Arash Afshar

Photographer, Host of Burner Podcast and Founder of Justified Hype

Morning Quarantine Routine

8:13 AM: I wake up naturally to sunlight peaking in through my windows.

I bask in all the lovely things my mind can think of as quickly as possible, expressing verbally my appreciation for things as simple as my pillow, the softness of my sheets, the weather in San Diego and the beautiful art hanging on my wall. That might lead me to thinking of how much I love and appreciate my roommate, Dylan, for creating said art. Which leads me to think of all the amazing people in my life who love and support me. I let my mind run wild with all the dopeness that is my life.

A thought is a like a fractal. One fractal attracts another fractal/thought. Multiple thoughts attract each other to become an idea. Ideas attract more ideas which form collections of ideas. Collections of ideas mix together to become an idea system. A collection of ideas we think over and over become a belief.

Multiple beliefs come together to become belief systems. And so on and so on until we have our reality. That’s the basis of Law of Attraction, really. It’s not magic.

Anyway, that’s the very first thing I do when I’m drifting into the most current waking reality: focus on the little things I appreciate and allow them to attract more and more complex positive ideas and thoughts to populate my reality.

8:23 AM: Get out of bed, walk out of room and pet Savvy on my way to restroom. She sits outside my door every morning waiting to say hi.

8:25 AM: Back in room and close door. Grab the so-soft-I-just-can’t-even robe hanging on my door that my mom got me a few years back for my birthday and sit on the floor next to my bed for meditation.

I like to sit in traditional seated pose simply because that’s the way I’ve been doing it since I first began my Mindfulness Meditation practice in my 20s.

I clear my mind and like to let my ears focus on the sound of the traffic in the distant freeway which I can hear from my window. Because it sounds like nothing at all really. The constant and consistent sound of the cars in regular motion in the far distance doesn’t trigger a story in my head, it’s just white noise. If there happen to be other noises happening that are taking my mind off the white noise of the freeway (like if there has been an accident and cars and helicopters are flying around and creating a narrative in my head) I’ll grab my Beats by Dre wireless headphones which my nephew got me as a birthday gift a couple years ago and listen listen to the Binaural Beats app on my phone.

This week my brain’s felt pretty clear. A couple of weeks ago, the spectacular musical score of Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Henry Jackman had been stuck in my head for two solid weeks. So every morning, during my 15 minutes on the floor next to my bed, the end credits theme would play in my head on repeat, which lead me to chuckle to myself at every time someone had told me that they can’t meditate, believing that meditation is a thing you’re either good at or not good at. I’ve been enjoying the explanation that the brain is a muscle. Every time something attempts to take our attention and we consciously bring it back to our center, it’s like curling with a handheld weight. It’s not that those who meditate can simply clear their minds at the snap of a finger, it’s that we’ve learned to not beat ourselves up for noticing that we’ve been distracted. In mediation, we sit and do that over and over and each time we do it, it’s like doing a curl and feeling the biceps of our brains getting stronger.

8:43 AM: Open my eyes, stretch and standup to make my bed. Used to hate that my mom made me do this as a child but I do it every morning, no matter what the rest of the room or my day looks like. It’s the first action of the day that communicates that I’m the captain of my soul to the universe, inward and out. I might play a random 15 minute Abraham Hicks talk on YouTube while doing this.

8:47 AM: Put on fresh clean clothes and walk downstairs. Chances are my roommate already made a pot of coffee so I pour a cup in my favorite mug, a takeaway gift from my buddy’s camping wedding.

I press play on either the Spotify’s Chilled Jazz or my own My Ticket to See the World playlist.

Also, I press play on my Coffitivity coffee shop ambient noise app. Coffitivity is a website I found when I worked in the office and wanted to tune the rest of the office out and put myself in a more creative setting. I started using it again when COVID-19 shoo shoo’d us all indoors. It’s nice because I’ve been joking forever that the only reason I travel is so I can find new coffee shops around the world from which I can work on my laptop.

8:49 AM: I sit in the chair by the window with my two journals.

My larger journal is predominantly for alignment and pre-paving work which I best describe as the mental and emotional equivalent to stretching before a run. The smaller journal is for organizing ideas and thoughts. I fill a full either one or two pages in my alignment journal first. My intuition decides what about. One day it might be visualization, another might be lists of positive aspects on some subject or I might simply do a brain dump, unclogging the subconscious pipes. While I do this, I often get flashes of inspiration about things I’m working on and jot those in the smaller journal. This saves me massive efforts because, instead of sitting at the laptop trying to push a solution through on something, I’ll just chill and the clarity flows right in. Ideas will manifest out of thin air on how to lay out a certain project on note cards in a very particular way, for example, which ends up executing a particular task in 10 minutes instead of two hours.

9:14 AM: I can feel my energy shifting from analog. I’m ready to engage in active creation (what I used to call ‘work’).

9:16 AM: I take my phone off Airplane Mode, which it has been on since I went to bed last night.

What a twist!

Yes, the inspiration behind naming this entry came from living in a COVID-19 world but this has, more or less, been my morning routine for a while now. The only big difference being that I used to sprint out of the house at 5am after meditation. I really dug seeing the sunrise and doing my morning journaling at a coffee shop but humans are nothing if not adaptive.

I’m so thankful I learned the value of a daily energetic quarantine practice before the age of COVID-19 began.

I began dipping my toes in these habits as a result of reading about how much we scramble our brains’ from diving right into our phones first thing in the morning. I could feel that there was more friction in my energy during my morning meditation when I’d wake up to see, for example, a voicemail or a text from my dad or a collaborator. That alert triggered the monkey mind to start filling in the gaps in information. My brain would get excited about solving a new mystery to it started sprinting all over the place in an effort to predict the why’s and who’s and where’s those alerts might lead to. So I started to wait before looking at my phone. Eventually I went ahead and started utilizing my phone’s Airplane Mode more often. I read about a study which suggested our attention can be distracted by the simple presence of a phone in our vicinity, even when we do that polite thing where we put the phone down right in front of us but make it a point to place it facedown, as if to really hammer it in that we’re being super duper present. So if I’m not actively awaiting a message, I’ll put it on Airplane Mode when I’m hanging out with a friend. I’ve found that I do feel more of a sense of calm, even if my solution is questionable in it’s scientific accuracy.

Anyway, I plan to fully continue my Morning Quarantine Routine regardless of where and when I am on the planet. Long before COVID-19, we’ve had mental viruses affecting our daily experiences. Ones which no mask or vaccine can protect us from. The symptoms from which, like many mental illnesses, we can’t pinpoint until we’re knee deep in ‘em. I believe that this little morning routine has helped inoculate me from many of them.

I’m looking forward to photographing some more sunrises in the near future. Digging through my archives for this post, I noticed I may have lost many of them when I shifted hard drives. Might be a new future project. Perhaps with my phone still in Airplane Mode.

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