Lifestyle, Mental Health

Awaken the Mind, Don’t Just Wake up!

awaken-the-mind-dont-just-wake-up

Morning is a sacred time which decides how our day will unfold. What we do in the morning decides how we will sail through the day. It helps us set a strong foundation for the rest of the day. The one thing almost each one of us do as soon as we open our eyes on waking up is to check our phones.This is how our mind is trained. It is a subconscious decision. Checking the phone on waking up is a habit we have developed over the years. We have to realize that this is not a need but merely a habit. And it’s up-to us to change it. So, what happens when we check our phone soon after waking up-

The brain has billions of neurons, and each individual neuron connects to a thousand others. Communication happens between them through small electrical currents that travel along the neurons & throughout enormous networks of brain circuits. When all these neurons are activated they produce electrical pulses. This synchronized activity results in a brainwave.

Our brain has 4 primary states based on brain waves-

  1. Beta state is when we are awake

State- alert, normal consciousness, active thinking, problem solving

  1. Delta state is when we are fast asleep

State- Sleeping, dreaming

In between these two state are theta & alpha

  1. Theta is when you are right in & out of sleep

State- creativity, insight, dreams, reduced consciousness, day-dreaming

Just above theta is the state called Alpha. Below this is where you are almost awake.

State-  physically & mentally relaxed

  1. Alpha state is a state of accelerated learning. It is state of relaxed awareness.

Alpha state is used as a universal sign of relaxation during meditation & other types of rest. This is the state we go to when we meditate, when the critical mind is set aside & we absorb information unconsciously. Since we are in an alpha state 1stthing in the morning we are very suggestible.

Any suggestion we make to our self (affirmations or thoughts- positive or negative) are taken up and imprinted by our brain.When we check the phone 1stthing in the morning we end up rewiring the brain for 2 things that reduce productivity, performance and affects how we feel and behave all day long.

Number 1- It is training us to be highly distracted. Every notification on the phone is making us pay attention to a 100 things at a time. We get a dopamine fix while our nervous system goes into an over-drive with every like, share, comment that we see. This is why when we are having a conversation with another person, we are unable to focus because our mind is re-wired & trained to be distracted.

Number 2- It is training the mind to be reactive.We wake up with a highly relaxed state of awareness. We see one bad news, one angry text message, one email that stresses us & we are in a bad mood for the rest of the day. We are very impressionable & almost in a hypnotic state on waking up. We can’t be in control of our day when we are reacting to every situation around us. Our Brain is a super-computer that controls everything that goes on inside our body. Our mind controls everything. We need to set up the environment around us to change & to make the behavior stick. That’s why mindfulness is so important. It is a mental exercise. Like every other muscle in our body, we build the brain muscle with mindfulness. It increases cognitive ability & helps to bring back the mind when it gets distracted. It affects the memory. Set up a morning routine to set the intention of the day. Take charge of how the day goes.

The 3 M’s that one must follow as a part of the morning routine-

  • Mindfulness- This can be achieved through meditation, deep diaphragmatic breathing, 4-4-8 breathing technique, visualization. For 4-4-8 Breathing- Start inhaling for four counts. Make sure you fill your lungs completely to the point where you feel your abdomen is filled full of air like a balloon. Hold your breath for four counts then slowly exhale for eight counts.
  • Movement- This can include simple stretches, yogasana, running, tabata. Anything that gets you moving. When we are active in the morning, it helps us to boost our blood circulation. Movement helps to get the blood flowing smoothly into our arteries to provide oxygen (life-force) and nutrients to each and every cell of our body. It helps our mind & body to really wake up & releases endorphins or “happy hormones” making us more positive & ready to take on the day with a lot of energy.
  • Mindset- To be in a positive state of mind. You can achieve this by reading a book that you like in a relaxed manner, a nice cup of herbal tea or a regular cup of tea or coffee, repeating affirmations for 2 minutes, such as I am Happy, I am Calm, I am free of any stress.

It’s not just the morning routine that decides how you train the mind. But it is also important to avoid electronics for 1 hour in the night before sleeping. The blue light coming from the phone, TV or laptop reduces the melatonin production which helps us to relax & get good quality deep restorative sleep. Every night, make a list of at-least three important things you want to accomplish in a day. Make it a rule, to not check your phone till you get at-least 1 thing checked out of the list. Get a normal alarm clock, so you can keep your phone away, preferably out of your bedroom & are not tempted to check the phone as soon as you wake up & be bombarded with a myriad of information.

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Luke Coutinho

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