Starting your day off right, Part II
I first began to see the value of a morning routine that included meditation and movement when I was living and teaching in China for a couple of years (1995-97). My first year there had been challenging. I had put on a lot of weight, had been sick a lot, had troubles getting along with my co-teacher from Wales (the only other person in our whole town that I could speak fluent English with for two whole years), trouble with teaching my classes and students cheating on tests.
Then I started meditating. I had been listening to Thich Naht Hanh tapes (no cds, dvds, email, cell phone or even internet back then! Dittos were made with a typewriter and then sent to be printed on waxy paper with mimeograph machines) and read about meditation before and dabbled in it. But this book called “How to Meditate” by Eknath Easwaran (sent to me by my mom who has always been a guiding light in my life) really helped launch me into meditating daily. And things began to shift. I started getting up at 5:30am to go for a jog and then join the local tai chi or qi gong classes (you could find these going in parks or any other wide open spaces and join for free). I would then return to meditate for a half hour and eat breakfast before heading off to teach.
Me sitting next to Eknath Easwaran at the Blue Mountain Center for Meditation in California a few years later:
Quick funny story (and more evidence for the importance of starting off your day with the right food as I shared in Part I of Starting Your Day off Right): I said EATING breakfast, not cooking. And it wasn’t breakfast so much as rice. I barely ever cooked. I did not know how to cook. I had made valiant attempts at it during the first year but I would go to the market and not know what to buy, especially hard in Chinese, nor how to prepare it, and I finally just gave up. Hence, the reason I gained so much weight, eating lots of snacky things from the store (sesame candy) and all the peanut butter people sent me from the U.S. I was not eating well. One thing I had figured out was the rice cooker. So, I had a lot of rice. And for breakfast, it was rice with sugar and milk almost every day.
This led to a crazy blood sugar spike and sudden drop one day (especially, after eating a little cup of ice cream that was offered to me by one of my students) that had me fainting in the middle of teaching my class. I collapsed on the podium and woke up to my students shaking me. I was then shuffled outside where I was carefully balanced on the back of a bicycle and taken to a little hospital where they promptly x-rayed my chest. I’ll never know why. But, apparently, it looked good and I was sent home to rest. I wish I would have been taken to an acupuncturist or herbalist instead.
But meditation turned things around for me back then as it continues to do today. I got fit (except for that diet piece), I grew close to my co-worker, I got really creative with my teaching and fell in love with my students. My co-worker asked if I would stay to work there with her for another year. All of my students walked me to the train station when I left. There were many tears (ok, I was bawling). Through meditation, we get stillness, perspective, our hearts and minds can open to receive peace and love, wisdom, creativity and even healing. Back then, I desperately needed peace of mind, comfort and inspiration. And I found it through meditation.
I now practice a different form of meditation called Ray of Light Meridian Therapy™ on a daily basis. In total, it is about a 45 minute meditation. Though once you are familiar with all of the parts of it (energy clearing and movement, healing, expansion, connection), you can tune in each day to which part you need and the time can be shorter. And you can use these different parts throughout your day, as needed. But I always START my day off now with being still and connecting with myself and source (however, you choose to call it) in this meditation which allows me to move forward through my day from a place of love and awareness, empowering me to make healthy choices in my daily life with my food, with my thoughts, with my time, with my husband, with my children…
What we take in through our minds throughout the day has a profound effect on our mood and energy, affecting how we move through our days, months, years. This is true regarding our own negative or positive thoughts but also with all that we encounter and choose to watch or listen to. Starting our day off with mediation (and movement) gives us a running start for a better day overall, able to be more present and less reactive, more in tune with our needs and others’, more able to access our empathy and compassion for ourselves and others, more able to be creative, to think clearly, make the right choices, take action… and the list of benefits goes on.
It doesn’t have to be long. Honestly, you can start with even one minute where as soon as you open your eyes in the morning, while still lying in bed, you pause and notice. Notice how you are feeling – bring your attention into your body and see where the feeling is in your body and what it is like. Notice your thoughts that are causing the feelings. Notice that you can change how your feeling (if you’d like) by changing your thoughts. And choose a thought that makes you feel good, maybe about someone you love or something that you are grateful for. Soak in that feeling, really feel it in your body. And then off you go!
To learn more about energy acupuncture go here. “Traveling Within the Journey to 3 Steps to Finding your Inner Healer.”