Discovering the value of having a daily practice

I wrote this post just before Covid-19 reached our shores but it is now more relevant than ever. In a time when our world has been turned upside down, having a daily practice can help us get centred and give us some semblance of normality. It has made all the difference to me.

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I started many a new year with great intentions, plans and routines, only to have them fall apart before January was through. But this year has been different. Three months on and my new routine is still going. Considering the current times we find ourselves living in, I am grateful for that.

I used to live at the mercy of how the wind blew on any particular day. I assumed that was how everyone lived. Waking up, falling headlong into the day, reacting to whatever came along and then at the end of the day collapsing in front of the TV, bemoaning how unfair life was. Basically acting like I had no say in how my life turned out. 

I didn't realise that I had a choice, that I could live consciously or I could live as I always had - unconsciously. As a wise person once said to me, you can either let your subconscious run the show, or you can get into the driving seat and run your life from a higher place. You always have a choice and doing nothing is a choice.  That was a statement that stopped me in my tracks. I've learnt that when you let your unconscious run the show (which I did for a long time), you are basically letting your old programming, limiting beliefs, conditioning and habits run your life. We all do this at some point in our lives. It is part of being human. We inherit and pick up beliefs and behaviours from our family, society, our community and so on. The problem is that they are often not the healthiest and don't serve us in the long term. They might have served us at a particular point in time, as a survival mechanism, a way of avoiding pain or discomfort but they keep us small and powerless. They are not relevant to our lives today. We play the same tape over and over and wonder why life doesn't change. That's the definition of insanity according to Albert Einstein.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Training to be a life coach was my first introduction to the power that I have to change my life. We learned about the importance of our belief system and mindset. We also talked about our daily habits and actions, strategies for making change in our life. It was the start of something new for me. I could no longer go back to believing I had no influence in my life. There was no room for excuses anymore. I didn't change how I was living straight away but I had the awareness that I could. And once you become aware of something you can't become unaware of it. Granted, the seeds had been sown when I was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2016. It was the wake up call I needed. I never saw my diagnosis as something terrible. As hard as it was, and it was hard, I quickly realised that it was offering me the chance of a new life, a chance to start again. I was ready and I wasn't going to waste the second chance at life that I had been given.

I don't want to sound like I have it all sorted because I don't  - far from it. But I'm in much better shape than I used to be. That's where a daily practice comes in - the important word here being daily! It takes more than one day of good habits to counteract a lifetime of bad ones. It is about doing things consistently. 

I now know for sure that how I think, feel and act is my choice and determines how my life turns out.  I've already seen the evidence. The bottom line is that I can't blame anyone else anymore. I am responsible for how I show up and contribute to the community of life.

I have shared some of the things that I do below. This list is not intended to be prescriptive. Find what works for you through trial and error. I try to meditate and write first thing in the morning. It gets me off to a good start but that doesn't always happen.  The bottom line is that when I do all or most of these things every day, I feel calm, centred, grateful, creative, strong and free of anxiety - basically in flow. Thats on a really good day. But even on the not so good days, I keep going with what I can. That is what has made the difference in my life.

1. I meditate for 10-20 minutes.
2. I read - usually from a self-help book
3. I write my morning pages (3 pages of long-hand free flow writing)
4. I exercise - usually a class in the gym or getting outside in fresh air
5. I connect with like-minded people who lift me up.
6. I try to bring an uplifting attitude to all my interactions and steer clear of negativity. 
7. I finish my day by writing in my gratitude journal. I aim to write down a minimum of three things that I am grateful for that day.

Having a daily practice I know isn't a cure all. There are times in our lives when we need outside help. It may be from a counsellor, a mentor, a doctor or someone else. But either way, a daily practice is worth having in your bag of tricks. When the chips are down you have something to return to that helps you rebalance. Now more than ever in the world we need a consistent daily practice.

"Submit to a daily practice. Your loyalty to that is a ring at the door. Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there." Rumi 

 

25th February 2020

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