Mindful Mornings with Harmonia
Here at Harmonia, we value and believe in a peaceful start to your day. There is something so beautiful about being awake before the rest of the world; it gives you time to make your coffee, to read the news or cuddle your dog, with no sense of urgency. This is why we are invested in the idea that rising approximately 30 to 60 minutes earlier than your usual wake-up call is lifechanging. These precious minutes in the morning set a peaceful tone and provide a calm start to your day. There is an abundance of ways in which you can enhance your morning routine; with this extra time to yourself, you may wish to...
Write down your thoughts or a to-do list
One way you could do this is by journaling, either you can use prompting questions such as ‘are you feeling motivated this morning?’ or just see where your pen takes you. Additionally, to do lists are a great way to give your brain a break; when we try to remember 10 different tasks, at least 1 is usually neglected. By writing down these thoughts and tasks on paper, you are emptying your mind and creating room for productivity. This method helps to alleviate stress and organise the day ahead.
Meditate and practise Mindfulness
Meditation is a well-practised method for stress management and self-awareness, it also boasts a range of health benefits such as improving cognition and cardiovascular health, (Horowitz, 2010). This process is incredibly powerful for the brain, it harbours silence and focuses on breathing techniques to calm the mind. Mindfulness is a more recently discovered practise which is similar but relies on the importance of the ‘now’.
There is no moment like the present; a famous quote states that the past brings depression, the future brings anxiety whilst the present brings peace (a quote by Lao Tzu). Although this is a simplified motto, we can learn a lot from it.
If you would like to follow along with a mindful session with Harmonia, please see below for the audio.
You can play this as a guide. Furthermore, there are many apps that also run these sessions, such as Headspace and Calm. You can make use of either, or both these resources if you would prefer a guided approach.
We also have a guide which shares advice on mindful breathing techniques, helping you to perfect this skill and enhance your session, please see below.
We are not saying you have to complete an intense workout before 8am to feel good, because any form of movement is beneficial to our mental wellbeing. You may wish to take a 10-minute walk outside, follow along with a Pilates video on YouTube, or just simply stretch. Movement produces endorphins, which are mood-boosting neurotransmitters, (Dishman & O’Connor, 2009). Imagine experiencing this euphoric feeling before you’ve even started your day!
Sit and watch the sunrise/drink your coffee/pet your dog/anything you like
This step is a little simpler, it needs to be something that you really, genuinely love. When the alarm goes off on an early, cold January morning, you must love this step enough for it to act as the motivation for you to get up. If you look forward to your morning coffee, then make sure you set aside 10 minutes to do this, without distractions. This leads me on to the next step...
Stay off your phone/laptop
This last little tip can be customized to your own preferences; however, we would recommend staying off technology for the first half an hour after waking (or longer if you can). This will allow you to soak in all the benefits of the aforementioned steps. Often anxiety is brought on by reading the news, checking up on social media or looking at texts. If you can commit to waking a little earlier, then you won’t be behind by the time you get around to replying to work.
To conclude, after years of research and practice, we are invested in mindful mornings because we know how beneficial it is to a healthy mind (Coronado-Montoya et al., 2016).
The primary goal of mindful breathing is simply a clam, non-judging awareness, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without getting caught up in them.
Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed and your spine reasonably straight.
Bring your attention to your breathing.
Imagine that you have a balloon in your tummy. Every time you breathe in, the balloon inflates. Each time you breathe out, the balloon deflates. Notice the sensations in your abdomen as the balloon inflates and deflates. Your abdomen rising with the in-breath and falling with the outbreath.
Thoughts will come into your mind, and that’s okay, because that’s just what the human mind does. Simply notice those thoughts, then bring your attention back to your breathing.
Likewise, you can notice sounds, physical feelings, and emotions, and again, just bring your attention back to your breathing.
You don’t have to follow these thoughts or feelings, don’t judge yourself for having them, or analyse them in any way. It’s okay for the thoughts to be there. Just notice these thoughts, and let them drift on by, bringing your attention back to your breathing.
Whenever you notice that your attention has drifted off and is becoming caught up in thoughts or feelings, simply note that the attention has drifted, and then gently bring the attention back to your breathing.
It’s okay and natural for thoughts to enter into your awareness, and for your attention to follow them. No matter how many times this happens, just keep brining your attention back to your breathing.
Coronado-Montoya, S., Levis, A. W., Kwakkenbos, L., Steele, R. J., Turner, E. H., & Thombs, B. D. (2016). Reporting of positive results in randomized controlled trials of mindfulness-based mental health interventions. PloS one, 11(4), e0153220.
Dishman, R. K., & O'Connor, P. J. (2009). Lessons in exercise neurobiology: the case of endorphins. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 2(1), 4-9.
Horowitz, S. (2010). Health benefits of meditation: What the newest research shows. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 16(4), 223-228.
Mindful Mornings with Harmonia
Author | India Walton