking up the pebble, feeling it in your hand…. The pebble carries with it a question… and when you are ready, dropping the pebble into the water with the question that it carries… “What brings you here?”… And noticing what answer or answers splash up. Just sitting in silence and listening… this will be your motivation…
And asking the next question, “What is your intention for this day?” Not yet visualizing the activities you are going to do but it may help to ask, “is your intention to dedicate your self for a certain project or initiative? is it to develop your self? is it to benefit the growth of others?”… this will be your intention… (long pause)
And now, bringing your attention back to the breath… simply noticing the in-breath and the out-breath… and feeling the body sitting here…
3. Visualization – And, when you’re ready preparing for three distinct visualizations… first, ask yourself “what is the quality of awareness that I wish for this morning?”… “what are the perfect events that will guide me at home, in transit, during work and into lunch?”… and noticing what answers arise…
Then, ask yourself “what is the quality of day that I wish for in the afternoon?”… “what are the perfect events that will guide me during work, in transit, at home and into dinner?”… and noticing what answers arise…
Finally, ask yourself “what is the quality of the evening that I wish for?”… “what are the perfect events that will bring this special day to a close?”… and noticing what arises…
4. Dedication – When you are ready, bringing this morning practice to a close by bringing to mind or sensing a special person, community, animal or land…whoever or whatever you choose may be in need of help or you simply wish to extend them unconditional friendship and compassion… and sharing “I dedicate this practice” to them, “May they be peaceful and happy, safe from harm and live with ease of well being”…