Starting each day with a clear mind and an open heart does not happen by chance! There are practical steps we can take so that we live in a state of inner equilibrium regardless of the outer challenges we may face.
1. Set your intention for the day
When you wake in the morning, give thanks for another day. Enjoy a relaxing stretch in bed, filling your lungs with fresh air, breathing out any heaviness from the night. Read an excerpt from a spiritual text or something that uplifts your spirit and reminds you of the purpose of your own existence. This will help set your intentions for the day, before the busyness begins. Your intention might be to practice kindness, compassion or respect for all people – including yourself.
2. Come to your senses
Wherever you are, be there! Your body is always in the present yet your mind is forever projecting into the future or rehashing the past. Practice awareness of the present moment by coming to your senses. Be aware of your posture, the shape of your body and the touch of your clothing; notice its texture, the temperature that your clothing helps create. Feel the air moving against the skin of your hands and face. Listen to all of the sounds around you. Let your listening run right out until you hear the clouds passing. Then focus on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Let any thoughts or feelings come to pass without holding on to any of them.
3. Identify your stressors
Learn to identify the people or situations which generally cause you to react rather than respond. Practice increasing your awareness of what happens in your body when you encounter stressful situations. Does your pulse increase? Do you feel tight in your chest or your throat? Do you sweat or get butterflies in your stomach? Does your jaw tighten or does your head feel like it is going to burst? It is better not to speak or act from a state of reaction.
4. Be present to the breath
Awareness of the breath allows you to more easily respond rather than react to life’s challenges. We can’t always control what happens to us in life but we can control how we respond to the things that happen. We may not be able to avoid becoming emotionally upset, but we can control the intensity and duration of that upset and how we express it.
5. Don’t take your life so personally
Learn not to take yourself quite so seriously. If you can laugh at yourself you will be endlessly amused. Your body secretes endorphins when you laugh, These natural hormones give you a natural high and empower your immune system. Where possible, escalate a smile into a chuckle, a chuckle into a laugh and a laugh into a belly-shaking one. A light-hearted approach to life allows us to be spontaneous and available to people in the present moment.
6. Know yourself
Become aware of your attitudes, beliefs and reactions. Be willing to be a work in progress. This gives you the chance to change your judgements of yourself and others. Know what replenishes you and make sure that those things happen in your life. If music, nature, singing, dancing, reading, gardening or other activity replenishes you, then make sure those things are present in your life on a regular basis.
7. Use it or lose it
Exercising for 40 minutes can reduce stress levels for up to 3 hours. Find regular and enjoyable exercise which can be realistically incorporated into your life. Walking and swimming are 2 of the most beneficial forms of exercise and improve your circulation, breathing and the functioning of all your organs.
8. Letting go of the past
The past cannot be undone. Forgiving is not the same as condoning. True forgiveness is an internal act and does not need the involvement of the person or situation in which we felt wounded. The essence of forgiveness is that we liberate ourselves from reacting from feelings of being hurt or wounded.
9. Learn relaxation techniques
Familiarity with progressive relaxation techniques helps us to recognise when we are becoming stressed. Having the ability to physically unwind is the first step to letting go of mental tension. Regular use of a good relaxation practice will take the stress out of learning the technique.
10. Learn to meditate
Learning to meditate can be the next simple step in relaxing the mind so that it becomes quieter. With a quiet and focused mind our intuition, inspiration and imagination become more readily accessible. Meditation is one of the greatest tools for improving clarity, concentration and memory, and for achieving mastery over our lives.
— Excerpt from ‘Your Life Matters’ by Petrea King. Available from our online bookshop
If you would like to learn more about ways to increase happiness in your life, please join one us for a Healing Your Life program. Healing Your Life is a nurturing 5-day interactive group education program at the Quest for Life centre in Bundanoon, NSW that provides you with a wealth of practical skills and strategies for peace of mind, resilience and healing. Find out more …