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As an anxious person, I don’t do well with lack of control. With seemingly no end to this pandemic and no idea when or if we’ll ever be able to travel again, I’ve had to develop a routine to save my sanity.
I found out about this morning routine from Chautauquan friends back in October, last year, when we travelled with them to Ireland.
“You’ve never heard of Miracle Morning?” Dan asked, incredulous.
Ugh. It’s one of those woo-woo “think yourself happy” mantras, I thought to myself. No thanks.
As a logical person, anything with the words “miracle”, “secret” and “spiritual transformation” makes me want to vomit with the force of a thousand waterfalls.
But because I trust Chautauquans (why else would I have agreed to fly out to England in the dead of winter, just for a reunion a few years back), I decided to at least give it a shot. What have I got to lose? Except maybe an extra hour of sleep.
So, I found out that day that Miracle Morning is a routine developed by Hal Elrod, an ultra-marathon runner and a hall of fame business achiever who cheated death twice by surviving a nearly fatal car accident and cancer.
He developed this system of how to rewire your brain and body for success and it consists of 6 steps:
S.A.V.E.R.S (you can’t afford not to like this acronym) which is stands for:
S = Silence
A = Affirmation
V = Visualization
E = Exercise
R = Reading
S = Scribing
Silence means meditation, Affirmation means repeating a positive mantra in your head, Visualization means picturing your perfect day, Exercise is some light exercise early in the morning to get the blood flowing, Reading means reading non-fiction (usually something related to meditation or self-help) and Scribing means journaling and writing down your thoughts.
You’re supposed to do these 6 steps every morning by getting up one hour earlier than you normally do (obviously much easier for retirees, like us, who normally get up at the crack of noon. Not so easy for parents with young kids who wake up at 6am).
Since our friends were living with us that week and had the Headspace app, we decided to start our mornings with a 10-min guided meditation, the “Silence” part of Miracle Morning. This was my introduction to the whole mindfulness practice.
I can’t say that session changed my life, because it didn’t. One session of anything generally can’t. Just like exercise, you can’t expect to have 6 pack abs or toned arms in only 10 short mins. Unless you have insanely efficient metabolism like Wanderer, who can drink 6 beers every night and never gain a pound. In which case, I hate you and your stupid crazy metabolism.
Anyway, I digress.
Even though it didn’t make my anxiety disappear, that one session opened the door for me to start learning about meditation. I started to realize, sitting silently, clearing your thoughts isn’t woo-woo. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven to improve mental health.
Once we flew back to Canada and got stuck in the same place for four months, that miracle morning routine turned out to be a lifesaver.
As it turns out, when a control freak like me has everything taken out of my hands, a routine is exactly what’s needed to manage my anxiety.
Every morning, I get up and go through these steps:
Silence (10 mins):
Listen to a guided meditation on Insight Timer, a free app with 45,000 meditations. Today, it’s day 7 of the 30 day course “Unlock Your Wise & Mindful Brain” with neuroscientist Dr. Karolien Notebaert.
If you’re using Insight Timer for the first time, I recommend starting with the “Learn How to Meditate in Seven Days” free course.
Exercise (10 mins):
I follow the Monthly Yoga challenge from Kassandra on Youtube. It’s free to sign-up and I love how she goes through a quick 10 min session a day for 30 days. Plus, it’s a series, so you’ll be motivated to continue coming back to for 30 days.
Reading (10 pages):
I’ve read so many good meditation books as a result of this. Here are my top recommendations (for logical skeptics like me):
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works: A True Story
(Note: the above links are affiliate links and I will get a small commission if you choose to buy these books. If you choose to get them from the library, that’s fine too. I really don’t care where you get them from as long as you read them).
Optional: Journaling (10 mins):
I write down my unfiltered thoughts into a notebook whenever I get looping thoughts. On the surface, this seems somewhat boring and pointless, but overtime, I’ve found that getting your thoughts down on paper and out of your brain helps you meditate better.
After a month of doing this, I found myself (shockingly!) looking forward to my morning self-healing routine. Not only that, I am a lot calmer and less reactive to stressors (like annoying people or bad traffic).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a zen’d out Buddhist monk yet. There is still the occasional flare up, and anxiety still wakes me up from time to time, but the trick is that I now no longer blame myself for getting anxious. I simply accept and acknowledge it. Instead of ruminating or projecting into the future (or medicating with anti-anxiety pills like I used to), I meditate to stop the looping thoughts and exercise to get out of my head.
And since this has helped me so much, I’ve started a meditation pact with my friends where we text each other a “meditation emoji” daily to show that we meditated, so we can keep each other accountable. We also send each other high fives and words of encouragement whenever any of us meditate and share any insights we have.
And guess what? In my meditation research, I found that a study from UCLA discovered that people who’ve been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter than non-meditators. And since a higher volume grey matter is associate with higher IQ, we are literally getting smarter by the day as we meditate. Cool huh?
What do you think? Have you developed any routines to help you cope during this time of uncertainty? Have you ever tried Miracle Morning?
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