Blog Posts,  Meditation

Mindful Mornings: Embracing the Power of Slow Starts

If you’re anything like me, you probably feel like you never have enough time in the day. It gets away from you, the seconds, minutes, and hours slipping from your grasp like sand through your fingers. It isn’t a good way to feel. Life seems to pass us by and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Life doesn’t happen to us, though. We are part of it – an active participant in the world around us.

Through time and therapy, I have learned that one way to keep myself from feeling like the world is passing me by is through mindfulness. Today, we’re going to explore the subject of mindfulness and why slowing down your morning can be good for your mind, body, and spirit.

Life Moves Too Fast

I have a child. She’s going to be 11 soon, and it feels like just yesterday I brought her into this world. That’s not true, though. Somehow, somewhere along the lines, 11 years have gone by. She has grown from this cute, chunky baby into an adolescent with an attitude (which I’m told is normal but sheesh!). I’m not the only one who experiences this, either. This is a common theme among people today, whether about children, their hobbies, or their hopes and dreams.

Everything around us moves at warp speed now. I’m pushing little buttons on my keyboard to transmit this to the internet. As soon as I push publish, it’s out there and ready for everyone to read. There’s no waiting, no calm period before my words hit your eyes. I can look up any information I want or need quite literally at my fingertips. Videos are fast and only getting faster – TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels are doing a number on our attention spans and dopamine addictions[1]. Our travel is fast, our minds move faster, and we want to do everything as fast as possible to receive that instant gratification. It’s been ingrained in us. It’s how the world works.

The Art Of Slowing Down

When we make a conscious decision to slow down, to remove ourselves from the paradigm of warp speed, we are actively fighting against the system that keeps us feeling horrible; this system keeps us addicted and dependent on our screens, and we miss everything that happens around us. It can be really difficult at first. We have been trained to get our information and entertainment from screens. It’s possible to move away from that, though, with practice.

Embracing mindfulness can be an integral part of your day and healing process. For me, it’s something I try to include regularly. I have to remember to do it. I have to force myself to get into that pattern. But what is mindfulness? And what does that have to do with slowing down?

Psychology Today defines mindfulness as “…living in the moment and reawakening oneself to the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.” It’s the art of simply being. There is no pressure to think about anything other than what’s happening right then. It’s not a natural state for most of us. We worry about bills, our children, our jobs, and our ever-growing list of things to do. That causes stress, more stress than we probably need.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t worry about things that are important or big. Not being able to pay your bills is a huge thing for a lot of people. It’s rightfully stressful and something to worry about. It’s the little moments, though, that we should pay attention to. Mindfulness helps us connect better to ourselves and our loved ones. It helps us remember the more positive events of our lives while the more negative ones stay in the back of our minds. Mindfulness forces us to slow down because we have to be present in the moment. We can’t be mindful and scroll through social media. We can’t be mindful and actively worry about something that’s happening. Mindfulness helps us live slower.

Tips To Embrace Slow Mornings

One way that I have been embracing mindfulness and slowing down is with my mornings. I do my best to leave my phone alone for an hour in the morning. I don’t like having the TV on. Instead, I like to have my coffee and sit at the counter. I take my dog outside to do her business. I may sit and read or crochet. Sometimes, I’ll journal and pull a few tarot cards. It depends on my morning and how I’m feeling. Some days are more difficult than others, and it’s okay if I can’t have my slow morning. No matter the case, here are some of my tips for embracing slow mornings.

Make The Time

If you constantly feel like you don’t have the time, you might not. Evaluate your morning routine and see if you can find lost time. Do you sit on your phone for 10 minutes scrolling social media? Are you a get-up-and-go person who wakes up with only enough time for the necessities? Giving yourself a slow morning will require a bit of time, and you may not be used to that. If you need to, wake up a few minutes early. In those few minutes, take some time to take deep breaths, meditate, or gratitude journal.

No Screens For An Hour

Our phones and computers are designed to be convenient for us. They’re designed to give us easy access to the people in our lives and the information we find important. The apps on our phones, however, are designed to suck us in and keep us there, constantly scrolling to earn ad revenue for whatever corporation. Checking your phone in the morning and being bombarded with notifications and a constant stream of information can cause a sense of urgency[2]. When we feel like things are urgent, we move fast and it is more difficult to slow down. Not to mention the light from our screens can disrupt our natural circadian rhythm. So, no matter how hard it is, leave your phone alone unless necessary.

Create A Morning Basket

Similar to the idea of morning baskets for homeschooled children, this basket is designed to give you pre-determined things to do in the morning. The more things are already planned out, the less you have to think about them. Give yourself the gift of not making decisions first thing in the morning. Put together a list of things you’d like to do in the morning. Make sure they’re things you’ll actually do – don’t put down that you’ll go for a 10-minute walk if the likelihood of you doing that is slim. Gather everything together if possible and put it in one spot. Then all you have to do in the morning is sit in your comfortable space, choose from your basket, and enjoy your morning.

Make Your Space Comfortable

No one wants to have a slow and peaceful morning if their space isn’t comfortable. Don’t sit in hard chairs unless that’s all you have. Get some blankets and pillows – or my favorite: squishmallows! If you like candles, consider getting a scented candle to make your space feel more warm and inviting. Comfort is key here. This is an invitation to yourself to slow down. If your space isn’t comfortable, you’re more likely to avoid it and your slow morning.

Remove Distractions

Distractions are the bane of my existence as someone with ADHD. Something shiny? Distracted. Something loud? Distracted. Random train of thought? Distracted! This is where mindfulness comes in; remembering to remind myself that I’m existing in the moment and those things don’t matter right now. If you are easily distracted, slow mornings may be difficult for you. Do your best to remove these distractions. Place your phone in another room. Keep the TV off. If you’re distracted by your thoughts, consider keeping a notepad next to you to jot them down. I’ve found that getting my thoughts from my head onto paper helps me refocus. Then I know I won’t worry about forgetting the thing I want to remember because I’ve already written it down!

Give Yourself Grace

Everyone makes mistakes and falls short of their goals. That’s okay! It’s a necessary part of life and learning, even more so when we’re trying to break bad habits. If you mess up and look at your phone, it’s okay. If you skip over your slow morning because you have deadlines to hit, or the kids are sick, or you’re sick? It’s okay!

Maybe the routine isn’t working for you at all. Maybe something needs to change and your slow mornings are more chaotic than they should be. Change it! Switch it up to figure out what works for you! The Slow Morning Police aren’t going to knock at your door and tell you how terrible you’re doing. You’re not doing a terrible job, even when you mess up and skip your routine. Don’t beat yourself up about it – give yourself the grace to remember that you’re learning.

The important thing to remember about embracing mindfulness and slow mornings is the benefits it should have. If you find that there’s no benefit to a slow morning and it’s causing you more stress, then ditch the idea! Have a slow evening instead, or simply practice mindfulness throughout the day to remind you to stay present. The practice should work for you, not feel like a burden or something you have to force yourself to do.

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