Create a Morning Routine to Beast Your Day in the Most Zen Way
OK, OK, I know you are already thinking, what the hell is a Zen Beast, well let me tell you - it’s me on the days I follow my morning routine.
Mornings were never my friend; as a kid I had pretty intense insomnia and would stay up all night reading with a flashlight or listening to my sound machine, counting sheep, waiting for the moment where I would eventually drift off (which was inevitably about an hour and a half before I was supposed to wake up to get to school).
This distaste for mornings followed me from adolescence through adulthood. When I worked in New York City, I would roll out of bed as late as possible, quickly run through the morning essentials and make it out the door just in time to speed-walk my way to work and arrive as my first meetings were getting started -mind you, I worked in tech so the “work day” didn’t even start until 10am.
When I started working for myself, I knew it was import to create better habits so I crafted a simple morning routine consisting of seven stretches I had picked up at a 3-day silent meditation retreat, and some law of attraction journaling. To wrap up, I would make a cup of coffee or tea and sit on the terrace/patio/backyard of wherever I was staying at the time and work on a crossword puzzle. I also started slowly acclimating myself to waking up at 7:30am (an hour and a half earlier than I was waking up previously).
Having this small routine in the morning put some much needed structure into my days and I noticed that my overall disposition became more relaxed, focused and motivated once I sat down at my desk to do work. Not only this but I kept this feeling with me throughout the day.
My business coach recently mentioned the book “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform your Life... (Before 8AM)” by Hal Elrod and while I must admit I did not read the book, I did watch a 3 minute youtube video summarizing it (as well as a few book summaries to make sure I got the gist).
Elrod breaks down he components of “The Miracle Morning” into the acronym SAVERS, which stands for silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, read, and scribble.
Now again, I have not read Elrod’s book, so there may be specifics to his method that I am missing completely, but from what I have gathered, I was halfway to my own makings of a miraculous morning and was already feeling the benefits. I was curious to see if adding in the remaining elements would have any affect so I decided to incorporate silence, visualization, and “scribbling” (which is really just morning journaling, doodling, etc).
We’ve all heard the saying - “silence is golden”, well this is particularly true for the start of your day. We are constantly bombarded with noise pollution and the morning is one of the few opportunities we get to sit with our thoughts and our feelings without being sub-consciously influenced by external stimuli.
If you immediately start taking in information as soon as you wake up (whether you are listening to music, catching up on your social feeds, checking your work email, talking to your partner) your brain doesn’t have time to come into it’s own focus for the day. (I am not going to go into all the benefits of silence, but there are a TON, check out this Huffington post article for more information). I am the type of person who always has background noise on (generally the TV) so I wanted to consciously incorporate silence into my morning routines.
Visualization was a little more difficult to adopt... This is something that has always been a struggle for me; my mind is so active that sitting and concentrating on a clear image or scenario takes a lot of energy and concentration. Inevitably, by the time I get into the “zone” my 5 minute alarm is going off. Visualization, like meditation, is a “practice” - it requires us to use our brains in a way that does not come naturally to many of us, so instead of being hard on myself, I downloaded a visualization app to help corral my thoughts.
Scribbling also didn’t enthuse me. I work out early most days of the week and the idea of adding 10-15 minutes of writing on top of everything else all before leaving my house at 7:45 to get to the gym was not a pleasant one. However, I wanted to give this a fair shot so I decided to put some structure around it and spend 10 minutes writing five things I was grateful for and then the remaining time drafting blog posts to elaborate on later (this post just so happens to be the result of a scribbling session).
I ordered a new journal (because nothing is more exciting than a fresh notebook) and set my alarm for 7:06am. The first few days were a little rough - mainly because I felt rushed before having to get to the gym - but I did notice that after two weeks I had created a good amount of draft content to pull from and was working towards mastering visualization - a tool that has eluded me for so long.
Additionally, by the time I get back from the gym I feel like I have already accomplished so much in my day. (Not to mention consistently feeling accomplished by 9:30 in the morning when previously, I wouldn’t even have left my apartment to head to the office till this time hasn’t ceased to amaze me.)
Not only do I feel calmer throughout my day but having a morning routine has helped me become consistently more productive and accomplished. Hence Zen Beast.
I think Elrod lays out a great framework that anyone can take inspiration from to design a custom morning routine that can make them feel like they have performed a miracle before even having breakfast.
So how about you - do you perform miracles before brushing your teeth? If not, how can you leverage “The Miracle Morning” framework to become a Zen Beast yourself?