Start Your Day like a Roman Emperor
If I could invite just five historic figures to my dinner table, I would include the Roman Emperor/Philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. How fascinating it would be to hear him converse and argue his points with the other 4. Over 2000 years ago he kept a journal in which he laid out a 5 step #Mindfulness practice.
Here's what #MarcusAurelius had to say about purposefully programming what you resonate with, about setting the tone for the day:
"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."- Marcus Aurelius Meditations
"What a precious privilege..."
It's a statement filled with appreciation and even awe.
When we approach our lives with awe and appreciation, we create a physical/neurological/chemical cascade that supports physical and mental health and frees up our resources for what we consciously choose for the day. We optimize our internal voice and dynamically affect our relationships with the stories of our life. There's a growing body of neuroscience that supports Marcus Aurelius' prescription. ***
The order of what to focus on is very deliberate.
He starts with the existential -
appreciating the very fact of being alive and existing.
Then he shifts focus to the body -
to breathing, which in Latin is "respire" - literally to re-infuse with spirit. The breath in Latin, Marcus Aurelius' native language, is related to inspiration.
This leads us to the mind -
the capacity to be aware and to contemplate the fact of our existence and to employ the mind to bring inspiration into manifestation, to create out story.
Then we move to Emotion -
the capacity to be in relationship with the things we manifest, the ability to enjoy (and not enjoy).
Aurelius ends with the Spiritual -
the capacity to love invariably reveals itself as the reason for existence, which in the end brings us back around to the beginning, appreciating the existential, the fact that we are aware of being alive.
It's a beautiful, circular mindfulness practice. For this reason I suggest you follow each step in order.
If you use an alarm, give yourself adequate snooze time to do this exercise. I've proposed some starter thoughts and suggestions for each step, things that have come up for me and those with whom I have worked. I hope you'll discover your own relationship with this practice.
1. "What a precious privilege it is to be alive."
Become aware of how comfortable or uncomfortable you are with that statement. Do you go to an immediate state of appreciation and awe? Are you indifferent? Do you find yourself confronting your relationship with the "why" of it all, the purpose for getting up today? Pay attention to your reaction and let it be. Can you appreciate how extraordinary it is that you have a mind and spirit that grapple with that existential challenge?
Just notice and move on to step 2.
2. "What a precious privilege it is to breath."
Become aware of what your body is doing as it takes in and expels air. Pay attention to your relationship with your breath. Is it comfortable, uncomfortable, shallow, deep, panicky, measured. Can you just notice without trying to change your breathing and appreciate that it sustains life through all these feelings it brings up?
Notice and move on to step 3.
3. "What a precious privilege it is to think."
Become aware of how your mind is working. Pay attention to it. Is it moving a mile a minute? Does it cover a lot of territory really quickly? Does it jump back and forth? Does it tend to drill into a single focus? Is it looking for stimulus? Is it waiting to react? Is it still? What is your mind good at? Can you accept what it is good at? How will you use what it's good at today? How do you respond to what your mind is good at? Can you appreciate how special it is to be consciously aware of and to engage with being alive!
Notice and move on to step 4.
4. "What a precious privilege it is to enjoy."
Become aware of your relationship with your capacity for enjoyment. Pay attention to what you were taught about enjoyment and it's influence on whether and how you allow yourself to enjoy. Can you appreciate your capacity for enjoyment as an invitation to deeper, more profound appreciation and gratitude?
Notice and move on to step 5.
5. "What a precious privilege it is to love."
This is the privilege that defines the others.
It is the culmination and the answer to all the things revealed by the first 4 steps.
Become aware of and pay attention to how near appreciation has brought you to love.
As you go about your business, notice how your day is going.
What's the same?
The effects are cumulative.
#WhatNewChoicesWillYouMake, what will you resonate with and cast light upon if you start your day with this mindfulness practice which culminates with love in response to the statement:What a precious privilege it is to be alive?
Advocating for #Kindness in all aspects of how we resonate with ourselves and others,
I remain yours,
Cultivate your Resonance and shine your Light in a world that needs your gifts.
Researchers at UC Berkeley have found that ...people who are generally more grateful... showed greater neural sensitivity in the brain area associated with learning and decision making." And there is more evidence that it positively affects dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, even affecting hormones like cortisol and oxytocin. (Google it. It's a wonderful rabbit hole to fall into).
Michelle Shiota, professor of psychology at Arizona State University talks about the science behind the understanding of how awe contributes to our bodies and minds and how fundamental it is to our thriving.
And from Scientific American Magazine, here's an excerpt from an article called "What is the function of the various brainwaves"? When an individual awakes from a deep sleep in preparation for getting up, their brainwave frequencies will increase through the different specific stages of brainwave activity. If that individual hits the snooze alarm button they will drop in frequency to a non-aroused state, or even into theta... During this awakening cycle it is possible for individuals to stay in the theta state for an extended period of say, five to 15 minutes--which would allow them to... contemplate the activities of the forthcoming day. This time can be an extremely productive and can be a period of very meaningful and creative mental activity.
Fully embody your voice and release yourself into your unique resonance with the tools at resonanceandlight.com. Shine your light in a world that needs your gifts.
© Monica Schober, Resonance and Light™ 2018. A link back to this blog post and credit to resonanceandlight.com is required in order to share it on any media. Thank you.