I have a lot of things I do in a morning that require a great deal of me...writing, meditation, yoga, hiking...it is not easy to get up every day and do the same stuff over and over again especially for someone like me. I am so often moved by feelings and, to be honest, I do not feel like doing most of the above things every day. Hell, I don’t even feel like doing them every week! Any of them!
But all of the things mentioned above, are things that I do because they bring meaning and structure to my life. They are all based on commitments I have made to myself and/or others.
I have created a hard practice for myself in its structure that does not lend itself well to feelings. Feeling really have no place in the whole daily grind...exactly! My daily practice and routine is designed to be feeling proof. I just do it, no matter what. I do not allow illness, despair, depression, excitement or lateness to really alter my course. I am not really good at even making allowances (although I am getting better at this). I have to be this disciplined lest I venture way off course. Because let’s be honest, if I wait until I feel like it, it will never happen, or even if I manage to get it going, I won’t keep it going very long if how I feel is the precursor.
So much of my life was/is based on how I feel. Yet, so often, I am the last to know what it is I am feeling, where it resides in my body and how it is affecting my life. I am lost in my own internal world, largely by my refusal to really look at it all that much. Which brings me to the hard practice...
This is how I figure out where I am. Who I am and where I am off course. I really have no idea what I am going to write about until the characters start to appear on screen. Sometimes I write stuff, then go back to edit and I can’t believe that I wrote that just minutes before. Sometimes I feel like I am reading someone else’s writing. Writing is how I get it out...what is the it? Selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear. If I don’t write every day, I do not seem to have adequate access to my own interiority which is often shot through with all of the above. Writing it down is like my own spiritual exorcism, expelling the demons of dishonesty, resentment, fear and selfishness. This is not to say that I eradicate them once and for all, but instead make an effort to address them in my daily life so that I can live a more balance and loving life...for me and for you.
I need this probably most of all. I dedicated time every day where I am still. Just sitting there watching my mind do all sorts of shit. It is never quiet or still. But what I have learned on the cushion is that the practice of sitting there and breathing in and out and watching all the stories my mind tells me, helps me off the cushion because I have strengthened the practice of just watching my mind instead of getting all caught up in it. So when I am out there living my life, and my head starts to spin stories that are loosely based on fact, I can notice it instead of allowing myself to be swept away in the torrential current of my thoughts and feelings. That is always how it works for me, I have a feeling and my mind steps in to write a very interesting fact pattern for me which, without meditation, I do not even question, I just blindly accept whatever landed in my head to be fact and then begin adjusting and, usually, fucking up, my life accordingly. Meditation gives me a pause. A pause that is long enough for me to check in with the reality of my experience...and see that not all that I feel and think is actually true...
I am almost 51. My body is aging and my years being athletic and a drunk are catching up to me. The years of running have taken their toll on my hips and without yoga I somewhat resemble a 90 year old woman hobbling to get my coffee every morning. Seriously. Sometimes I am so incapacitated that I actually crack myself up on the way to the kitchen. I start thinking of what I am going to be like in another 20 years and I think that I may be crawling to the kitchen... But yoga brings elasticity to my joints and my head. The mat is where I connect my mind, heart and body. Three entities who have only a passing acquaintance with each other...I think that most of my life I spent in my head and only recently saw the great and magnificent benefit of actually introducing the three. The mat is where they all meet every day. It is where the unified and more centered me squares up with myself. I unite body, mind and spirit on that mat and try, really hard, to keep them all from running off in all directions the rest of the day. I have been trying for a very long time to get a nightly yoga practice going to get them all back together before I go to sleep but the discipline I find in the morning, gives way to the comfort of my bed in the evening. I just don’t seem to be able to find the motivation to bring it all back to the mat at day’s end...yet.
6 miles every day. Weekends I do 10 a day. It is where I go to find all the stuff I lost in the day before. Nature is where I go to see the larger purpose than my little life. It is where I go with my dog to set out on a trail and leave the world behind. I spend the time getting lost in nature and my thoughts about the life I am living. I love the small dust clouds that burst beneath my feet every day. The trail is where I find my heart. It is where I find love and tolerance for myself and for you. It is where I remember that the world is a very large place. And I am just thing tiny part of this much greater whole. It is where I claim my place in it all while at the same time, recognize that I am relatively insignificant in the larger context. My ego hates this. The trail is where I find myself and God. This is where I go to remember that I am not alone, never have been, never will be. The trail is my church. The place that I go to worship the Divine. I am sure that my idea and concept of God doesn’t really look like yours but I see it in every rock, branch, animal, dust cloud or stream of water. The trail is where I find divinity and claim my place within it.
This is a lot to add to an already full day for me but it is what gives the rest of what I do in a day something more than working, parenting and living. The beginning of my day sets up the rest of the day for me to see the dysfunction, grace, fluidity and beauty of my life. Without my morning structure, I would not be able to see all of the facets of my life. It is hard practice. But like most hard things, the reward is far greater than the effort expended. Hard practice, for me, brings prized rewards. Living comfortably and authentically inside my own skin and occupying my own life without letting feeling, thinking, fear, resentment, dishonesty and selfishness run the show. Hard practice does a stand up job in addressing all of the above, daily. And I am the kind of person who is always going to need hard practice to bring about a sufficient change in my installed default for living. Hard practice is really much easier than the hard living I did before which is why hard practice delivers daily.