Photo Used With Permission by Alcosphoto.
Finding Joy in the Morning!
“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing.
For to miss the joy is to miss all.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson
Is there anything joyful about our mornings? Or do we stumble to the coffeepot and wish we were still in bed? I remember the stressful mornings when I was getting dressed for work, getting a kid dressed for daycare, fixing breakfast, letting the dog out, finding my keys, my glasses and anything else I needed for the day. And the list goes on. How did we survive those days?
Now that I’m retired, my mornings are much more relaxed. But I’m finding that relaxation isn’t enough. I am trying to find the joy in my morning activities that will set the tone for the day. I am interested in waking up my heart and mind, as well as my body. So, I’ve been reading and experimenting with different morning actions. Here’s my new routine:
When I first wake up, usually around 7:00 am, I try to do a check-in to see where I’m starting from. My first thought is, Do I have a headache (an ongoing problem for me)? Am I feeling comfortable or tense? Does my mind race off to whatever is on my “to do” list for the day? I try to objectively note my emotions and thoughts without letting them overtake me. Next, I stretch and feel my body’s contact with my bed covers – from my head down to my toes. Most of the time, this body scan gives me a delicious feeling of comfort and peace. Now I’m smiling!
After this brief mindful check-in, I open up my thoughts to what, at this moment in my life, I have to be grateful for. Sometimes I’m just grateful not to have a headache. I might glance out the window and be grateful for the morning sunshine. Or what often comes to mind is how grateful I am to have my loving husband and friends. Today, my gratefulness turned to delight as I heard a new birdsong outside my window.
My next step toward joy in the morning is to greet Chuck and Hunter, my two Welsh Terriers, at the “doggie gate” in the hallway. They are exuberant with their greetings and I have been known to “shush” them and push them away as I make my way to the kitchen. Now, I’m reframing my reactions. Instead of annoyance, I respond with a sing-song, “Hello, sweet puppies” and I think to myself “They are so full of joy and I can be too!” What I’m noticing is that my feelings really do start to shift when I start with this new behavior. I’m as happy to see my furbabies as they are to see me – it doesn’t get much better than that!
After making coffee, I sit in front of my big back window to see what Mother Nature has brought to my life this morning. It’s always different and I notice every part of it – the tide level in Manklin Creek, wading birds that are visiting, how fast the clouds are passing, how the sunshine glistens on the water. After these first few moments of noticing and acknowledging this natural presence, I close my eyes and meditate. This morning meditation is brief and without guidance, unlike my earlier reliance on Headspace.com. I focus on my breathing and I notice my passing thoughts and emotions. This new approach has brought me a peace that I can only describe as “joyful!” When I open my eyes, I feel refreshed and more resilient to whatever life throws at me today!
I know that my morning routine doesn’t work for everyone, especially if you have to get ready for work or get your children off to school. But finding joy in the morning can be as simple as giving your husband a “good morning” kiss or watching a leaf flutter to the ground as you walk out your door. It may start with feeling the delicious warmth of that first sip of coffee and grow when you feel that invigorating stream of water in the shower. Notice, acknowledge, smile, and feel the joy of each opportunity for mindful living.
by Claude McKay
At night the wide and level stretch of wold,
Which at high noon had basked in quiet gold,
Far as the eye could see was ghostly white;
Dark was the night save for the snow’s weird light.
I drew the shades far down, crept into bed;
Hearing the cold wind moaning overhead
Through the sad pines, my soul, catching its pain,
Went sorrowing with it across the plain.
At dawn, behold! the pall of night was gone,
Save where a few shrubs melancholy, lone,
Detained a fragile shadow. Golden-lipped
The laughing grasses heaven’s sweet wine sipped.
The sun rose smiling o’er the river’s breast,
And my soul, by his happy spirit blest,
Soared like a bird to greet him in the sky,
And drew out of his heart Eternity.