How One Simple Change can Change Everything
By: Adam Katzen
October 27, 2017
Neuroscience has shown there is a small window in your day that you can reprogram your brain, reshape your life and unlock new possibilities. It’s the same time for every human being.
Focusing your mind, intention and energy during this twenty minute period can help you form deeper, more meaningful relationships, reduce anxiety and stress, generate more abundance and create lasting success, joy and serenity.
I’m going to tell you exactly when it is, and how to take full advantage of it. First let me explain why it’s so important.
Now, I am not what you would call a “morning person”.
Perhaps you jump out of bed, bright eyed and bushy tailed… excited to meet the day. Not my experience. People like you should probably stay far away from people like me in the morning.
My mind is not generating happy thoughts first thing. I want to hit the snooze alarm and go back to bed.
I don’t want to see or talk to anyone or do anything. My body feels heavy and stiff and I immediately start thinking about all the things I have to do that day.
If I don’t take action right away, this can become a general disposition and have real consequences when it comes to the results I get – or don’t get – that day. It happened a couple weeks ago.
I had gone to bed late and didn’t get enough sleep. I woke up tired and groggy. I played about 82 hours of volleyball the day before (at least that’s what it felt like), tweaked my back and was in pain.
I had a million things to do and before I knew what was happening the stress took control and bamboozled me into skipping my typical morning routine.
Now, usually I spend five minutes scanning my body to create some equanimity around how I’m feeling. This puts me in a neutral state. After that I meditate for 20 or 30 minutes, then begin working.
Not this day.
Instead, I trudged wearily over to the Keurig to make coffee. To my horror, the water reservoir was empty! EMPTY! I mean, can you imagine… I had to refill the water in the Keurig! Certainly the universe was conspiring against me.
Have you ever turned some tiny inconvenience like that into a full blown natural disaster?
Alas, I filled the reservoir, made some coffee, jumped in the shower, got dressed and headed to a meeting. The meeting was horrible.
Leaving my clients office, I backed my car out of the parking spot straight into a truck behind me. I’ll spare you the details, but my day continued to digress from there.
Have you ever had one of those?
A couple days later I read an article that – at the risk of hyperbole – kind of changed my life. It was about brain chemistry, and it inspired me to completely rethink my morning routine.
Here’s what I learned.
The first twenty minutes of your day are critically important. They will literally dictate how your brain works all day.
In that first 20min your brain is working differently than it will for the rest of the day. That’s because neurons in your brain are firing more slowly in this period.
See, neurons in your brain constantly produce electrical signals. These signals are measured as waves.
When you first wake up your brain is kind of booting up. Its operating at about 10.5 waves per second, or 8-13Hz (cycles). This is known as an Alpha state.
After about twenty minutes your brain is fully booted and operating in a Beta state. That’s 13-30Hz. There are five states for brain wave activity, Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, Gamma.
An Alpha state is the optimal range for visualization, mind programming and creativity. At this frequency, you are conscious of your surroundings but your body is in deep state of relaxation. What you see, hear, smell, feel… leaves a much deeper imprint and has a more significant effect.
During an Alpha state there is an increase in oxygen and blood flowing to your brain. That means enhanced mental and physical performance.
Even better, a variety of research led by Jose Silva has demonstrated that when you are in an Alpha state you are actually able to reprogram your brain.
And if that’s not enough, Dr. Margaret Patterson of the Marie Curie Cancer Foundation Research Group, conducted a study and found that accessing Alpha Waves increase production of serotonin, which makes you feel happy, relaxed and reduces pain. Alpha waves also boosted the production of catecholamines which are vital to memory and learning.
So it’s pretty clear that you’ve got a huge opportunity when operating in an Alpha state. Now how do you take advantage of this crucial twenty minute window?
The Morning Routine that Changed my Life
After I read that article I decided to change my morning routine. It completely changed my life.
As soon as I wake up I spend five minutes bringing mindful awareness to my breath and body. This prevents my mind from running away with all the things I have to do that day.
I try to notice if my breath is deep or shallow, if I wake up on an inhale or exhale. I take note of what’s going on in my body, doing a body scan and noting how I feel, where there is tension…
It’s important to note that I do this as a curious inquiry. There are no judgments or assessments around how I feel, I’m just present with the experience. Theoretically, at least…
For the next 10 minutes I listen to and speak positive affirmations. Now, I’m not really an “affirmations” kind of guy but in an Alpha state they leave a much deeper imprint and begin to reprogram how you think. I decided to give it a shot.
I listen to different affirmations each morning, depending on what I feel I need. After the affirmations I meditate for about 20 minutes. Finally, I set a specific, demonstrable intention for the day. I write it down to make it real. Then I go to work.
I can’t begin to tell you how powerful this routine has been for me.
I’m happier, less stressed, feel more connected to other people… and I’ve even had some major business successes since I began. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I think there’s a correlation.
Yes, it’s 35 minutes. And I know you have things to do. But I can safely say there’s a significant return on that investment.
I’m more productive, focused, calm and serene all day. New opportunities and connections seem to come every day. I know that sounds like a corny infomercial, but I’m being serious. I’ve had some crazy, positive thing happen almost everyday for the past 10 days or so.
While I had to make the decision to wake up 20min earlier, the dividends are more than worth it. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.
I challenge you to try this for one week. Just seven days. You can do anything for 7 days. You can even modify it if you want. Start with something you can commit to. Maybe it’s:
- Wake up
- Body and breath check in (3min)
- Affirmations (6min)
- Meditation (8min)
- Set intention for the day
That’s 17 minute investment for an incredible new life. I don’t know about you, but I like the cost benefit analysis.
There are ways to access an Alpha state outside of waking up. Meditation and Breathwork are two of them. We have Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism every Monday, Breathwork and Reiki every other Thursday and a Inner Journeys Meditation each month. Reserve your spot today by calling (561) 450-6407
Adam leads our Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism class Mondays at 7pm. He’s a highly meditated spiritual gangster with a debilitating penchant for making the world a better place. He runs the non profit Dharma Project. Word on the street is he also helps grow businesses, build organizational cultures of inspiration and trust and coaches executives on mindful leadership. To get in touch you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.