Ever had one of those days when you wake up with a lengthy to do list and seem to be running from one job and place to the next, whizzing between chores like dealing out cards in a busy casino? Every day? Stop right now! That used to be me, and still is if I am lured off course! I have found that even a few minutes of silence and inner focus first thing, can improve my day immensely and make it a little more productive or at least give me thinking space and chance to put things into perspective!
I have always done some yoga when I got up, even if it's just 20 minutes of lying on my back and rolling around followed by a sun salutation or two. I know I can move more easily and genuinely feel better, more alert, afterwards. But for the past year or so I have been able to establish a meditation practice to go with it. This has been the catalyst, bringing much more peace to my mornings and hence my days.
It's not easy! Three mornings a week I am up well before everyone else in my home as I'm up between 5 and 5.30 am to teach early classes. I have always had a set morning ritual which is an essential part of those early morning starts for me (though at that time it cannot be long as I need to be at the studios where I teach in time and don't want to have to get up before 5 when I haven't got home from teaching evening classes til 10 pm sometimes).
The place is totally quiet and feels completely different in the magic of those early mornings. I can even go outside now it's not always raining and feel the early sun on my skin — if I have time to unlock all the bolts on the door! Sometimes I have to share my outdoor space with local cats or foxes, but often it's just the birds, insects and me!
The other days when I am up an hour or so later, the family are milling around and my other half switches on the radio even before his eyes are open — and does the same in every room he enters including the bathroom! If you have little ones jumping on you, you will find it very hard to start the day with silence. And you won't want to get up much earlier than you have to when sleep is such a luxury for most parents. There are ways to integrate silence and meditative thought into even the busiest lifestyles. Sometimes just concentrating on your breathing or chanting repetitions of a simple mantra can clear the mind and calm the nervous system, and little children may want to get involved in a good way! If they know what you are doing they will get used to your habit rather than thinking you are ignoring them ;)
You can start with just a few minutes of focusing on the feel of the breath flowing in and out - maybe as soon as you wake up, or maybe by the kitchen window or when you pop off to the bathroom. (I have a yoga mat rolled up in the shower room and often escape there even though I have a studio on the floor above.) Your practice will build gradually and become a comfortable and comforting habit. Many people consciously think of three good things to be happy about or
thankful for the moment they wake up and that helps give the day a rosy
tint, so they don't get out of bed with a sinking feeling in the belly. That can be a good starting point for meditation.
And once you have cleared the mind, it will be easier to work out which of those pressing chores need to be sorted first as everything gains a little more perspective! The other time I like to meditate and always found easier, is in the evening. Sunset is supposed to be a magical time, though it's hard to be around at the right time. For me, meditating late at night helps to clear my mind, calm me down and help me sleep a little more easily.
If you want more tips and encouragement on meditation and breathing practices, go along to a class! I have three public Pranayama and Meditation sessions coming up in Stoke Newington. Saturday June 9th, June 23rd and July 21st at 5.15pm to 6.15pm at YogaHome, N16.