Brrrrrrrng! The alarm goes off. With a groan you roll over and hit the snooze button, but do you really expect to get any more sleep in those 10 minutes? I think not. There’s some real truth to the old adage, “you snooze, you lose”. But, I have found a way to “win with those extra 10″! I call it my “morning beditation”. It’s a wake up call that is also the answer to starting your day in a mindful way. It’s based on the Body Scan Meditation that is popular as an initial practice for beginner meditators. However, instead of just becoming aware of, and sending our attention to the various sensations in different parts of the body, my morning beditation awakes and refreshes the whole body, and creates the time and space for a “sensational” day!
1. A Sure-Footed Start
Begin by laying on your back with your arms slightly away from your body with your palms facing up. You can keep your eyes closed or find a spot on the ceiling to gaze at. Take a deep breath or a yawn. On the exhale, curl your toes as tightly as you can toward the balls of your feet and hold it for a second or two. Release, and inhale as you flex your toes backward, spreading them far apart to look like Fred Flintstone toes. Now, as you breathe out, point your feet toward the end of the bed, making the soles as flat against the mattress as possible. Then, breathe in and bend your feet back toward your body and hold it for a couple of seconds. For the final bit of fancy footwork, wiggle and shake your feet loosely from side to side. Just let them flap around for a few seconds.
2. & 3. Getting a Leg Up and your Butt in Gear
First, with your legs out straight, and feet pointed straight up, press your knees into the bed so that your heels come off the surface slightly. You should feel a gentle stretch in your calves. As you release this, inhale and guide your right knee up as close to your chest as possible. Hold it for a second and then put your foot flat on the bed, keeping your knee bent. Take a full breath, and on the exhale, repeat the same motions with your left leg. With both knees bent and both feet flat on the bed, it’s time to get your butt in gear!Gently squeeze your butt cheeks together and lift your rear off the bed by pushing from your flat feet. Try to keep your shoulders and arms resting comfortably on the bed. At the end of the hold, slowly put your hips back on the bed and stretch your legs out straight. If it’s difficult or uncomfortable to lift your hips off the bed, just keep them on the mattress and squeeze and release your cheeks 4 or 5 times.
4. Reaching Middle Ground
That is, as you take a deep breath in, watch your belly and chest naturally expand. But, push it out a little further — make yourself look “prego”. At the top of your breath, pause and then exhale fully while your belly and chest flatten, but suck in your gut as far as you can. Act like you’re trying to button those jeans you wore when you were in college! Repeat 2 more times. C’mon, you can stomach it. Next, lay in a neutral position and bend sideways, as if reaching for your heel, but without lifting any part of your body off the bed. Just go far enough to feel a stretch in the extended side of your torso. Then, repeat on the other side.
5. A Little Necking
Well, sort of. Since necking usually starts with that “meaningful look from across a crowded room”, go ahead and turn your head to the far right to gaze at your partner, or your pet, or just the edge of the pillow. When you do, your chin should be over your shoulder. Inhale as you turn your head and exhale as you bring it back to center. Do this again to the far left. Now, tilt your head to the right so that your ear is as close to your shoulder as possible, but don’t bring your shoulder up to meet it. Stick your neck out — you’ll be better for it! Tilt it back to the left, and then tilt it forward toward your chest. The tilting will probably be easier without a pillow under your head. After this, you’re ready to “shoulder on”. So, with your arms laying straight by your sides, shrug both shoulders up toward your ears, and hold for a second. Then, let them drop back down heavily.Do a total of 3 sets.
With your elbows tucked into your sides and pushing down into the bed, your palms facing up, swing only your lower arms up and down as if you’re making a short-armed “sheet angel” (five full swipes ought to do it). Next, bring your lower arms straight up on top of your upper arms and tap yourself on the front of your shoulders 5 times, and end with your arms laying out straight by your sides.
7. Give Yourself A Hand
You’re more than halfway done! Start as we did with the feet. Clinching all ten fingers at the first knuckle, give a quick squeeze and then release and spread your fingers as far and wide as you can. Relax your stretched fingers and swirl your wrists in one direction slowly, then the other direction, and finally, shake them out rapidly. Immediately follow this by interlacing your fingers in front of your body and turn them inside out so that your palms are facing the foot of the bed. Keep your hands in this position and while you inhale deeply, raise your arms up and over your head. Then, exhale and relax your hands and arms, but leave them above your head.
8. Time to Face the Day
Open your eyes wide, lifting your eyebrows high, then close them tight, like squinting with your eyes shut. Open them again and move only your eyeballs from far right to far left, toward the back of your head and down your nose. For the rest of your face, do whatever feels good — scrunch your nose, flare your nostrils, push your lips around, drop your jaw, wiggle your ears (if you can) — whatever you want, and then end it with a couple of huge, deep breaths! Take the first one in and out through your nose. Take the 2nd one in through your nose, but let it out through your mouth with a big and hearty “HA”!
9. Listen Up
It’s time to relax your body and face, and perk up your ears to just listen to the sounds of morning. Maybe the birds are singing, or there’s a dog barking in the distance. Perhaps you can hear the wind in the trees or traffic from the street, voices outside or the subtle movements of someone moving about in another room of the house. The idea is to just notice the noises and then let them pass. Don’t attach any thought to them or let them affect your feelings. They are all signs of life — signs of YOUR life. So, keep a smile on your face, and in your heart, and thank the Universe for these 10 extra minutes of being alive!
That’s right. Go ahead and laugh right out loud!Begin by gently turning the corners of your mouth upward and start smiling softly. Then, broaden your smile and start laughing without exerting any force. Deepen your laughter so you feel it from your belly, and can hear it resonate throughout the room and into your heart. Try and laugh ‘with’ yourself or a partner, but not ‘at’ or ‘about’ someone or something. The reason to do this? In the words of Osho, “When you have a heartfelt belly laugh, all parts of your being – the physiological, the psychological, the spiritual – they all vibrate in one single tune, they all vibrate in harmony”. And if that’s not convincing enough, just remember the proverb, “he who laughs last, laughs best”!
You may be thinking this is nothing but a sequence of stretches, and on one level it is. On a higher level, it’s a blood-pumping, cobweb-clearing, eye-opening, easy-breathing, heart-warming way to welcome the day! Let’s just say that the old days of “Rise and Shine” are gone. With this morning beditation, you are ready to “Get Up and Glow”!