How A New Morning Ritual Can Change your Life
Back in March, after my book launch I got sick. The only work I could do was listen to podcasts, sign up for webinars on writing and wobble my way through nights medicating Mathilda, who has narcolepsy.
Being grounded, forced to slow down, meant I discovered something life-changing. I was watching an interview with Hal Elrod on Jeff Goin's site and was struck by his survival story and his book "The Miracle Morning," which is the "not so obvious secret to transforming your life before 8am."
The premise of the Miracle Morning is that if you get the first hour of your morning right, the remaining hours of your day will line up positively with you at the helm, able to deal whatever is thrown your way and actively engaging with every moment. But the challenge for me was to wake up an hour earlier than normal (5 am) and start a new practice as a chronically sleep deprived, full-time Mom, care-giver, writer and advocate. I waned to try it but honestly doubted if I could really miss out on another hour's sleep because after giving Mathilda her second dose of Xyrem around 3am, I usually do get back to sleep.
The Miracle Morning utilises 6 practices, performed alone and in your happy place which for moi, is outside in the front yard under our large oak trees.
Here's a quick look at how I have modified the Miracle Morning to fit in with my schedule:
- Wake around 5 am and make tea--English breakfast of course!
- Sit down outside around 5.15 am, just before it gets light with notebook and reading material. I absolutely love dawn so once I'm to there it's bliss.
- Meditate for 6-10 minutes. Since I hadn't clue how to go about this I searched for an app and found one called Breathe which suggests a tailor-made meditation depending on my physical, emotional and mental state. I'm practically in love with the woman who speaks gently to me every morning!
- Write down affirmations. These are personal statements which reflect my strengths and tiny triumphs. This list was bit on the short side because thinking about what I am actually good at doesn't come easily. Affirmations are also a letting go of negative thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. Phew!
- 5 minutes of visualization: this is where I explore with my minds' eye various goals, fears and hopes. Recently I did a transatlantic flight which frankly almost had me begging my doctor for meds. But instead I visualized being on the plane with my kids, feeling chilled, watching great movies (with noise reducing headphones) and landing safely in London. Visualizing the flight as an enjoyable experience turned it round for me. I did still have the pre-boarding panic but that was it. What an incredible turn around!
- Reading: For the next 20-30 minutes I read non-fiction, inspiring and life-giving texts--anything from Brene Brown to Pema Chodron to Seth Godin.
Scribe: Lastly, I write down my blessings. Leaning on the belief that joy is rooted in gratitude I reflect on all that is wonderful about my life. I write a whole list of of people and opportunities that I am grateful for and specific actions to which I am committed to implementing.
My new morning ritual takes between 30-45 mins. The Miracle Morning recommends adding in exercise after the visualization but I prefer to do that later because it fits with my schedule and the crazy long Zumba line at the gym. I also love yoga which compliments the miracle morning mindfulness perfectly.
As a close friend put it recently, "your life is a slow, sad, madness." She's probably right but I am a great believer in living fully in the light of chronic illness and suffering. There's nothing I can really do about the diagnosis that hangs like a chain of rocks around my neck, but there are fleeting moments each day where joy is within my grasp, and I love those moments.
Getting up 3-4 times a night to help Mathilda with her doses means I am super tired and in the early weeks of starting out I did falter. But it's brought so much calm and perspective to my life that I am now dependent on getting the first hour of every day right.
The Professor says I am more zen than I've ever been and if there's ever a morning when I'm struggling to wake up, he'll kick me outside with a cuppa and not let anyone disturb me.
Not even the cat.
With grateful thanks to the Professor, Jeff Goins and Hal Elrod.