In order to fully enjoy anything in life, it is important that we understand, appreciate and express gratitude for 'the now'. All manner of meaningful, wholehearted and enjoyable living begins with one simple (yet wildly unused) practice: learning the art of 'being present'. I read a total of 13 books in 2017; on subjects like wellness, healing, emotional intelligence, and spiritual enlightenment. I also watched many motivational speeches, videos and interviews online and on television -- one noticeable common thread that all thought-provoking authors and speakers shared is the importance of being present. In the present moment with ourselves, with those around us, in the things we are doing - because this is how we show up to our lives.
Let's start by practicing being present with ourselves. I started incorporating this practice at this time last year and it has changed my sense of peace, my inner-dialogue, and how I approach the rest of the day. Funny as it sounds, my self-care daily ritual for being present actually begins the night before so that I ensure I am rested and mentally eager and alert for the morning ahead. Here's how my ritual goes:
1) Hot shower, comfy pajamas, some chamomile tea, and some Melatonin (natural
sleep aid), in bed by 9:00 PM. I read a chapter in whatever book I'm currently reading until my eyes get tired and then I calmly turn off my lamp, put down my book and fall asleep.
2) Sleep for 7 hours (10:00 PM-5:00 AM), I find that my mind and body are at its best when I've had a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.
3) Wake up at 5:00 AM, brush teeth, put on robe and go downstairs with my iPad, journal and pencil in hand. I make myself some coffee and light candles...I like the mood in the room to be calm and cozy. I play spiritual study music (many varieties found on YouTube).
4) I complete my daily devotional via the YouVerse Bible App (which I LOVE), then I spend time praying and thanking God for all that I am and all I have yet to become.
5) I then walk over to my couch, and watch a motivational video on the power of the present moment. Here is a link to one of my favorites: https://youtu.be/Ci4Wg6MFcT4
6) Last and final step: I read another chapter from the book I'm reading (same one from last night)
7) I have breakfast, get dressed, and start my day in good spirits, at peace and with enlightened expectation for the day: consistently renewing my commitment to 'being present' in each moment.
Pretty simple, right? When I wake up in the morning, I can get through this morning routine in an hour. That hour, is time well spent because it sets the tone for the rest of my day. But for those of you who have never had a morning routine, I encourage you to start small and select a time-frame that works best for you. It doesn't have to be an hour....it can be 10 minutes, 20 minutes. Whatever your lifestyle and sleep schedule allows. This practice isn't meant to be overwhelming. But instead, an invitation to prioritize your wellness and ability to 'be present' with yourself before you encounter anyone and anything else throughout your day.
Here are some practices/ideas that can help center you during this 10-20 minute 'me time' break:
-pray / study scripture (a daily devotional)
-practice mindfulness with meditation (guided or unguided - YouTube videos are helpful for beginners), an expression of gratitude for the gift of life
-intentional breathing: the practice of breathing and mentally connecting to your body and spirit
-read a book: look for books on the area you are trying to grow (i.e. peace, joy, gratitude, career, love, whatever)...I have plenty of books I can recommend, I can offer suggestions if needed.
-journal: spend time connecting with your heart, write down your thoughts and begin to analyze what is at the heart of your journey.
-mindful affirmations: these can be done quietly/mentally, verbally and in written form. Write down 10 affirmations declaring what you are and what you want into the atmosphere (examples: I am love. I am grace. I am peace. I am joy. I am forgiveness. I am beauty. I am strength. I am courage.)
All it takes is 10 minutes to set the tone for the rest of your day. Being present with yourself, will give you the clarity you need to show up in your life. In whatever you do and whomever you're with. It begins with you. Start thinking about how you can connect and 'be present' with yourself each morning and begin this practice tomorrow. I challenge you do to this for the rest of the week, all the way through Sunday. It's time to live your best life. You already have everything that you need in order to achieve a deeper connection with yourself. You just need to invite yourself to this intimate time, and take care of YOU before you can take care of anyone and anything else.