For a few years now, I have been an assiduous practitioner of a well-curated set of morning rituals inspired by Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. In his book, he recommends spending some quality personal time in the morning for SAVERS: Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing. Some people, very likely night owls, may find the time choice rather odd. This string of habits, after all, could be accomplished throughout the day. But there is indeed something a bit miraculous about spending time alone as dawn breaks, something that I think many people would find beneficial.
SAVERS is a great starting point, but the sequence is not set in stone. I had to tweak it in a way that suits my lifestyle. I am single and work mostly from home, so there are no kids to rouse early from bed or prepare school meals for. Why fit all my morning rituals into an hour? So my miracle morning is actually SAVRSE, and I will break this down for you in a short while. For young parents and really busy people who would like to do their own version of SAVERS, an hour is probably enough. It could be challenging on some days, but in general, it is doable.
I wake up every morning at 5 AM to take stock of high fidelity silence. When everyone is still asleep, the phone is dead, and no one is up to interrupt you, it is the perfect time to be productive. It also instills discipline. I may be working mostly from home, but it does not mean I have to sleep while all the other busybodies are heading towards cumbersome traffic on their way to work.
I begin my day in silence through the practice of Transcendental Meditation (or TM). TM is a form of silent mantra meditation developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It requires stillness for 20 minutes, ideally 2x a day. I love doing TM in the morning when my mind is in relative peace, focused and empty, allowing for more knowledge and ideas to flow in and out the rest of the day.
To do TM, one must complete a course, so if you are interested to know more, kindly look for a TM teacher near you. Other types of guided meditation also work, and there are several apps and YouTube resources for this.
After my TM practice, I drink lots of water and then turn on the coffee machine.
I read my affirmations on Evernote using my smartphone. (While I do not encourage reaching for a smartphone until after all the morning rituals are over, I find that storing affirmations on the cloud is useful when traveling. I only browse through mail and social media at the end of my morning rituals.) These are positive messages that help boost my self-esteem because humans do need constant reminding. Positive self-talk also helps me achieve my goals, which come to life in my vision boards.
There are several templates for affirmations on Pinterest in case you are looking for a place to start.
“Assume the feeling of your wish fulfilled.” — Neville Goddard
To get closer to my dreams, I need to visualize them as reality, and the best way to do that is through imagery. I have a vision board in my room of all my goals and dreams in full color. I have a story with visual pegs on my Evernote that describes the best day of my life. I look at them every morning because it gives me a reason to smile, move and seize the day.
“To have a great idea, have a lot of them.” — Thomas Edison
I live to read books, and this love for literature was rekindled only through the miracle morning.
In my past life as a political speechwriter, being well-read was mandatory. But on-the-job stress kept me away from books. The daily news as intellectual fodder would pass muster, and I realized only now what a real tragedy that was.
This year, I have so far read 25 books. I did that by devoting an hour each morning to uninterrupted reading.
It helped that I would read before my workout. Early in my practice, I realized that I do not read enough after a workout. Something about having to get dressed after all that sweat lets the mind forget the equal importance that must be given to brain health.
“Nothing so much assists learning as writing down what we wish to remember.” — Cicero
I do enjoy writing in my journal, but I must confess that it was only recently that mind mapping on paper made sense to me. So now I keep 3 notebooks:
- a life journal — things I want to remember in my life and my travels
- a work journal — notes from meetings which I carry in my purse at all times, and
- a growth journal — maps out stuff that I dream of accomplishing, blind spots I need to be more mindful of and baselines to compare progress with
The last journal was a new addition, inspired by a Medium article entitled 41 Powerful Journaling Exercises for Mind Expansion and Effective Behavior Change by Michal Korzonek.
Intentional journal writing is also a fine excuse to test-run brand new merchandise from the Fountain Pen Hospital (which I visited at the suggestion in a Tim Ferriss podcast by one of my literary heroes, Neil Gaiman). I now write using a fountain pen to do my part in saving the environment. (If anyone knows of refillable highlighters I should know about, I am all ears.)
Exercise is perhaps the least extraordinary activity (thankfully) that I do every morning. I used to be a gym rat, but have now discovered and revel in the benefits of smart apps like Sweat and Daily Yoga. No need to pack for the gym (time waster) and spend ridiculous amounts on unused gym memberships (money waster). I also like taking long walks. The real benefit of working out in the morning? It gets done more. When one works out in the evening, it is easy to be derailed by colleagues or clients summoning the team for dinner or drinks.
On weekends, my morning rituals include solving a NYTimes Crossword Puzzle and longer reading time.
So there you have it. My secret sauce for success begins at 5 AM for 3 hours every day. And by success, I mean good HEALTH. Without it, we are but useless dregs of society. Achieving balance in mind and body was made possible by my morning rituals because I fully invested in myself. No matter how toxic meetings during the day would turn out, I already have my inoculation. So that sense of balance extends to the rest of the day, enabling me to perform at my peak. That gives off a feeling of satisfaction and happiness that is not quite easy to describe.
If you are still finding out what success means for you, or just need more time for self-love, I encourage you to start your days a little bit earlier than everyone else. It might just help you find the meaning and purpose that you are looking for.
In your sacred zone at dawn, you are the only one true master.
“On those mornings you struggle with getting up, keep this thought in mind — I am awakening to the work of a human being. Why then am I annoyed that I am going to do what I’m made for, the very things for which I was put into this world? Or was I made for this, to snuggle under the covers and keep warm? It’s so pleasurable. Were you then made for pleasure? In short, to be coddled or to exert yourself?”
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.1