As a fearful person, I can’t cope well with a lack of control. Since this pandemic seems to have no end and I have no idea when or if we can ever travel again, I had to develop a routine to save my mental health.
I learned about this morning routine from Chautauquan friends last October when we went to Ireland with them.
“You’ve never heard of Miracle Morning?” Dan asked incredulously.
Pooh. It’s one of those woo-woo mantras that make you feel happy. I figured. No thanks.
As a logical person, everything with the words “miracle”, “secret” and “spiritual transformation” makes me want to throw up with the power of a thousand waterfalls.
But because I trust Chautauquans (why would I otherwise have agreed to fly to England in the depths of winter, just for a reunion a few years ago), I decided to try at least once. What do I have to lose? Except maybe an extra hour of sleep.
So I found out that day Wonderful morning is a routine developed by Hal Elrod, an ultra-marathon runner and Hall of Fame achiever who has cheated death twice by surviving an almost fatal car accident and cancer.
He developed this system that allows you to rewire your brain and body for success. It consists of 6 steps:
SAVERS (you can’t afford not to like this acronym), which stands for:
S = silence
A = confirmation
V = visualization
E = exercise
R = read
S = writing
Silence means meditation, confirmation means repeating a positive mantra in your head. Visualization means imagining your perfect day. Exercise is a light early morning exercise to make the blood flow. Reading means reading non-fiction books (usually something related to meditation or self-help) and writing means recording and writing down your thoughts.
You should take these 6 steps every morning by getting up an hour earlier than usual (obviously much easier for pensioners like us, who usually get up around noon. Not so easy for parents with young children who wake up at 6 am).
Since our friends lived with us this week and had the headspace app, we decided to start our morning with a 10-minute guided meditation, the “silence” part of Miracle Morning. This was my introduction to the whole mindfulness practice.
I can’t say that this session changed my life because it wasn’t. A session of anything in general cannot. Just like with training, you can’t expect to have 6-packs or tight arms in just 10 minutes. Unless you have an insanely efficient metabolism like hikers who can drink 6 beers every night and never gain a pound. In that case, I hate you and your stupid crazy metabolism.
Anyway, I’m digressing.
Although my fear did not go away, this one session opened the door for me to learn about meditation. I realized that sitting still and clearing your thoughts is not a woo-woo. In fact, it has been scientifically proven to improve mental health.
After we flew back to Canada and were stuck in the same place for four months, this miraculous morning routine proved to be a lifesaver.
As it turns out, a routine is exactly what is needed to cope with my fear when everything is taken out of the hands of a control freak like me.
I get up every morning and go through the following steps:
Silence (10 minutes):
Listen to a guided meditation Insight timer, a free app with 45,000 meditations. Today is day 7 of the 30-day course “Unlock your wise and mindful brain” with the neuroscientist Dr. Carolina Notebaert.
If this is your first time using Insight Timer, I recommend using “Learn to meditate in seven daysFree course.
Exercise (10 minutes):
I follow the monthly yoga challenge from Kassandra on Youtube. Registration is free and I love how it goes through a short 10 minute session a day for 30 days. It is also a series so you are motivated to return for 30 days.
Reading (10 pages):
As a result, I have read so many good meditation books. Here are my top recommendations (for logical skeptics like me):
(Note: The links above are affiliate links, and I get a small commission when you buy these books. If you get them from the library, that’s fine too. I really don’t care where you get them from for so long you read it).
Optional: Journaling (10 minutes):
I write my unfiltered thoughts in a notebook when I get mind loops. On the surface, this seems a bit boring and pointless, but over time, I’ve found that if you put your thoughts on paper and out of your brain, it will help you meditate better.
After a month I was looking forward (shockingly!) To my morning self-healing routine. Not only that, I’m much calmer and less reactive to stress factors (like annoying people or bad traffic).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Buddhist monk yet. There is still the occasional flare up and the fear still wakes me up from time to time, but the trick is that I am no longer responsible for becoming anxious myself. I just accept and confirm it. Instead of thinking or projecting into the future (or treating with anti-anxiety pills as I did before), I meditate to stop and train the repetitive thoughts to get out of my head.
And since that helped me a lot, I made a meditation pact with my friends, in which we write a “meditation emoji” every day to show that we have meditated so that we can hold each other to account. We also send each other high fives and encouraging words when one of us meditates and shares his insights.
And guess what? In my meditation research, I found that a UCLA study found that people who have meditated for an average of 20 years had more gray matter than non-meditators. And since a gray volume with a higher volume is associated with a higher IQ, we get smarter day by day when we meditate. Cool what?
What do you think? Have you developed routines to help you deal with this period of uncertainty? Have you ever tried Miracle Morning?
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