Back to Basics
I lack discipline. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. For me, this is true across the board, but the experience is particularly painful where it relates to the spiritual plane. As is true with love, a spiritual inclination without discipline and practice leaves you entirely at the mercy of petty feelings, moods, and – not least of all – external influences.
That this is particularly true when the season turns dreary. Without established regimes, enforcement of a consistently clear mind, and other forms of previously defined spiritual discipline, it’s all too easy to let the winter get the better of us.
It’s difficult to avoid such pitfalls, but even more difficult to climb from the pits once we’ve already fallen in. Generally, the only way to get back on track is to start with some very basic concepts. Please don’t take any of this as condescending – although honestly, if I were reading this coming from somebody else, I probably would do exactly that. But let me be perfectly clear: this is being written every bit for my own benefit as much as anyone else’s. If this doesn’t apply to you or it’s beneath you, that’s cool – wait a few days and I’m sure I’ll write something weirder that you’ll like.
Time is WHAT IS GOING ON (?!?!)
A couple weeks back (and, before that, many many other times), we talked about the overarching nature of time, which is singular and circular, like a record album, instead of linear and existing in a beginning-middle-end order. Understanding that aspect of time will help you understand your brain and how you think, perhaps even help contextualize the whole of your life, but it doesn’t necessarily help you with discipline, clarity, or any other immediate day-to-day concerns.
Fortunately, time is a lot of different things simultaneously.
Viewed through another lens, The Present Time is a holistic and objective (well, as much as is possible for a subjective creature such as yourself) screen-shot of not just the current moment, but the environment, circumstances, and previous factors that comprise the total of that moment. In other words, time is WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW. If you’re able to actually see even half of this total view of present reality, the benefits and advantages include oft-desired elements such as increased awareness and mindfulness, expanded capacity for thought and action, and anticipation of upcoming events. If nothing else, being able to identify the internal and external factors competing to influence the nature of your experience RIGHT NOW will grant you greater control over these factors. Most likely, you’ll never be able to control them entirely, but the important thing is that they stop controlling you.
You are alive, but soon, you will be dead. Laugh about this.
How can we regularly access this “screen-shot”? The methods and approaches are practically limitless and I would, as ever, encourage you to go about this process in the manner that most appeals and proves most effective to you. Having said that, I naturally have a few (very basic) suggestions:
- Once per week, at the beginning or at the end – whichever is easier – set aside a few moments to take inventory. Ask yourself, What is going on? What have you been working on? What have you been putting off? What is bothering you? Who, right now, appear to be your allies and, perhaps more significantly, your opponents? What are you currently doing well, and what are the current challenges? What are the priorities? Simply asking and answering these questions once per week lays the foundation for awareness of these elements throughout the week.
- At least once per week, employ some sort of centering ritual. This may involve reviewing a sacred text or completing a special meditation session. Personally, I do one oracular reading each week – a combination of I Ching and Tarot – to humbly seek insight.
- Just stop. Stop as often as you can, but you absolutely must stop at least once per day. I mean stop. Even if it’s only for a few moments. Stop doing things. I’m not going to tell you to stop thinking, because that’s a much more advanced exercise that doesn’t fit in here, but definitely stop thinking about what’s next. Stop being angry or fried. Just pause the day and hold that pause as long as you can. Then look around. What’s going on? What’s happening? Where are you? This is your life, and you’re living it, right now.
- Make yourself conscious of a day. Note that the day is beginning and note that it’s ending. I don’t just mean awareness of the fact that you have to get ready for work in the morning and you get to go home at night. When you get up, take note of the fact that this is a day, and things will happen in it. At night, whether it’s as you travel home or as you prepare for sleep, take note of the fact that this was a day and you just completed it. Things happened in it. More things will happen tomorrow, but this is pretty much it for today.
- Remember that, this week, you are alive, but soon, you will be dead. Laugh about this. Feel free to tell a friend – this helps.
Good luck out there. Feel free to share your own experiences, reactions, and recommendations in the comments section below.