Hello and welcome back to Face-to-Face. I'm Pilar Gerasimo.
In a recent episode of Face-to-Face, I shared with you some of the insights I got from Cindy Joseph, about the importance of prioritizing pleasure in our lives.
Today, I wanna expand on that idea and focus a little bit on a particular aspect of pleasurable experience as it applies to our mornings.
“Cindy and I had one very important practice in common… the way we spent our mornings.”
Mornings are probably the most influential time of our day, and how we set the stage for our days to go.
One thing I learned from hanging out with Cindy is that we had one very important practice in common. This was the way we spent our mornings.
Both of us like to get up, make a cup of coffee or tea, and then spend the first part of our days in a pretty quiet low-key way. We might putter around a little bit. We might sit down and read a journal. Or step outside and enjoy the beauty of the day as it's dawning, listening to the birds, the breeze, smelling what's on the air.
But neither one of us was a big fan of waking up and going straight to our devices. Neither one of us was a big fan of turning on the radio or TV. And neither one of us was really even a fan of getting into big conversations first thing in the morning or diving into activity.
Cindy and I both really valued the first few minutes of our day being just for us, even when we were together.
I want to encourage you to experiment with this practice I call the Morning Minutes Practice. I formalized it in a few ways in my book, The Healthy Deviant, A Rule Breaker's Guide to Being Healthy in An Unhealthy World.
I found out that choosing to spend the first few minutes of your day like this really is a revolutionary, renegade healthy deviant act, because the vast majority of people do wake up to their devices and to the media.
What happens is the first thing you see is full of alerts, and blips and blings. And it can make you feel kind of crazy.
“By just taking those first three minutes, you start your day on a very different vibe that serves you well.”
There aren't a lot of rules about how to go about doing your morning minutes practice, but I will offer you a few guidelines.
The first is to take the first three minutes before you get into any media or devices or digital distractions. And there are a few reasons for that.
The base minimum commitment of three minutes is so short that I'd like to think it can overcome a lot of our mental barriers, like the idea that we don't have enough time, we're too busy.
You can take the first three minutes of your day. And if you can't, it really is sending you a signal. If the story that you're telling yourself is you can't make three minutes for yourself, it probably means that you're telling yourself you don't have time for a lot of other things that are important.
But by beginning with the first three minutes of your day, you create a little space for choice. And I think that will tend to grow over time.
The other really important thing about those first three minutes is that in that very brief period between sleeping and waking, there's an in-between state where your brain is very vulnerable and impressionable. You can use that first three minutes to your advantage by deciding how you're going to spend it in the service of your own health and happiness and sanity.
Or you can give your vulnerable impressionable mind over to the forces that be. When you do that, unfortunately, you're taking your brain at its most impressionable and allowing all of the forces of mass media, social media, news, politics, everything that might be distressing to you to come straight into your vulnerable mind.
When you're asleep, your brain is in this state called delta brainwave state. And it's this long flowing series of brainwaves. When you're fully awake, you're in beta, which is a very spiky fast pattern.
In between, there's the space called theta, T-H-E-T-A. It's sort of in between the two. It is this time where your brain is in a kind of impressionable plastic state, and you're somewhere between conscious and subconscious. It's somewhere between the rational, organized mind and the creative, free thinking mind.
So you might find that by just taking those first three minutes you get your day started on a very different vibe that really serves you well.
“I use this piece of signage to help remind me that I’ve committed myself to doing my morning practice.”
Now, you might be thinking, "A three-minute morning practice? Easy. How hard can that be?"
Turns out it's actually more challenging than it sounds. Because we're habituated to doing things the way we do them and because sometimes other people are pretty habituated to having things go the way they've always gone, changing even a simple little habit like this can be tough.
I'm giving you in the form of a printout that you can cut out your own little cart, and fold it up for yourself, and then use it.
You can put it right on top of your device, like your iPhone or iPad, or what you tend to reach for first. Or you can create this little sign and put it on your bedside table, or your kitchen counter, or wherever you're going to see it next. This just looks like that.
The nice thing about having signage is that your environment tends to drive your behavior. When you make a change to your environment, like putting a little tent card on your device, you'll find it gives you just that little bit of extra help in changing your choices.
“The one rule is I’m doing something I want to do.”
Now, how you do your morning practice is entirely up to you.
As I mentioned, the most important thing is that you are doing something that’s pleasurable to you and that you enjoy, and that allows you to come to waking gradually.
I have some consistent things that I like to do to make it a more ritualized practice.
One, for example, is that I always light a beeswax candle. When I start my day with the smell of beeswax and the beauty of the candle being lit, it just helps it feel like a more sacred practice to me.
The other thing I like to do is always have a favorite mug or cup of coffee. I like coffee with cream. Cindy Joseph loved English breakfast tea. It’s always really fun to just sit down and have the physical pleasure of enjoying a hot cup of coffee or tea. It just really felt good to me in a way that, you know, diving into yoga didn't.
Although I now do yoga as part of my morning practice sometimes, the only rule that I have is that on the day I'm doing this thing, it's what I want to do.
A lot of days, I end up journaling. I just sit with my journal and I write down thoughts that have come to me.
Sometimes it’s dreams that I had overnight. Sometimes I'll envision the way I want my day to go. I'll create affirmations and intentions and write them down in my journal.
I do a lot of other things. Sometimes I pet my dog. Sometimes I play my guitar. Sometimes I just step outside and notice what the weather is like and dream up the day that I want to have.
“I know that Cindy Joseph would approve of us having a little more pleasure in our days.”
So my encouragement is to give this a try and see what happens.
Prepare for the possibility of resistance—either your own or other people's. Then figure out how you can overcome that because if you can succeed in claiming the first three minutes of the day for yourself, you'll find you have a lot more success in reclaiming other parts of your day and other parts of your life so that they work better for you too.
In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy experimenting with this practice and making it your own. I know that Cindy Joseph would approve of all of us having a little more pleasure in our days.
What do you think of this Morning Minutes Practice?