Posts Tagged ‘routine’

This weekend we were out-of-town visiting my wife’s Aunt who is staying in a shore house down in CT. The house is right on Long Island Sound and it is one of the most beautiful places you could ever visit. When you sit on the porch, you get about a 200 degree view of the water. There are boats and birds and waves and rocks and anything you could possibly want to assist in the task of relaxing. I spent the weekend sitting down relaxing. My relaxation was only interrupted with periods of naps, meals, swimming, walking, fishing or kayaking. No internet and no cell phone service meant I was cut off from everything. I was forced to be present in the moment and just enjoy where I was and what I was doing. I highly recommend that you find a place, or make a place like that for yourself. It’s so good to be able to rest from time to time. Our lives are so busy and our time is so filled up that we often forget that it is important to recover from time to time. The stress that we put ourselves under is killing us. If the kids didn’t start school and if I wasn’t working on a big project for my job I’d have gladly stayed for another day or two.

One of my more enjoyable experiences was sitting on the sea wall and meditating while the high tide hit the rocks below me and occasionally hit my feet with water. I have never found it so easy to be present in the moment with nothing clouding my thoughts or demanding the attention of my mind. There were birds flying overhead and waves beneath my feet and my son sitting quietly with me on the wall and I was absolutely absorbed in that moment alone. The beauty of a clear mind cannot be overstated. In that moment, I had no problems. At that time, I wasn’t worried about work or the state of my life or the world or my relationships with others or my weight or any of the thousand other things that demand my attention. I had reduced my mind to paying attention to a piece of seaweed that was floating on the waves and hitting a rock every so often. I believe that this is the type of clarity that people often pay a lot of money for when they go to a retreat for days. Now that I’ve experienced it, I can see why they do. I had no great spiritual epiphanies, I did not become enlightened, I did not transform into a higher level of consciousness: I was simply my true self for a few minutes sitting on a sea wall and experiencing a oneness with everything around me.

The trip was also sad for us because this is probably the last time that we will be able to do this. The house had belonged to my wife’s grandfather and he passed away earlier this year. My wife’s aunt is there for the summer cleaning it and preparing it to be sold. The upkeep and taxes on the property are just too much for our family to be able to keep the house. When you know that you are about to lose something that brings you so much peace and joy, you are going to be sad about it. It’s a part of our nature as humans that we don’t want to lose something we see as beneficial. However, nothing is permanent. If we were to try to come up with a way to hold on to this home, it would cause our family and my wife’s extended family financial hardship, arguments and in the end create suffering and strife. We realize this but it does not make the loss any less painful. Impermanence is a blessing when it comes to suffering: we know that it will not last forever. However, it feels like a curse when it means that things that bring us joy must also go away. Even though I have only visited this house four times in my life I already feel an attachment to it. I can’t even imagine the loss felt by other members of the family who grew up visiting the house or spending significant time there.

That’s why rest is important. Even though the weekend was tinged with sadness, there was much more joy in it as we relaxed and rested on the shore. In those restful moments or in my moments of mindfulness and meditation, the attachment to the house lessened and the suffering caused by its impending loss was not there. This weekend was beneficial to me in so many ways: it strengthened my resolve to live mindfully, it showed me how beautiful the practice of meditation can be, it gave me more motivation to continue to lose weight and exercise, it taught me about impermanence and attachment, it gave me a time to disconnect from the things that demand my attention, it provided me with an opportunity to say goodbye. We’re back at home now and I’ve already spent the morning struggling with a difficult problem at work and I’ve had to deal with the phone company who had not yet made repairs to our home phone line and I’ve had to deal with the stress of over sleeping and not having time to exercise or eat a proper breakfast. However, I’m remembering the weekend and the peacefulness that I experienced and I’m trying to keep that with me through all of it. I feel much more prepared to handle these thing than I was before we went away on Friday. I hope that everyone reading this finds the rest and relaxation that they need to continue to face their daily routines with peace and happiness.

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Every morning, I try to make a ritual of mindfulness. This has become really helpful to me in getting my day started on the right track. I thought I’d share a bit about what I do each morning. This schedule isn’t set in stone and I’ve only recently started getting up at 6:00 A.M. In the past, I didn’t get up until 6:30 or later and didn’t exercise at all.

6:00 A.M. – The alarm goes off (if you’re not up already). When you turn it off, perform the Waking-Up Meditation from Savor It’s in chapter 7 of the book. 

Breathe three in-breaths and three out-breaths, repeating the following verse silently for each in-breath and out-breath.

Breathing in I fill my new day with joy/faith/love/gratitude/mindfulness/ease/harmony.
Breathing out, I smile

For the in-breath, choose one of the words that most appeals to you.

6:01 – Out of bed and into the restroom to begin getting ready for the day. When brushing teeth, go slowly and deliberately not thinking about whatever else has to be done in the day.  Take a few breaths and do the teeth brushing meditation. This takes a few minutes to make sure all teeth are properly brushed (doesn’t everyone get this obsessive about dental health?)

Breathing in, I am aware of my teeth and gums.

Breathing out, I look after my teeth and gums.

6:04 – Repeat the teeth brushing meditation, this time while flossing (doesn’t everyone get this obsessive about dental hygiene?)

6:08 – This is a family friendly blog so I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how to use the restroom mindfully

6:10 – Step on the scale. Try not so shout “YES!” while doing a fist pump if it shows that you have lost another pound. Remember, your wife is still sleeping and she’s grumpy in the mornings.

6:12 – Having gotten dressed in appropriate attire, head downstairs to begin exercising on the Wii Fit. Once again, try not to shout if the more accurate Wii Fit scale shows you’ve lost more weight than your bathroom scale indicated.

6:15-6:45(ish) – Begin exercising. This includes step aerobics, rhythm boxing, super hula-hoop, rhythm parade and whatever else you need to fill 30+ minutes and burn roughly 310 calories. Remember to keep a smile on your face as it is “mouth yoga” and will keep your mind from getting negative about the complaints coming from the various parts of your body as you force them to move in ways they don’t like to do. Try to find a phrase to repeat that will keep your mind focused. The mantra from the Heart Sutra is good for its rhythm. The Jogging Meditation from Savor is also good (though too long on the out-breath portion).

Breathing in, I keep moving

Breathing out, I thank my body for its strength, endurance and coordination

6:50 – Back for a shower to get ready for the day and remove the buckets of sweat from your body. Showering is done slowly and deliberately. This is one of the last times you’re going to have to yourself today. Focus on the warmth of the water, the smoothness of the soap and the frothiness of the shampoo as you wash your hair. Don’t think about the day or what lies ahead, that will only rob you of a moment of serenity.

7:00 – Get dressed for work. Remember to pet the cats since they want their breakfast and they’re mad that you haven’t filled their bowls even though you’ve been up for an hour. Come on, what is it with you humans? Can’t you tell a hungry cat when you see one? Don’t you care? Maybe if we headbutt you for a few minutes and pounce on your pants as you try to put them on you’ll get the picture and feed us. PAY ATTENTION TO ME! I’M A HUNGRY CAT!!

7:03 – Feed the cats. Keep hands out of their bowls as there will be sharp teeth in there and they don’t care what they snap shut on.

7:05 – Go to the pantry and grab the large canister of oatmeal from the middle shelf in the back. You know, the one oriented so that the top is on the right  and where the Quaker man is always turned so that you can see his face. (Doesn’t everyone like to keep things in order?) . On the way out of the pantry, grab the cayenne pepper and the cinnamon. They should be easy to find because the spices on the spice shelf are alphabetized and arranged according to size. They’re right between the basil and the coriander. (Doesn’t everyone alphabetize their spices?)

7:06 – Grab a bowl from the cabinet. If there is no clean bowl, wash one. If washing, do it mindfully and intentionally. Don’t think about the oatmeal that you’ll be having later, just wash your bowl. Grab a 1/2 cup measuring cup and a 1/4 cup measuring cup from the cabinet on the right where they always sit on the bottom shelf right between the blue bowl and the stainless steel mixing bowls. (Remember to be thankful for a well-organized cabinet). Grab the measuring spoons (the metal ones, not the crappy plastic ones) from the drawer underneath the cabinet. Don’t forget to grab a spoon to eat with while you’re there. You’d hate to have to go back to the drawer a second time.

7:07 – Grab a packet of Truvia and then measure out 3/4 cups of oatmeal into the bowl. Add the Truvia, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and as much cayenne pepper as you can stand. Mix everything together using the spoon you so wisely grabbed earlier. Add 1 & 1/4 cups water to the bowl using the time that the water is coming out of the sink to wash the measuring cups.

7:08 – Put the bowl of oatmeal into the microwave and cook for 2 minutes. While the oatmeal cooks, put away the measuring cups, the measuring spoons, the oatmeal and the spices. Remember to make sure everything is in its right place with the correct orientation. You wouldn’t want to have something misplaced tomorrow would you?

7:10 – Pull the oatmeal from the microwave and stir well. Grab a Sobe Lifewater or tap water with ice (depending on what you have that morning) and sit down at the table.

7:10 – 7:20 – Even though it only takes 3 minutes to make the oatmeal it takes much longer to eat because you are eating mindfully, aren’t you? Put the spoon down after each bite. Chew each bite slowly. Remember to enjoy the sweetness of the Truvia and the flavor of the cinnamon and the kick of the cayenne. Let each bite linger in the mouth as you slowly chew it and take in the sights and sounds around you. Don’t forget to focus on your breathing.

7:20 – 7:30 – Assist your son who came downstairs at the same time as you and who has been pelting you with questions and comments and bizarre non sequiturs for the past 20 minutes while you have carefully addressed him without allowing it to disrupt your mindfulness. It’s harder said than done, but most morning you can pull it off.

7:30 – Put on shoes and leave for work. This is the last time you’ll be alone until tonight so remember to drive mindfully. Try to do the driving meditation from Savor.

Breathing in, I am driving my car

Breathing out, I am mindful of all that is around me.

7:50 – 8:00 (depending on traffic) – Get to work and start your day. Finally allow yourself to think about what you have to accomplish and come up with a plan of action. Keep the peace and mindfulness you’ve cultivated with you throughout the day. Good luck, you’re going to need it!

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