Once the day swings into action it’s oh so easy to be overwhelmed by the routine, the urgent (as distinct from the important), the latest minor crisis or, most prevalent of all, unproductive thought. And even though you may have started your day properly, it is all too easy to become submerged and go back to our default state of unfocused mindlessness.

So, for a start, what does starting your day properly mean? Well, none of us leave the house physically unprepared for the day ahead. We wash and dress ourselves – shaving or applying the odd dab of make-up as appropriate! However, we unwittingly leave the house in the morning mentally unprepared for what lies in store. Starting the day properly means ensuring that, before you leave the house, you’ve taken the appropriate step or steps to clear the mind and focus your energy. I suggest approximately ten minutes mental preparation for the day ahead. Find somewhere quiet to sit and focus on your five senses – one sense at a time. This ensures that you’re focused on what is really going on as distinct from the subconscious programs that otherwise run your life – those programs being your default state of mind.

OK, let’s say that you’ve got your day off to the perfect start, you’re tuned in, focused, mentally wide awake and ready for action. Little things like a delayed train, like getting stuck in traffic, like somebody asking you for something unexpectedly – so many little things can rough us up. And we haven’t even mentioned the big things! It is so easy to slip and slide automatically into mental oblivion as the day unfolds. What we’ve got to do is make sure that, during our day, we pause to catch our breath – literally.

Ancient wisdom emhpasizes the opportunity that our breathing affords us to clear our mind of useless noise and distraction and, in doing so, focus the energy. So, here’s an easy, quick and very practical tip – because, after all, you have to breathe anyway! Take a couple of moments – moments is all that’s required – at various points during the day to pay attention to the reality of your existence as you inhale and exhale. Pay attention to what it feels like to breathe, how your body responds with each breath in and out, how the air passes through the right, left or both nostrils. Give thanks for the reality that you are alive and breathing. Pay attention to nothing else for these few moments. If the worries or useless thoughts of the moment start invading your mind, take three deeper breaths to refocus your attention. As you breathe, understand that whatever might be doing your head in right now will be completely forgotten in months, weeks, days or even hours. Realize that, with an alert, focused and ready mind, anything is possible.

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