Every Day, a Miracle

Christa Mastrangelo Joyce - Baja Bliss

Suppose you started each day believing your day is a miracle. Suppose you believed with such “unwavering faith” in the possibilities that lie within “extraordinary effort” that you set out on each day with a plan to enact your best possible life with 3 guiding principles behind your efforts and mindset: to accept everything you can’t change, to work consistently with unwavering faith, and to be grateful in every moment. I am quoting and referencing ideas from writer and speaker, Hal Elrod, whose Miracle Morning book helped me to align consistently to practices I’d been doing in a more scattered way, like reading inspirational books and meditation or prayer. His practice of rising early in order to engage in specific tasks, has become for me a key piece in living abundantly, and has helped me to see that I can start every day from 3 places: in the morning rush, in morning resistance, or as a miracle filled with abundance. Though I don’t always feel like it, I’ve worked consistently, with extraordinary effort and unwavering faith (Hal’s terminology) over the past 2 years, and have discovered 3 ways my day might begin: in a state of rush, a state of resistance, or as a miracle in a state of abundance. 

I’ll explain: morning resistance is that state of “I don’t want” that accompanies the feeling of overwhelm, exhaustion, or the feeling that life is drudgery. When the alarm sounds in the morning, resistance is the voice in your head saying, “Uhhhhhhhhhggggg….I don’t want to get up, please don’t make me get up, I’ll just lie here a few more minutes.” This is the emotional / mental state for me that often accompanies particularly busy times when I am not making space to care for my needs or pause in the day to day for gratitude. Resistance is also the voice that encourages me to keep scrolling through Facebook or newsfeeds, checking out before entering the day.  Maybe for you this comes from a sense of unfulfilled desires or from a lack of sleep. Often, then, resistance leads to the next state—the morning rush. This is the hurried, frantic state that comes when we find ourselves with barely enough time to throw ourselves together, grab a mug of coffee and a breakfast bar, and race out the door and off to the world’s demands. I find for me that this happens when I either pack my morning too full, thinking that I should do, do, do, or when I spend the morning checking out and not being present. 

Neither of these states nourishes me or provides me with the kind of mental or physical energy that I need to accomplish my life’s goals or to connect with others. When I remember that each day truly is another opportunity to live abundantly and gratefully, I start the day knowing that the morning is and can feel like a miracle, one in which I feel more energized, alive, and rich with time and purpose. The topper to all of this? How I start my day tends to be how I spend the rest of it. Starting from rush or resistance, I have a hard time breaking the cycle as the day goes on. Starting from the space of a miracle, I find I enter the world aligned and purposeful. 

The idea here is much like that of the two-winged system that yoga philosophy describes—that of Abhyasa, the firm banks of consistent and committed practice, accompanied by the wing of Vairaghya, the unwavering faith that allows one to let go of their expectations for the work as well as the attachment to any previous results, and to trust in the fluidity of life’s abundance and rich grace that arises daily. Writing it out makes it sound so easy, but truly it takes work and constant self-inquiry. Unwavering faith for me comes in part from the consistent practice of gratitude—witnessing life’s consistent abundance and making note of that so that when I feel tired or unwilling or sometimes even a bit beaten, I have a well of gratitude from which I can draw upward more light. The consistent practices that create a firm foundation around which faith can flow are things like rising early and intentionally to journal gratitude, to meditate and pray, to read something inspirational or that aligns me to my day’s focus, to practice yoga asana and pranayama, and to ensure my physical self-care routine. When I consistently rise to place my day in this direction, I truly start by feeling the miracle of my life unfolding. And in doing this, I’ve discovered I can start my day with the kind of energy needed to accomplish a wealth of goals—often before 9 or 10 AM. 

I took this understanding with me to the Baja Peninsula for the recent retreat I led to Prana del Mar, an off the grid retreat center in Mexico. And what I discovered is that by sharing in this experience, the force of community grows stronger and the miracle feels even greater. The principles, while not difficult, require commitment. And commitment often comes more easily with the support of fellow committed souls. I had the privilege of witnessing the layers of life stress get blown away from these practitioners in the sea breezes coming off the Pacific Ocean, and the way that even the most doubtful practitioners came to life living these short principles. The nature of retreat is such that it should provide a pause from daily routine to reveal a deeper connection to oneself and provide space for self-nourishment that ideally gets assimilated in some way back into daily routine. I began each day by offering a yoga class that included meditation or prayer, gratitude practices, and laughter. Throughout the day we ate delicious, organic food, swam, rested, and practiced additional yoga restorative yoga sessions. I made a point of reminding folks that all the ways we were caring for ourselves could be synthesized into a shorter routine, one that makes space for the soul while prepping the mind and body for work. I like to think that a piece of everyday, even if it’s only ten minutes, can be a retreat, a pause, in order to set the tone of the day and align toward the promise of miracles and abundance.

So, a practice for daily living. Set the intention to wake 10-15 minutes earlier tomorrow. Have everything set out that you’ll need to have a miracle morning. Pick a book that you’re inspired by—be it a self-help guide or the Bible. Grab your gratitude journal if you have one or a simple spiral bound notebook or piece of paper. Place all of these together with your yoga mat or maybe a jump rope or some weights. Maybe include a candle and lighter. Before you go to bed, remind yourself that you only get one life and that it’s worth starting as a miracle. When you’re alarm sounds (or begins to shine like my sunrise alarm light I use), say to yourself, “I am grateful for this new day that’s never been before.” Head to the bathroom to splash your face with cold water, then proceed to your collection of goodies. Light your candle to bring yourself into the present. I like to start first with journaling gratitude, then reading a few pages, then meditation practice, then finally physical practice. So set your clock for 2-3 minutes (depending on how much earlier you rose) to write down all that you’re grateful for from the previous day or all that you’re grateful to enter into this day. For another 2-3 minutes then, read a couple pages from your book. Next spend 2-3 minutes seated with your hand resting on your heart, feeling the way your heart and your breath sync and create a rhythm. With each breath, perhaps say to yourself, “I am grateful for the gift of this breath” remembering that each breath is a new opportunity to avail oneself to the abundant spirit of life. Finally, stand up and for 2-3 minutes get your heart rate up with sun salutations or other quick yoga work, jumping rope, lifting weights, or perhaps running a lap or two around your house to also get you outside. Then pause for another minute and notice how you feel. And from that space of pause and observation, proceed into the rest of your day. Give this practice 7 days. Maybe find a buddy to do it with you and check in with them. At the end of the week reassess. What have the shifts meant for you? What has consistent, steady work allowed? Then can you flow, with faith, into even more, perhaps getting up early enough to allow for 5-10 minutes for each practice? Maybe you’ll even discover that mornings are a miracle, each day a miracle, not just on a beautiful beach retreat, but wherever and however you are.