How do you start your day? Many people wake up and take a look at their smartphone. They check email and social media, then roll out of bed and start the coffee brewing. Perhaps they have a high-sugar cereal or a sweet roll for breakfast while watching television. By the time they shower, dress and head out for work, they have squandered a lot of their energy reserves and capacity for focus.
Mark Divine, a former navy SEAL commander and bestselling author, believes their is a better way. He says if you got adequate sleep the night before, you wake up with your frontal cortex “fully charged with willpower.” How well you manage to put that willpower to use in your life depends on the actions you take the first 30 minutes of the morning.
Divine, who retired from the Navy in 2009, now heads SEALFIT, a California company that offers state-of-the-art mind-body training programs. He recommends a routine he developed in 2004, when he was serving in Iraq. Every day he needed to access peak performance skills to survive and accomplish his wartime mission. The routine includes six steps.
1. Find a calm space.
Immediately upon waking up, go to a private space, where you can relax into a space of sacred silence. It is best if your space is separate from the room where you sleep, but any quiet, private area will do.
2. Hydrate to fuel your body.
Drink a glass of fresh filtered water.
3. Take just a few minutes to reflect.
Do a review of the circumstances in your life for which you are grateful. Note them in your journal. Divine recommends these questions for reflection.
What and for whom am I grateful for?
What am I excited about and looking forward to doing today?
What is my purpose and do my plans for today connect me to it?
Who can I reach out to and serve, or thank, today?
4. Focus on your breathing for at least five minutes.
Mr. Divine recommends a technique he calls box breathing, a discipline he teaches at SEALFIT Academy. This is a method of deep diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale for a count of five. Hold the breath for a count of five, exhale for another count of five, and then hold your breath again for the same length of time.
5. Mindfully move your body.
This can consist of a few sun salutations, moving in concert with your breath, or going on a brisk walk while maintaining an internal focus.
6. Close the session by “dirt diving” your day.
After reviewing your plan for the day and making any needed adjustments, visualize yourself taking each of the major actions on your agenda, dominating each. Prepare your mind for the win.
Now that you’ve done your mental preparation, have a healthy, protein-rich breakfast. If your schedule allows, follow up with a visit to the gym, a walk or a jog.
This morning ritual can be completed in under half an hour. If you have time, Divine recommends you expand your yoga practice or exercise time. Even five or ten minutes, however, will be life-changing.