Daily Ritual Bookends
Happy New Year!
This week's blogette is full of my favorite things, starting with a new name! As I mentioned last year, I will continue to wander lustfully through life and you have an open invitation to come along for the ride, however it feels more real to offer up Sparkles and Love as the theme of my Thursday ramblings. So snap on your Swarovski crystal studded seat belts ... here we go 2020!
I love new beginnings. Everyone is thinking about the new year, the new decade -- how to begin, how to get off on the right foot. Some people have parties; some have ceremonies to set up the desired energy. Some write out elaborate plans and designs for the next year or five years, even. The saying, "This is the first day of the rest of your life" takes on a particular significance as we start a whole, new chain of 365 days.
I've been thinking along smaller lines which can feel bigger when put in perspective. I've been paying attention to how I begin each day and also how I end it. My Monday Quote this week was:
"Just like bookends, on either side,
hold up the books in the middle,
let your morning and evening rituals
hold up and take care of
When your alarm goes off or when you wake up and get out of bed, do you prepare yourself for the day or do you simply let it have its way with you? Is your first thought positive and upbeat or is there a moment of dread that another day is in front of you, but you "buck up", sigh/groan and decide to make the best of it? Even if you're fortunate enough to look forward to your day, have you even thought about the idea of creating a ritual for rising in the morning and wrapping it up like a beautiful gift at the end of the day? I think of it as choosing either a day by design or one by default and the latter does not hold a lot of appeal. This is also a good time to mention that setting up this framework goes a long way toward supporting us when we reach the end of a day and are thankful that another day awaits after a good night's sleep. Unless we encircle our day with a self-imposed boundary, a "bad" or difficult day can easily bleed into the next one instead of giving us a chance to turn it around.
Here are my simple (although they might feel radical at first) suggestions:
When you wake up and/or the alarm goes off SMILE. Whaaaat?!?! Did you just say SMILE, Barbara?!? Indeed I did. There is science behind this, my friends (in fact, if you're smiling just because of what you just read, you're already activating some of it!). The mere act of smiling triggers the release of neuropeptides which act to fight off stress. Dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are all set free into your system while cortisol is reduced. I find that as soon as I smile, first thing after opening my eyes, I want to giggle, it all feels so foolishly delicious!
Next, take care of business, but just the most immediate needs. You might go to the bathroom or have a drink of water. I like to make a cup of herbal tea or lemon water. There's something about that hot drink, but I'm not ready to be hit with some caffeine. It's important to stay tuned IN.
Go to a place you've designated as your meditation space. It might be sitting up in your bed or on a cushion used only for this. I highly recommend creating a "special" spot that feels sacred to you. It's important to devote fifteen to twenty minutes meditating here, although if you are just beginning, even five minutes is a start.
After that, it feels really good to stretch. This could also be the time for a workout, even twenty minutes, especially if you're not sure where you'll fit it in later in the day. Finally, if you can get outside for a walk, especially in nature or at least in a park, it will really add to you being able to ground yourself for the day.
When it comes to the end of the day:
Turn off the tv, especially the news, at least an hour before going to bed.
Write in a journal. Take care not to hash over things that bothered you during the day. Find at least three things for which you are grateful. I also like to add three things that I'm celebrating, like being kind or polite or patient (especially when I didn't particularly want to be). I've also discovered that the more simple I keep it, the more profound it feels. For example, being grateful that I had enough to eat (hardly ever a problem for me, but one that many in the world experience!) or that I have my sense of smell intact, even if I encountered something that was stinky!
Some people like to meditate a second time. If it relaxes you, then go for it! Sometimes it can energize you and get in the way of falling asleep. You'll need to see what works best for you. It might be that some soothing music is what you need for ten or fifteen minutes after lights go out.
If you set up these "bookends", you'll begin to see that your day holds up much better than if you simply leave it all to chance, not knowing what to expect from each day. Also, these are some preliminary ideas based on what I do. Please create your own routine. Just make sure that you 1) Smile, 2) Meditate, 3) Write down your gratitudes and celebrations.
I'm all for meeting up with the unexpected and I also like knowing I've composed both the beginning and the end of my day and that this is something I can rely on and trust. This is what I wish for you.
Sparkles and Love,