I am ever evolving in heart, and my conscious search for joy and peace in daily life has lead me to a few “practices” that have brought my much of both. I like the word “practices” because it sounds so fancy, like I am a monk in a church far up in the mountains and I wake at 4 a.m. to to begin my *practices* for the day. Just to be clear, that is not what goes down in my mornings. When we’re off tour, I sleep in until a solid 8:30. I go into my sewing/piano room and on ideal, spacious days, I don’t come out until 10:30. The contrast of all that lovely time to sleep in and have space to myself to grow is *tour life*, which consists of 5 hours of sleep, 30 seconds of mindfulness when I’m brushing my teeth, and me in the back of the van with headphones on, trying to recreate the scene with 6 other guys jacked up on starbucks all around me. It is wonderful!
Back to my ideal mornings. It is one of those right now. I am writing this from my sewing room, with Yogi Rasberry Passion tea in my mug (ohmygosh) and my favorite scented candle flickering on my desk next to me. I am in cozy leopard pajamas and wrapped in a purple blanket hand knitted by a fan. There is love all around me:)
But on a really great morning, the good stuff will start even before this. On a really great morning, when I remember, I will wake up intentionally thinking something wonderful. I will give thanks, I will physically smile, I will fill my heart with good thoughts of joy. This is all “on purpose”, intentional stuff, to combat the natural, auto pilot thoughts of things like the workload ahead of me, the stupid things I did yesterday, and thoughts of complaining.
A lot of mornings, I am too tired and lazy to think all these wonderful things first thing, so I drag myself out of bed and watch something brilliant online. There is so much life giving, inspiring content, and I have my favorite go-tos that I turn on when I need a little extra help, so I am being filled with truth and good things. It is pretty much like a healthy brain washing session, to get me in the right headspace. Many times I will pause the video with tears in my eyes, in awe of the relevancy of the teaching that day.
When I’ve woken up a little more, I sometimes do this awesome gratitude thing, where I bring to mind and often write down everything that is right in my life. It’s like taking stock of my life, but only focusing on the good things. Things like “Oh my gosh I am 100% healthy and nobody close to me is dying and there is heat in my home and leftover chinese in my fridge, I have it crazy good.” See if you can surprise yourself with how detailed you can be.
Journaling the Day Ahead
One of my favorite daily practices is this exercise: I think of the day ahead and write down (actually, type out) everything that is going to completely *suck* about the day. I have those thoughts lurking in the back of my head anyway, suspicions that today might be the worst day of my life, so I find getting them out of my head and written out is so incredibly helpful to me. I write down things like “Our band meeting will drag on forever and I’ll get frustrated when I try to bring up the set list changes and the guys won't want to do the extra work” or “I haven’t done laundry in a week and I have nothing I like to wear today” or “I have to do that conference call and I know I haven’t prepped for it like I should have and it’s gonna be awkward and suck.” This helps me recognize subconscious areas of tension and fear in my day. Also, when I write things down, I realize how ridiculous they sound, especially in light of all I have to be grateful for. So I always, without exception, follow this list up with its counterpart: Every reason why today is going to be amazing! This list is always longer, and so fun to write. Things like “It’s going to be sunny today and the snow is gonna melt! (I add obnoxious exclamation points to the end of these phrases to really drive the point home). My mom is coming over and we’re gonna drink tea and talk about nothing! I can’t wait to work on the new song I started last night! The band is buying lunch today!” What has been especially awesome about this is a lot of time I find myself taking neutral daily events and rewriting them as ultra positive things. Events that could fall in either category (I have to go grocery shopping today) can turn into “I am so excited to go to the store, I am going to listen to that new album on the way there, and I can’t wait to get all this amazing produce to make smoothies with, and I am most definitely getting chocolate chips so I can bake tonight!”
Visualize the Day
After I’ve written my bad/good list detailing the day, I’m in a perfect position to visualize it. “Visualize” is the grown up yoga word for “use your imagination”. I close my eyes and intentionally imagine myself in every situation that I know I will be in that day. And in each situation, I pause and picture how I’m interacting (kindly, gently), and how I’m feeling (vibrant, present) in that moment. This is so helpful to me. As an example, let’s say I am playing a big show that night and I know I’ll have the opportunity to be met with some anxiety in the hours leading up to our performance. Instead, I picture myself at the venue, calm and full of joy to be there. I picture myself side-stage about to go on, bursting with confidence and light ready to be shared. I picture myself on stage pleasantly surprising myself with how good I feel, and lastly I picture myself after the show feeling accomplished and grateful. This creates a killer mental picture for my subconscious hard drive about what I want to have happen today, as far as I can control it. It is awesome.
And lastly, when I go to bed at night I like to intentionally allow myself to feel satisfied with the day. I have a habit of running a mental checklist of everything I didn’t get done, or screwed up on that day, and that’s a horrible state of mind to be in while ending my day. I fight that by taking a few seconds to go over everything good that happened that day, everything I am grateful for, and I feel satisfied with myself and my life, regardless of my circumstances.
So, that’s where I’m at in this point in my life. Do you have any killer ideas for me? I shared mine, so feel free to share your's darling! I am always in the mood to be inspired.
Much love, Ariel