Start Your Day Like You Mean It!
You may have heard the old saying that Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
A more interesting saying would be:
‘The attitude and posture you have while eating breakfast could be the most important decision of your day.’
In Part Three of my series on improving your Neuroplasticity through Complex Movement, I will share a loose template for a daily 20-minute Mindfulness, Movement, Fitness, and Breathwork practice.
In Part One, I talk about how modern life is taking many people down the Neurologically dangerous path of the Koala bear. An animal that lost much of its brains size due to a lack of complex movement. If you have not read Part One yet, tap here
In Part Two, I discussed six ways you can focus your attention to maximize your Mind/Body interconnectedness. The benefits of Neuroplasticity are more tangible to your brain and nervous system when you create combinations and associations in your fitness training and/or in your Spiritual practice. If you have not read Part Two yet, tap here
Is This Your New Morning Practice?
After a lot of self-experimentation, this is the best way to approach a morning Neuroplasticity boost in my experience. To keep this practice at 20-minutes, there will be four 5-minute sessions. If you choose to practice or play for longer, or for less time, 5-minute intervals are still a good base.
The theme of these articles is about not following in the footsteps of the Koala. If you wake up and follow the same routine, go to the same place and do the same thing all day, your very energy efficient brain will basically go into hibernation mode.
This is why a Neuroplasticity boost is the best in the morning. If you cannot fit this into your mornings, then try and commit to exploring your Mind/Body connection as soon as you get home from your day. If that won’t work, then an hour before bed with a focus on getting into a rest will still keep you from waking up looking and feeling like a Koala.
If you want some more information on why this is so much more effective in the morning, check out my video on Morning rituals and Neuroplasticity.
Music is optional, but it will significantly improve the benefit of most of these choices. If you are choosing a 5-minute session of stillness, then silence will help the most.
Session One – 5 Minutes of Breathwork
I like to start my Neuro-Boost days with a cold shower and then some intentional Breathwork.
If you have an established Breathwork practice, then go with your intuition. If you are new to Therapeutic Breathwork, then the best place to start is called Sensual Breathwork. We call it sensual breath work because your focus is on feeling into every possible sensual opportunity with each inhale and exhale.
It also helps to regulate your breath and body coordination by inhaling for a count of 5-6 heart beats, exhaling 5-6 heart beats out. You can use any device or clock that will count seconds, or you can find your pulse at your neck or wrist. Count your natural number of heartbeats as you inhale and exhale. By adding an incremental count to your breath, your sensual interactions will be easier to explore.
- Focus on what the breath feels like in your nose. What does an inhale feel like? An exhale…?
- Feel into your throat. How gentle can you breathe and still feel it pass your throat?
- Breathe into your upper chest. Move your ribs and shoulders around with your breath.
- Feel into every corner and inch of your diaphragm. Can you stretch it out in every direction at once?
- Fill your belly and your lower back like a strong balloon. Push it out of your way as you inhale, let the elastic nature of your whole body push the breath all of the way out.
- Breathe into the space of your heart. Occupy the space there with patience, compassion, and more space.
- Feel every heartbeat as a wave of breath. 5-6 heartbeats in, and 5-6 heartbeats out. Surf your sensual experience wherever your attention takes you.
- Music is up to you. It can make keeping the timing more sensual. Here is a link to an audio file to guide you through the Breathwork.
Remember that your objective is to create and play with Mind/Body connections to invigorate your circulation and challenge your brain. The long-term goal is to wake up and establish a baseline state of coherence, adaptability and presence.
Starting with intentional Breathwork will also get you ready for your next challenge.
Session Two – 5 Minutes of Resistance or Release
Now that you are charged up and full of Qi, it is time to decide what you want to explore next.
If I am going to spend the day in a chair talking with patients, I will usually activate my metabolism with some bodyweight resistance training.
If I am going to be physically active or be on my feet all day practicing Acupuncture, then I like to begin my day with some long and deep stretching.
A Deep Stretching Flow
If you are a veteran at deep stretching, congrats!
If you are new to this and want to avoid feeling beat up the next day, try this.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight, at about 90 degrees. If that is a stretch in itself, find a direction for your legs that is comfortable. If you cannot sit on the floor with your legs straight, sit on a pillow or three. If you can do the splits, cool! We are working on something else. About 90 degrees is enough.
Begin by elongating your spine and engaging your core. Gently tilt forward from inside of your hips and pelvis. DO NOT allow your lower spine or neck tilt or lean forward. Pretend you are doing a ‘Robot’ dance. As funny as that sounds, it actually helps you engage your core muscles. Then turn to the right, engage, elongate and tilt – don’t lean. Then your left side.
After you are comfortable with that, add a gentle twist after you have tilted in each direction. Again, the robot dance will engage your core.
After that, turn your robot dance into a Belly Dance. Keep your spine elongated, but gyrate your diagram like you are putting on a show.
Here is a video from my Somatic Qi Gong course to get you started
Stretching has profound benefits for your body and mind. Chronic stress and Trauma can create restrictions in your fascia. These embodied reactions and memories generate measurable congestion of inflammation, stress hormones and neurotransmitters. This turns your Mind/Body experience into a Christmas tree of subconscious danger or pain. Stretching, done intentionally, can release the congested Qi, or information that is stored in your restricted fascia. This is one of the many reasons that acupuncture is so effective.
A 5-Minute Micro-Workout
Nothing starts your day like 50 push-ups, crunches and chin-ups.
Any kind of resistance training or body weight training will help. If you are not sure how to safely fill a 5-minute micro workout, that is ok. Learn from a professional.
Chronic stress is all about cortisol and the anticipation of conflict or erosive challenges. Starting your day with physical exertion will help you ‘burn off’ and regulate your daily cortisol levels and it tells your nervous system you are a Bad-Ass who loves a challenge!
Session Three – 5 Minutes of Move, Move, or Move
If you chose to do a Micro Workout in Session two, then stretch in session 3, or try something new.
If you chose to stretch in Session 2, you can either focus on resistance training in Session 3 or try some intuitive or intentional movement.
Intuitive Release or Choreographed Precision?
This morning practice is meant to maximize your Neuroplasticity. If there was a Yin and Yang to your Mind/Body opportunities it would be intuitive movement for emotional release or something that has a lot of details and has to be done just right – in some way.
Intuitive Movement is just like it sounds. You can practice this sitting or standing or even walking. You can begin by getting very still or by moving around in some free form way. If you begin with stillness, just feeling into your body and being for any tension or sensation, and then simply see where your body wants to go. Music sometimes gets things moving, sometimes it gets in the way.
Breathwork is a great way to play with stillness and momentum. When I practice this way, as I am releasing tension, I turn it into circular movements. If the music is good and I’m in a good mood, then I just dance for the rest of the 5-Minutes.
If you are more into starting with movement, then start by swaying side to side or pretending you are doing a free-form version of Tai Chi.
If you are more drawn to finding your complex movement through precision, then there is a long menu of choices to choose from.
Complex Movement Practices
- Tai Chi (5-Minute)
- Qi Gong
- Martial Arts
- Choreographed Dance
Embracing yourself as potent, focused, coordinated and present in a great way to start your day!
Session Four – 5 Minutes of Stillness and Silence
So far, your morning practice has been about activating your physiology with breathwork and movement and getting comfortable n your body with all of the other choices.
Now it is time to ask, ‘Who is the one who is going to experience today?’
Begin by sitting or standing. If you are staying home and are OK with falling asleep again, then try this lying down.
Move around until you are comfortable and ready for a Deep Dive into the Void. Breath naturally and enjoy the sensual return to your breathe/body/self experience. Become so gentle with your breathing that you can barely feel your body moving.
Become a rock. If that is too still, then become a tree.
you talk to most people who are the had no 7 habits of really smart Effective People. Everyone does their action item list before bed. And then when you start your day off your start your day off moving into that that list of things to do
Your mind has a job. Save you from danger and consequences. If you are still as a rock and your mind says, ‘Talking with Cathy about addiction is going to hard…’
Smile. Thank your brain.
Don’t rehearse the conversation. Feel into the calmness you will need to one hundred percent present for a difficult conversation.
Think of this as applied Self-Trust.
Embody your day. If you know if you’re going to the gym later, embody the you that will be strong or competitive.
If you are going to the Dentist, can you find the readiness and stillness?
You want to embody your day not plan your day
If you’re going to do the same old same old, try and find more passionate playful way to relate to the same old same old.
You need to do it every day for 10 days in a row to really shift some of your body chemistry.
If you sit in a chair all day, this could save your life!
If you need some support accessing these skills, I offer a Somatic Qi Gong and Breathwork Course
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