Below is my latest article posted on the brandedyyc website. Step two of my 12 step process I am calling, 12 Steps to a Whole New Mind.
Check out the branded website for lots of other local and fun articles. Let me know what you think xo
STEP TWO OF 12 STEPS TO A WHOLE NEW MIND.
Last month I introduced the first article of this year-long editorial by focusing on the foundation, obviously a great place to start with anything. If you didn’t catch that article, take a few minutes to circle back to appreciate the order in which I am layering these concepts and tools.
The next step, and one that I often consider to be the most pivotal in my own understanding and growth, is a morning routine. It has been said that all it takes is 10 minutes a day of focused intentional energy towards a goal to feel like you are making progress. Let me repeat, 10 minutes a day. I don’t care how busy you are, how many companies you own, how many projects you have left until the last minute possible…everyone can spare 10 minutes each day to go inwards and focus on self-care, self-development and self-love. That’s what the morning routine is all about. It is a chance for you to slow down, take stock on how you are feeling, what you want to accomplish and what intention will help you achieve your goal.
Before we dive into the specifics of a morning routine, it’s important to understand the WHY. Whatever we focus on, we create more of. Wherever you focus your attention, you build new or stronger neural connections simply by shining light on whatever you are experiencing. As my all-time favourite mantra sings, “Where your mind goes, energy flows”. The words we use create a ripple effect within ourselves, as well as the environment around us. When we narrate each passing moment, when we communicate our story to others and to ourselves, when we project meaning onto our experiences and when we reflect on our past or project into the future, the words we use carry incredible power in how they make us feel.
As I mentioned in the last article, author Shad Helmstetter – in the book What we say when we talk to ourselves – states that up to 77 per cent of what the average person thinks is negative. According to the National Science Foundation, the average person thinks 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day (depending on how deep of a thinker you are). This means that we create 9,240 to 38,500 negative thoughts in just one day. No wonder we have an epidemic of depression, anxiety, obesity and an overall lack of enthusiasm for positivity. I think it’s about time that we changed this fact.
Retrain Your Brain
Your mind is a unique combination of neural pathways that have connected through life experience and repetition. The more you repeat a thought, relive an experience, tell a story or hold onto a belief, the more that neural pathway ingrains as a fluid path of least resistance. Your reptilian brain – where habits are stored – doesn’t know if that habitual thought pattern, reaction, or behaviour is healthy, all it knows is what is comfortable, easy, and has allowed you to survive thus far. This is where conscious awareness and effort comes in. John Coates articulates this beautifully in his book The Hour between Dog and Wolf,
“Consciousness is merely a bystander observing a decision already taken, almost like watching ourselves on video – with the power of ‘veto’ when mindful of doing so.”
If you have a habit that is not serving you well, you must talk yourself out of it by first acknowledging the change you want to make, catching it in action and practicing in opportune moments to react differently. It’s time to bring the phrase “do-over” into your vocabulary.
New connections in your brain are forged when you notice the thought pattern, and then consciously react differently so that new neural connections are formed. It then takes repetition for 21 to 50 days, to create a highly myelinated neural pathway that can take over as the path of least resistance from the previously ingrained habit. Sound complicated? It is, because it’s always easier said than done. But here is how you can make this change happen.
Set an Intention
In order to change habitual thought patterns, we need to take time daily to notice our thoughts and consciously shift our self-talk to serve who we want to be and how we want to show up. The act of setting an intention for your day will help with this.
Sit comfortably with a tea or coffee, take a few deep mindful breaths and reflect on how you want to show up for the day ahead.
What do you need more of in your life today?
Courage, Mindfulness, Passion, Open, Curious, Engaged, Connected, Receptive, Action, Posture, Self-Love, Gratitude, etc.
Know that it starts with you. Your intention is your anchor, your direction and your reminder in a simple but powerful affirmation of how you want to engage with the world and with yourself.
Write your intention down and put a circle around it. Branch off from that core word and add more positive, action-oriented, empowering, inspiring, and energetic words that embody what a full day of embracing this intention will look and feel like. The act of focusing on your intention and filling a page with synonyms and actions for your day, will begin to activate happy chemicals (more on this in articles to come) and get your mind away from negativity or “baggage” from the previous day.
The act of getting your heart rate up and engaging with your breath in a mindful and intentional manner, brings your bodily system back to equilibrium. It also releases a few growth hormones in your brain to aid in mood balancing, memory, learning, coping with stress and overall sense of happiness.
Whether you make time in the morning as part of your routine, or get a sweat in at lunch or after work, it is important to make this a priority. Don’t think of this just as time to work on your body, but rather a pivotal ingredient in keeping your mind healthy, stable and open.
We are all busy people. We have jobs, hobbies, responsibilities, several roles to play and relationships that take time to keep healthy and moving forward. Set yourself up with reminders to keep these positive vibes flowing all day long. Write sticky notes to yourself and leave them in your car or around your home. Set reminders in your phone to pop up at pre-determined times throughout your day. Get your friends and family involved by making sweat dates or expressing the need for accountability and support. You will be surprised by how well and how quickly you will feel and see the change you want in your life when you focus on it a few minutes each day.
If you are interested in hearing more or want to inquire about personal coaching or workshops, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out my website at www.dopeame.com for more inspiration. I am offering a six-week Yoga and dope(a)me FUNdamentals course starting mid March – The Path to Change – check out my website for more details.
Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow
The Hour between Dog and Wolf by John Coates
Spark by John Ratey