Hello family – I’m baaaaack!
In case you missed it, DL filled in for me last week while I was soaking up some sun and fun down in Cancun, Mexico.
What a wonderful experience – and the best part was because I didn’t have a drop of alcohol I remember the whole trip!
In fact, I hit my exact 3.5 year sobriety mark while on this trip.
It’s important to know that getting sober does NOT mean the end of fun.
No, it actually marked the BEGINNING of fun for me because I actually remember what I do these days and don’t have strangers looking at me in disgust (or more importantly, my girlfriend’s entire family!).
Yes, I know a vacation to Cancun seems like a huge, far off outing to many of our readers….but it goes to show just what exactly is possible if you keep doing the next indicated step and put your Recovery first.
I NEVER would have been in a situation that would allow me such an extravagant trip because my paycheck always went straight to the bottle and worse.
Just keep doing whatever it is that’s been making your Recovery work…and one day you will get to tell us about your amazing vacations and life experiences!
And now…back to our regular scheduled programming.
SETTING THE RIGHT TONE FOR YOUR ENTIRE DAY WITH A SIMPLE MORNING ROUTINE
They are a big deal in Recovery.
I didn’t have a regimented routine for the majority of my life, so at first having a routine was nothing more than a nuisance that I would feel bad about blowing off.
Then I started to see exactly why we do them.
For me it gets me out of my head, it gets me prepared for the day I am about to face, and most importantly it sets the tone for my day.
Fast forward to today - if I DON’T follow my morning routine I feel “off.”
I don’t feel grateful or excited as hell to face another day sober.
I don’t feel energetic and ready to tackle whatever I need to tackle.
I don’t feel focused and motivated.
By nature I am a procrastinator, so it’s VERY easy to put off my morning routine.
When I do so, I set myself up for failure because I am not setting the TONE for my day.
I quickly forget that how you start your day sets the tone for the day so I hit my snooze button a few too many times and start my day way behind schedule.
That is not a great way to start my day – in fact it is a crummy way to start my day (but I am still waking up versus simply coming to which is a huge distinction!).
In a perfect world I want my day to go a certain way each and every day.
Does it ever?
But I can give myself an advantage and start my day off on the right foot with how I want it to go versus playing catch up from the very start.
When I don’t follow a routine I feel sluggish both physically and mentally, and more often than not just go through the motions versus accomplishing everything I set out to do earlier that day.
When I do follow a routine, I feel motivated and confident.
I encourage everyone to form a morning routine.
A routine should be totally comprehensive.
What do I mean by that?
I blend recovery and fitness into my morning routine to wake up to a can of “kick ass” mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
My current morning routine goes like this:
1) ALARM GOES OFF & I GET UP…NO “SNOOZE”….I GET UP
a. I set the tone for the day that I am not going to procrastinate by hitting the “snooze” button
b. This has made a huge difference for me in resisting the urge to simply lazily go back to sleep while demonstrating to myself that I am ready to attack the day.
2) START BREWING MY COFFEE
a. I set the tone that I want to be alert and focused all day yet NOT spend excess money at a coffee shop because I’m too lazy to brew my own
b. While my coffee is brewing I make sure I drink at least 24 ounces of water to jump start my re-hydration process since I just went 6-8 hours without a drop of water while sleeping.
3) READ MY MORNING REFLECTION BOOK & SAY MY THIRD STEP PRAYER
a. I set the tone that I am working on my recovery each and every day and that nothing else comes first
4) I PERFORM 15-30 MINUTES OF FASTED CARDIO
a. I set the tone that I am making fitness a priority
b. I do my cardio fasted not because I think it “burns more fat,” but I seem to wake up quicker when doing so. I’ve found that if I avoid eating breakfast for the first 2-3 hours I am awake, I find myself sharper mentally, plus that allows me to eat bigger portions later in the day. It should be noted that in a 24 hour period there is ZERO difference between whether you do your cardio fasted or fed in regards to fat metabolism, so do what works best for you and your schedule
c. Remember, everyone will have a different fitness routine based on their goals and their fitness plans so this is what works for me.
d. One thing I’ve started adding to this is listening to binaural beats during the last 10 minutes or so in an attempt to enhance my mental awareness through mediation (more information on that below)
5) WHEN I HAD A CORPORATE JOB I WOULD PUT MY LUNCH TOGETHER THAT I HAD PREPARED THE NIGHT BEFORE
a. I set the tone that I am going to eat healthy and control my portion sizes versus spending way more money than necessary and possibly giving into to some less than ideal nutrition or way too large of a portion size (“I mean it’s only $2 more for almost twice as much food I would be wasting money if I don’t make it a large!”)
b. Here is an uncomfortable truth: If you can’t remember the last time you brought in your lunch for an entire work week, odds are you aren’t exactly thrilled with how you look physically (or even feel for that matter). Stop making excuses and simply prep your lunch the night before.
6) TODAY I READ A MOTIVATIONAL ARTICLE (I have 4 in rotation that I cycle through) THEN CREATE MY TO-DO LIST FOR THE DAY AND START WORKING ON IT IMMEDIATELY
a. I set the tone that I am going to be productive and when I write something down it dramatically increases the odds that I will accomplish it
That is my morning routine, and I strongly encourage you to find your own that blends all aspects of your health:
· CREATE A ROUTINE YOU CAN REALISTICALLY FOLLOW DAY IN & DAY OUT.
· MAKE SURE THIS ROUTINE EMPHASISES RECOVERY FIRST, FITNESS & NUTRITION SECOND.
· FOLLOW THIS ROUTINE FAITHFULLY & SET THE TONE FOR YOUR DAY, EACH & EVERY DAY.
You can never control how things go (hence the all-important phrase life on life’s terms), but you can start things off right.
Even if you have to wake up 20, 30, even 40 minutes earlier, doing so will pay off.
Today I never have a “bad day” – I have “bad moments” – and if I have enough “bad moments” to equal 24 hours, then I am just trying to feel sorry for myself and play the victim card.
But if I follow my routine, I start my day off right meaning it’s impossible to start the day with a “bad moment” and that’s already a huge advantage.
Where I come from, what I did in my past…I shouldn’t be alive let alone free from behind bars to pursue all I am working to accomplish.
Setting the tone reminds me of this – it keeps me present, it keeps me grateful, it keeps me sane.
So, the questions is…are you going to do the same?
BINAURAL BEATS INFORMATION
As I mentioned above, my new meditation routine has now started to include binaural beats.
What is a binaural beat?
They are two specific frequency tones (known as sine waves), which, when played into opposite ears create the illusionary effect that there is a third tone being played (that tone takes on the frequency difference between the actual two tones being played).
While these two tones must be close in frequency (less than 40 Hz difference), the different tones produce different effects in the brain and consciousness by creating a variety of binaural waves.
The most effective pairings have a difference less than 20 Hz difference, as human hearing can only hear a range of 20-20,000 Hz, therefore anything less than 20 Hz is inaudible and creates low frequency vibrations in the brain – this is what entrains our brain waves based on the frequency of the binaural tones.
Theta Waves (4-7 Hz) cause a dream-like state, provides feeling of relaxation, useful in improving memory, but can also assist in helping you fall asleep.
Delta Waves (5-40 Hz) are deeply relaxing to the point of inducing deep, dreamless sleep. There is much speculation as to what actually happens in the brain when delta waves are present.
Alpha Waves (8-13 Hz) help with focus, stress reduction, creativity, and relaxation.
Beta Waves (14-40 Hz) are used for high level learning however also involved in fight-or-flight stimulus, so it may be too stimulating for some people (personally I find them useful).
Gamma Waves (40-70 Hz) provide relaxation without causing drowsiness, improved emotional well-being, and improved focus.
HOW I USE BINAURAL BEATS FOR MEDITATION DURING CARDIO:
In the past, I would throw my headphones on and listen to my current favorite podcast as a way to “wake up” my brain and get my thought process going during my cardio session.
If I still feel a little “foggy” then that’s exactly what I do for 5-20 minutes depending upon how much time I have set aside for my morning cardio, ensuring I have at least 10 minutes set aside for binaural meditation.
Once that arbitrary podcast time limit is up, I find a Youtube video of the correct frequency binaural beat for whatever goal it is I want to accomplish and listen to this during my cardio (performing physical activity may throw off the ability to meditate for some people – for me it actually works better than sitting still).
NOTE: Some sites offer audio files for “purchase” but I don’t see the need to do this, especially if you are brand new to using binaural beats and not sure if this is something you are going to use as part of your meditation regiment – if you find you like them then I would understand wanting to purchase extremely high quality files.
NOTE: You MUST use headphones or when listening to binaural beats as the two frequencies must be played separately into either ear, plus the audio will not come out right if played on your phone or laptop.
Most days I use an alpha or beta wave binaural beat videos.
Some videos have only the sound of the two beats with no background sound (i.e. chimes or nature sounds) – “pure beat” is what the videos will include in the title – which can seem a little much when you first starting listening to beats for meditation.
NOTE: I will listen to “pure beat” videos while writing with the volume turned down very low as the background sound can be distracting. I’ve seemed to have cut down my writing time by a good 25% when using this technique.
While listening to these and performing my cardio (which in the morning is always walking either on my treadmill or outside with my weight vest on), I work on taking slow, deep, purposeful breaths.
I do my best to prevent my mind from wondering, some days I succeed, others I do not.
The key is to make sure you are listening to the correct audio – if I listen to a deep sleep video, or delta waves, I can find myself starting to get groggy which defeats the whole purpose.
So every day I do my best to set aside 10 minutes to attempt to meditate while listening to these videos (and yes, most days “attempt” is the key word).
When successful, I find myself more focused, creative, and present as I do my work.
I firmly believe that the longer I continue this practice the more benefit I will receive.
As you can see, binaural beats are a wonderful addition to any meditation you may perform (so long as you are not currently already using a follow along audio instructional program such as Headspace).
If you’ve experimented with binaural beats already, please be sure to share your experience in the comment section below.