While I was preparing for a conference last year, the host called me to offer some sound advice: "Give them something simple enough that they can write it down on a sticky note." I was doing a presentation on ways to enhance your creativity and sense of vitality, so, with her suggestion in mind, I paused to ask myself: "What are the three daily ingredients that I find essential to maintaining my own creative output and personal wellbeing?"
I took out a sticky note and wrote down the answer: The 3Ms
After over 25 years as a creative professional -- as well as a student, practitioner and teacher of yoga and other wellness and mindfulness practices -- I have discovered my own secret blend: If I simply start my day with the 3Ms (Music, Movement and Meditation), I increase my capacity for joy, balance, compassion and creativity.
I guarantee, if you greet the morning by giving a little bit of your time and attention to each of the 3Ms, you too will feel a greater sense of balance and wellbeing throughout the day. Over time, you will be happier, maintain better health, and open up channels to greater creativity.
M1: Why Music?
The sound vibrations from music affect our bodies at a deep cellular level and activate more areas of the human brain than any other known activity. By starting each day with the right music, we can help reset our mental, physical and emotional state. You could think of it as a megavitamin. Music has the unique ability to transcend our thinking mind and affect us in profound ways, without us even knowing it's happening.
Try singing a song you love, spending a few minutes playing an instrument, listening deeply to a favorite piece of music, creating a morning playlist that lifts and inspires you, or even changing your jarring alarm to a soothing piece of music that helps you gracefully transition into a more conscious state.
M2: What Kind of Movement?
Do whatever it is that personally inspires and invigorates you; just get up and move. I might do some yoga postures one day, go for a walk on the beach another, or take a quick run around the park when I have less time. Stretch it, shake it, pump it, jump it; dance, run, swim or spin... As the great late James Brown taught us: "Get up offa that thang!"
We spend way too much time sitting, so we need to offset the compression, congestion and stagnation that modern life creates in our systems. Even a few minutes of daily physical exercise can help get your heart pumping, activate your respiratory system, improve your circulation, aid in digestion, and help eliminate built up tension that gets trapped in your body and could otherwise lead to further stress and disease.
Whatever form of movement you choose, approach it with childlike wonder and enthusiasm. Imagine each inhale as a gift that can transform your life for the better. The long-term rewards of being physically active can be profound. Some of the more immediate payoffs include improving our mood, reducing anxiety, and giving us greater mental clarity.
M3: Meditate or Medicate?
Meditation and Mindfulness seem to be the trending buzzwords for wellbeing these days. Some say meditation is the "new yoga". My hope is that meditation becomes the new medication - one with no negative side effects.
While some people may be comfortable with the idea of meditation, or already have a personal practice, many find the whole concept to be foreign and even intimidating. If you fall in the latter group, don't worry. Worrying about meditation, or wondering if you are doing it right or wrong, is completely counter to its purpose. It may require a little reframing or renaming, and even a few attempts on your part, for you find your way.
The key is to take an intentional pause from the habitual routines, stresses, and over-stimulation of daily life; and to consciously spend that time breathing deeply, letting go of your worries, relaxing your mind, releasing the tensions in your body, and allowing your system to recalibrate, realign and come back into balance. Whether you listen to music or count your breaths, sit cross-legged on the floor or upright in a chair, keep your eyes open or closed, or even add slow focused movements like Thai Chi - the specific technique is far less important than deeply connecting to the process you choose and moving beyond the limitations of your thinking mind.
There are lots of resources to get you started, ranging from a personal guru or classes at your local yoga studio, to online courses, beginner meditation books, or YouTube videos of some of the more knowledgeable teachers. Have fun; explore and trust what works best for you. It may help to start with shorter meditations. Even 10 to 15 minutes a day can make a world of difference.
There are many documented and scientifically proven benefits of meditation. They include reducing blood pressure, lowering the risk of heart attack or stroke, decreasing stress and anxiety, improving memory and awareness, and increasing our capacity for joy and gratitude.
Putting it All Together:
Give the magic combo a try. Write 3M's on a sticky note and place it on your bathroom mirror or somewhere you will see it to remind you. If you are really tight on time, or want to experiment, try mixing and matching the ingredients:
- Listen to music while you move, dance or run.
- Meditate while you chant, sing or listen to soothing music.
- Bring more mindfulness and conscious breath to your movement.
By adding these essential ingredients into your daily routine, you will set your mind, body and spirit on a path lined with greater vitality, happiness and creativity. Try the 3Ms for 30 days and see how it transforms your relationship with the world around you.
If you would like to experience this blog complete with images, you may do so by viewing it on the EarthTones website.
For more by Frank Fitzpatrick, click here.