No matter who we are, how old we are, where in the world we live or what our lives look like day to day, we all have one thing in common: We wake up. That is, we literally wake from sleep. What we focus on in those first few minutes upon waking can profoundly impact our day.
There are infinite ways to support ourselves as we begin our day, through ritual, prayer, meditation, Yoga, chanting, dancing, writing, walking, reading something inspirational, etc... This is the beauty of life - there is no one right or wrong way to support ourselves. What has value is simply whatever works for us. I developed this little mini practice as one way to nourish and support myself through the day. I also used to weave it into every Yoga class I taught for over 25 years. While I no longer teach Yoga, I want to share it with you. It’s just one simple thing.
This one simple thing takes about 10 minutes and can be done either in bed, lying or sitting, or, as I often do, on the floor in what’s known as Child’s Pose. Pick whatever you prefer. I like Child’s Pose because I get to curl up in a little ball and create this feeling of comfort and coziness and goodwill towards myself, but you can do this just as well in bed. It will be easier to stay awake if you are not in bed, though.
Either way, if you need to start your day at a specific time, use a timer so that you can really let go, knowing that you don’t have to worry about how much time has passed. Alternatively, you can use listen to the audio recording I’ve included by clicking on the photo of me below in Child's Pose.
Whether we wake up feeling anxious, scared, or stressed about something - or not - I believe that creating a sense of goodwill towards ourselves, connecting to the power that's inside of us, yet greater than us, tuning into what we're needing, and setting an intention for the day is so important.
This is the practice.
You might want to read through this first, so you get the idea, just as you would if you were reading a recipe all the way through before you make a new dish.
Start either in bed, lying or sitting, or on the floor in child’s pose. If you want to use the audio recording, click on the photo of me in child’s pose after you've read through this and you’re ready to begin.
Make sure you are physically comfortable and adjust yourself if necessary. Begin to connect with your breath, feeling it flowing in and out, letting go of trying to control it in any way. Allow your exhale to release completely. Allow the inhale to come in on its own. Continue with this for a minute or so.
Feel the sensation of your body on the bed or ground, allowing yourself to let go into the support of what’s beneath you, noticing any tensions in your body and inviting them to release. If there are parts that are holding on and won't let go, that's OK, too. Trust that there is wisdom in the holding. Let go of any judgements or agenda of how you should or shouldn't be. You may notice thoughts arising, or remnants of a dream... just allow these things to come and pass by, allowing yourself to simply be with what’s happening, continuing to feel your breath.
As you feel your breath flowing in and flowing out, become aware that breathing is happening on it’s own - that it’s something powerful that happens within you, giving you life, without you needing to make it happen. You can even do this now, as you’re reading this. Allow yourself to feel the awe and miracle of that, the power that breathes your body, makes a seed sprout, a flower bloom, the sun rise and set... as the power of good, of Life, of God, if you feel connected to that word. Know this power as residing within you. Let every breath be a reminder of this benevolent presence.
As you continue to rest in the awareness of breath, of this power animating your body, notice what you are experiencing, and just allow, without judging. The invitation now is to talk silently within yourself, to this power, this power inside of you and beyond you, in your own way, whatever you have to say, as though it is the most loving presence, loves you unconditionally and supports you completely. If it’s hard to imagine this love, or you feel doubtful, bring that into the conversation. The key is to communicate from your heart, in whatever state it’s in, in this moment.
See if you’re willing to open and surrender to this loving presence within and beyond you. Find your own words, or a particular prayer that you like. The words that I say - and use through the day - are, “ God, please guide my every thought, word, attitude and action. May I feel your loving Presence throughout the day. May I give and receive with the ease and effortlessness of my breath flowing in and out. May I move through the world with grace and ease, doing all that ought to be done by me.” If there is something I need help with, I can ask for that, or even if there is someone I want to ask something of, yet feel reticent or shy, I can ask for the courage to ask for help. We can even ask, “please help me to feel grateful for my life”, or “please help me care about myself and the health of my body and mind”, or “give me the courage and strength to....” or, “Please show me how I can be a positive force in the world with this situation.” Whatever words are wanting to be expressed from your heart, invite them to come forth. Allow yourself to take refuge in this safe space you have created for the remainder of your time as a way of preparing yourself for the day.
When you feel complete, say thank you in your own way, take a deep breath, and let it go with a big sigh. This is the end of the One Small Thing practice.
Remember, even though you are talking “to” this loving power, presence, life force - this wisdom is inside you - as well as around you, everywhere. Throughout your day, you can come back to an awareness of this loving presence and the feeling of connecting with yourself in a kind and gentle way.
We truly can strengthen our awareness of and our connection to life, to love and the wisdom and guidance within us - in so many ways. This is simply one way... I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to comment below and share.