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Weekly Practice in Conscious Living

Week 625: Setting the Tone for Your Day

Walking across Central Park the other day, I thought about an interview I listened to as I got ready to move into the day. Generally, I spend the morning carrying my laptop computer around with me, as I watch or listen to inspiring interviews I find on youtube and other websites. It’s a habit I began a number of years ago after I realized how stressed I felt after listening to the morning news. When I decided not to do that anymore, I noticed that the quality and tone of my morning, and then the day, was powerfully impacted by the quality and tone of what I “fed” myself psychologically as I began each day.

This got me to thinking even more about frequencies, qualities, and the themes with which we resonate as we go out into the world. It’s like having a particular filter inplace, a filter that receives, interprets, and responds to whatever we may encounter along the way. That might encompass an external experience—an interaction with someone else, or it may be an internal experience—the arising of a thought or a feeling. It’s as though what I fill myself with first thing in the morning sets a tone that travels with me throughout the day.

Beginning with something that is inspiring, or deeply interesting to me, sets what I now understand is a stance of curiosity, engagement, and movement “toward” life as I begineach day. When I used to listen to the news, I moved into a stance where tension and an underlying sense of stress would take up residence in the foreground of my awareness and responses. This doesn’t mean that I don’t stay uninformed, but I let myself know what’s going on in the world in smaller doses and definitely not at the beginning of the day.

For this week’s experiment, I invite you to notice what tone you set as you begin your day. Where do you place your attention as you move into wakefulness? What do youtake in as the nourishment you offer yourself once you’re awake? These seem like automatic, non-essential issues but they in fact are like tuning yourself to a particular channel or station. They set the tone for your day, setting up a resonance with the quality of what you take in.

As part of the experiment, notice what happens if you play with different kinds of input first thing in your day. For example, on a day when you start out listening to the news,check out how you feel going out the door to enter the world. Are you relaxed and open or tense, with an underlying sense of worry? Do you feel expansive or constricted? Are you curious or fearful? If you begin your day with an intention to feel into the essence of kindness or compassion, how does that impact the quality of your experience as you go out into the world? If you begin the day engaged in learning something you really enjoy, what qualities does that activity add to your sense of your world as you move into daily activities?

As with all these experiments, there’s no right answer to any of the above questions. They are, instead, invitations to notice differences, to become even more aware of thepower of your moment-to-moment choices about where you focus your attention and what you take in as you move through daily life. Remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion, as it allows you to open to awareness rather than to shy away from it. And, as judgments arise, be sure to make room for them to simply move through and move on without any additional input from you.

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