The Wisdom of Simplicity

RiverCanoe

Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the stream,

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

Life is but a dream.

* * *

A wise old owl sat in an oak,

The more he saw the less he spoke;

The less he spoke the more he heard;

Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?

* * *

Looking back, it seems that the wisdom of simplicity was freely offered to us in our childhood. Through various nursery rhymes and songs, we were shown what was already intuitively known in our own simple silence. We sang along and celebrated this simplicity – and our freedom – without giving it a second thought (often without even a first thought). Fun was natural and effortless. We didn’t have to try, we just played. We flowed along with life, whether happy or sad, simply moving with the current.

So how did we ever lose touch with the simplicity of our childhood? How did we let life get so heavy? Where did our innocence and innate curiosity go? (It could be noted here that our compulsive ‘need to know’ or our presumptuous ‘right to know’ are far from the natural curiosity of childhood.)

In exploring our changing relationship with this sense of simplicity, we need not feel as though our innocence or curiosity are all-or-nothing affairs. Many of us keep in touch with these parts of ourselves into our later years. It feels quite natural that these characteristics wax and wane throughout our lives. It seems foolish to limit them in any finite way. Even complicated ‘grown up’ lives still have occasional pockets of peace and simplicity. But I sense that if we cherish these virtues, prioritizing our peace and honouring the simplicity of our lives, we can see our innocent curiosity continue to flourish throughout all our days, no matter whatever else may be clamouring for our attention.

Our exploration of growing complexity and fading innocence need not be a witch hunt, either. But it can be helpful to shine some light on a few probable culprits, if only to open ourselves to rekindling our sense of childlike wonder and gratitude. As kids, the joy of exploration was sufficient to inspire us. The fact that life is an incredible gift needed no explanation or qualification. Like many other joys of life, it was entirely self-evident. I feel it to be as true today as it was then, whether or not we have all kept in touch with it. For many of us, however, the magic of life fades at some point and we begin to want more. We carry on feeding this desire unchecked, most often unconsciously, seeking happiness outside of ourselves (the only place we’re guaranteed never to find it!). How did this ever happen?

Is it possible that we began losing touch with our innocence and simplicity when we started feeling like life owed us something? Is it also possible that some sense of obligation to the world began draining our joy somewhere along the line? Is not the gift of life freely given? Can we not receive it with the same simplicity? How did we tangle ourselves up in means and ends? Can’t we enjoy life for its own sake, connecting and creating together without trying to squeeze something more out of it?

Perhaps we can point out obstacles to this inherent joy and simplicity, and just by seeing them clearly as the illusions they are, we can restore our freedom and independence. The idea that we owe something to life can become quite a burden for us. This feeling of debt becomes easily tangled up in guilt and fear. These are two particularly tough walls to break through, and they seem to have built-in mechanisms for ongoing self-reinforcement – feedback loops of warped beliefs and behaviour.

But if we are left to our own devices, simply learning from our life experience, we’ll come to understand and respect balance quite naturally. Rules of ‘proper conduct’ need not be imposed upon us. Reaching out and supporting one another arises quite naturally on its own. Mandating any behaviour sows with it seeds of dissent. Just as when we were children, we want to be free to behave however we wish moment to moment. Being told to act a certain way, even if it makes perfect sense, triggers at least subtle frustration. We need to find out for ourselves. This is the only way for our behaviour to be authentic.

Imagine you are just about to go and shovel a heavy load of snow for your parents, purely out of the good of your heart. You are getting all suited up by the door and feeling glad that you are saving them the back-breaking labour. Just as you are about to open the door, your parents catch you and say, “Before you go playing in the snow I want you to get out front and shovel the driveway!” Just like that, a gift becomes a chore. You’ve suddenly been completely stripped of all spontaneity and generosity. Now you are merely complying with demands.

Freedom is important. It’s pretty simple. Understanding this in our interactions with one another – especially in relationships where we hold authority or influence – is vital to our collective well-being. Love grows all things. It’s not complicated. Modelling righteous behaviour is more powerful than mandating it. Ideally we would all be responsible for ourselves and thus better-equipped to serve and support our neighbours. I feel that we can grow into this self-responsibility while still cherishing our childlike instinct for play. Curiosity and innocence need never be lost. We can follow our hearts and do our part, playfully and freely.

Does this seem crazy? Is it a sign of a culture’s warped priorities when such simplicity sounds so radical? I don’t know. Honestly. Fortunately I don’t feel any need to solve it. I’m just curious. I hope you are too.

Curiosity

Happy Monday.

🙂

Balance

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

– Albert Einstein

Balance

I used to feel as though I was walking a razor’s edge. I had it in my mind that I was navigating a particularly intense brand of balance. I imagined that my balance was especially broad, reaching out to extremes on either side. This was all a story, of course. It wasn’t necessarily untrue, but it was only a story. I was perpetuating it by believing it (and even more so by telling it).

I imagined that I could increase my freedom by increasing my discipline. While it could be said that I was slowly giving myself more and more permission to exercise my freedom through my discipline, I see now that complete freedom was already my birthright, as I feel it is for everyone. Accepting this simple gift is often the hard part.

I feel now as though real balance is effortless. It’s already here. There is nothing we can do to bring it about. This doesn’t mean we can’t work toward goals, but I think we become less likely to invest expectations in specific outcomes. Even as I work on various projects, I continue to be firm with myself at times and quick to forgive myself when I falter. It seems less and less important to arrive at an end result.

My self-discipline is no longer about expectations, but is based more on standards. I feel if we can set ourselves higher standards, accepting that we will fall short of them at times, we will nevertheless stretch and test ourselves, growing beyond what we thought we were capable of. In this light, being able to accept short-term ‘failure’ can actually strengthen us, helping us develop a greater sense of determination and resilience. This patient persistence, when steadily applied, can eventually bring us into the silence of our own centre – our own hearts – where everything unessential begins to burn up and fall away.

But on our way here, balance is clearly a key to well-being. Living in balance can be seen as a ‘sweet spot’ where we let ourselves move through life without getting tangled up in fleeting experiences. We can cherish and celebrate all parts of life as they pass, but we need not resist nor cling to anything we experience. Easier said than done, obviously, but this is keeping balance – not trying to manipulate events or relationships to unfold as we want them to, but simply honouring them as they are.

At times, however, our balance can appear rather delicate, even slippery and sharp. As I mentioned before, it can feel like we are walking a razor’s edge, rigid and slick on either side. But even this can be seen in perspective. We can stop, take a deep breath and re-frame our narrative, realizing we’re more than likely caught up in thought. Balance doesn’t require cracking some code or figuring anything out. It is more like giving life full permission to do what it will with us.

There are countless ways to look at balance – there are too many frames to fathom and factors far beyond our figuring. It seems then that living life in balance takes a measure of faith. Stomaching some uncertainty seems vital. A tolerance for paradox may help us along the way, while we’re at it. It even feels like being ‘out-of-balance’ from time to time can be a part of anchoring in our overall balance. That sounds a bit crazy, but I feel it is true.

A phrase came to mind some time ago which feels relevant here. When it first occurred to me I intuitively sensed a deep truth in it, even though it didn’t necessarily make logical sense: ‘A return to balance is inevitable. A departure from balance is impossible.’ It seems to point to the fact that nature is taking care of everything. We need not struggle and strain. Life operates in balance, even when it seems to be completely out of whack. After all, what do we really know about the big picture if we’re in the middle of it?

After tasting some of the extremes at either end of the emotional spectrum and realizing they eventually level themselves out (despite ourselves), I have developed both a deeper respect for balance and a greater faith in it. Now I see balance wherever I look. Occasionally I catch myself yearning for more, which seems crazy. More balance? That sounds impossible. I like to laugh at myself when I see a thought like that pass by.

It seems that real balance is beyond value judgements. It’s the centre. How could we possibly amplify it? At best, we can look inside and let it level us out. Despite being drilled with heavy doses of duality every day, our attention often being pulled in opposite directions, we can take time to be still and submerge in our centre. This is a shared space, beyond comparison, beyond competition, beyond conflict of any kind. In this quiet core, when we let everything else collapse, we come to see the balance that never needed to assert itself. It has always been here.  It is beyond measure. How can there be any less? How can there be any more than all there is?

Einstein

Trust balance. Keep moving forward.

🙂

She Who Laughs Lasts

Laughter

Yesterday I awoke and noticed snow falling softly outside my window. It made me smile. It was actually gathering on the ground for the first time this season. The cool winds of change I have been feeling of late seemed to have suddenly delivered winter. I decided to change up my regular morning regimen and attend the Montreal Laughter League instead of doing my usual yoga and meditation. I figured the laughter would provide a work out of its own, so I suited up and headed out. I had been meaning to join the Laughter League for some time, having noticed their poster up at Burritoville. They meet on the first and third Sunday of every month and I was glad to be finally dropping in. It was only about a ten-minute walk from where I am living right now. As I approached the door I noticed a gentleman crossing the street headed straight for the same place. We greeted one another and entered together.

Sporadic laughter was already issuing from within. I introduced myself to the few folks already gathered and felt immediately welcome. A few more folks trickled in and we got started. We went around the circle introducing ourselves and breaking into laughter afterwards. We were encouraged to put it forward even if slightly forced, allowing the laughter to become more genuine once it got rolling. I wasn’t immediately fond of the notion of forcing a laugh, but the power of momentum surprised me more than a few times. The phrase ‘fake it until you make it’ came to mind. I was amazed at how quickly forced laughter became real. I occasionally pictured my Mom and a couple of cackling Aunts getting carried away in their hilarity, which consistently spurred me on. Even just looking around at the others in the room was often enough for a laugh. The sheer ridiculousness of the setting and our behaviour became a common cause for continued laughter.

We practiced several specific styles of laughter, interspersed with rest periods. We passed laughter around the circle at random; we partnered off for close eye-contact laughter; we pointed at ourselves and laughed, and we even tried to suppress laughter as if we were ‘little schoolgirls’. My cheeks were hurting early on and I was grateful for our moments of down time. We were guided through breathing exercises and encouraged to shake our sillies out from time to time (laughter often emerging from the silence). We also stopped to study the phenomenon of laughter itself.

We learned a lot about laughter. It seems to be a global language. It is a natural reaction to life. It is not something that we strictly pick up from social cues. Even deaf and blind babies laugh naturally, never having ‘learned’ it. We watched our bodies as we laughed to see where it was coming from, belly, chest or throat. We identified a few basic variations of laughter – the HA HA HA, the HEE HEE HEE, and the HO HO HO – and observed the unique characteristics associated with each.

I got really going a number of times and I was sweating before long. Experienced laughers spoke of the importance of dressing in layers so you could gradually strip down when you got overheated. I was grateful for the pitcher of water on the table in the middle of the circle, but we were warned to drink with caution as it could easily go down the wrong pipe with even the slightest chuckle.

After about an hour or so I noticed that my brain was hurting. It wasn’t exactly a headache but it was becoming slightly uncomfortable. It was pulsating pretty intensely and I felt like new parts of it had been ‘laughed to life’. My neighbour mentioned a similar sensation just as our leader began winding us down for the closing meditation. I was grateful for the rest.

As we fell quiet (for the most part), the meditation melted my body and mind. I felt a million miles wide. Already having a great deal of experience in meditation (often following the exertion of yoga), I was surprised at how deeply I relaxed. I feel it was such a deep meditation because of the stark contrast with the intense workout. All that laughter had been quite a release. It was a different sort of exertion than I was accustomed to leading up to my meditation. As we wrapped up, we decided as a group that ‘she who laughs lasts’. It felt like a valuable nugget to walk away with.

As I strolled slowly homeward I thought about the importance of contrast. It seems we are constantly oscillating between opposites, often to extremes. The very nature of growth seems to bounce us between tension and release. In exercise of any kind we first strengthen before trusting our muscles. Learning to let go of our ‘picture of perfection’ and to simply accept life as it is can be such a skill. We can develop and deepen seeds of peace through active surrender, accepting the fluctuations of life’s various storms and seasons.

The ultimate contrast we seem to be experiencing is between being and becoming. Though it can seem chaotic at times, the wisdom of a wider perspective can help us to embrace this strain with a smile, perhaps even a laugh. A favourite teacher of mine, Nisargadatta Maharaj, said that “it is in the nature of being to seek adventure in becoming, as it is in the nature of becoming to seek peace in being.” This feels intuitively true and it has certainly been the case in my life. What we can come to appreciate as we bounce back and forth is the strengthening of our centre. Our balance can become both broader and stabler as we continue learning and growing, oscillating between the extremes of rest and adventure. Patience and persistence are ever our allies on this journey. But it is helpful to remember that resistance to life’s vicissitudes can halt our development. Simply accepting what is seems to be the wise way forward (as difficult as it can be).

As I look out my window again this morning, I smile to see the softly falling snow. I am reminded of all I love about winter, knowing also that summer wouldn’t be what it is without it – the cold affords the warmth. I am willing to suspend, for the moment, thoughts about winter’s less attractive traits, grateful to laugh and see that this snow is beautiful in itself. I accept this gift as it is right now, looking no further forward.

winter-snow-fun

Reflect On What You See

Poppies

This is a time for reflection. It need not be loud. It need not be wordy. But with an earnest heart, this time of reflection can lead us to see more clearly. We can come to see ourselves more clearly, as well as our place in this world. We can come to see just how much has been sacrificed for us to live as we do today. Realizing the incredible freedom so many fought for, we can begin honouring it by living lives of integrity and service. They need not be flashy. We can even serve in silence. But before running around ‘putting out fires’, I feel we would be wise to take this opportunity for remembering.

I started this blog on Remembrance Day last year.  My first post was about Remembering. I talked about the two sides of memory and the importance of remembering wisely – remembering with perspective. I won’t say much today. If you really feel like reading, look at last year’s post. There are a lot of words there. They are heartfelt, even if a bit pointed. But right now I am more interested in inspiring silence. This is where the real work of remembering is done. Silence is the invisible ground we’re all standing on, so to speak, whether we know it or not. This is the space we all share. We each have equal access to this silence in our own hearts. There are no borders or boundaries here. I am not speaking metaphorically. I encourage you to take ten minutes to unplug and listen to yourself. Remember who you are. This is perhaps the most powerful way we can honour the fallen. By remembering ourselves more deeply we broaden our capacity for service.

As we remember more of ourselves we become freer – freer to see and freer to serve. By allowing ourselves to see into our own hearts more deeply we release the chains of ignorance and reclaim our clarity and strength. This is an effortless process – which can nonetheless be very hard work. The willingness to be truly still is rare, but if we try we’ll see this willingness grow – and it is vital to carry on.

If we allow ourselves to be truly still – in heart, mind, and body – everything we have failed to face will step forward. This may be frightening at first, but the more light we shed on these shadows the stronger we’ll grow, building courage with every step. As we face these neglected parts of who we are, allowing ourselves to remember more fully, we gradually become freed from the clutches of fear.

So I encourage you to brave your own inner-silence, facing whatever battles you must face to break free. In this brave endeavour we can remember that the wind is forever in our sails. All we can truly do is allow everything to unfold for itself.

The Giver Never Lives in Lack

GenerosityHeals

Sometimes I like doing something for someone else that nobody knows about – something that nobody can find out about. I enjoy when it is completely anonymous. It is important that I never get any credit for it – it ensures my motive is pure. Even mentioning it here feels almost like ‘cheating’, but I bring it up simply to encourage anyone reading this to give it a try. I suspect many of you already have. And for those of you who do practice generosity on a regular basis, it might be interesting to shake it up and try it in such a way that you won’t be found out. Why not? It could be a fun little experiment.

One interesting side-effect is that this practice can shed light on our face-to-face generosity. Often there are subtle layers of politics operating in our day-to-day generosity. Over time these can become obstacles to deeper service and self-sacrifice. Perhaps acknowledging and examining these patterns can help us to break them down and let them go. I am not claiming any incredible personal track record here, but simply speaking from my own experience. I have learned that generosity offered without any possibility of getting something in return can open the heart to overflowing joy. Even the slightest trace of personal credit can block this boundless love. But with just the simplest selfless action, this love can blossom into the deepest gratitude for life and an understanding of our intrinsic connectedness. There is a peace in this which beats any other high I’ve ever tasted.

This isn’t to say that practicing generosity where we will be credited for our good deeds is wrong. That’s crazy. Clearly any form of generosity is still good for all involved. I am simply suggesting that trying to share in a new way might show us something more about ourselves – something more about life. I’m not trying to suggest that we’re missing out on anything if we don’t practice this brand of generosity, but I know we can deeply enrich our lives with even the simplest kind turn. We can only try it and see for ourselves what a gift it is. If it feels strange to try this alone we can even conspire to commit random acts of kindness with a good friend, or a partner. This sort of collaborative generosity can be great fun too!  (But still try it in stealth mode…)

The title of this piece, for example, was such a gift. Although I know the source, my friend (who came up with it) offered it to me free of strings. He didn’t want any credit. I suppose he is putting trust in his own words – practicing what he preached. I don’t want to deny him the joy of his anonymous generosity so I will simply tip my cap in gratitude, not taking any personal credit for the lovely rhythmic and rhyming title of today’s post. It strikes me as a mantra. The giver never lives in lack. I have found it running through my heart and mind ever since he shared it with me, repeating itself frequently. The giver never lives in lack. It has a beautiful quality to it on purely an aural basis. It feels good in my mouth, too. The giver never lives in lack. It is entirely pleasing, even before considering the message it carries. This, of course, is where the real juice is found.

So I hope it can plant a seed in your heart – or water one already growing – and lead you out into the world with the will to share a little love. It’s not complicated. Maybe you’ll even try a few new ways to give it. I am sure you will be glad you did!

Happy Monday all!

🙂

Generosity

Here, have a piece of fruit…

Make Change Your Friend

Change - Road Sign

Change is inevitable. And yet many of us resist it with incredible force. Many of us have become afraid of change. Why is this? When did this happen? Did change always frighten us? I seem to recall anticipating change with great excitement as a child. I recall looking forward to growing up and seeing new things, meeting new people and going new places. Most kids dive into change with abandon. So why don’t we? What changed?

Change is growth. Growth is life. We cannot hide from it. To usher in the new, we must part with the old. I suspect that for many of us our fear of change begins when we focus on what is being taken from us instead of what is being granted. The balance is always there. But when we misjudge and overvalue our sense of security, investing it in material ‘holdings’, we begin cutting ourselves off from life. This insulation and isolation, misunderstood by many to be ‘security’, actually limits our inner growth, effectively distancing us from truth and deepening our fear of change. And the tighter we hold on to this ‘sense’ of security (it is only an idea, after all), the tougher it is when life comes to take away what was never meant to stay. In this light, cultivating at least an openness to change (if not excitement) is a valuable tool for our well-being.

For those of us who are not quite so afraid of change, we nonetheless find ourselves often frozen in the face of choice. We know change is necessary but we can’t figure out how to implement it. “I need a change,” we say, and yet nothing changes. We just keep saying it. We seem to be creatures of habit, and change can be challenging, whether good or bad. But we can learn to embrace change. We can even make it a habit. We can begin by simply coaching ourselves, saying at the outset of a day, “Today I welcome change into my life.” If we say this to ourselves a few times a day (or even just once) for a few weeks, our lives can open up in wonderful ways, showing us a deeper truth and beauty than we may ever have imagined. All that is needed is the simple willingness to continue growing.

This willingness becomes an incredible ally in the face of life’s inescapable and occasionally jarring losses. One positive thing I discovered in the midst of great chaos and change in my life was that I became more anchored in the changeless. Great turmoil can actually lead us to a part of ourselves that is constant and calm. Out on the road, dealing with a bruised ego and a broken heart, my peace paradoxically deepened (amidst great waves of anguish). As life swirled around me, with nothing tangible to hold on to, I sensed a greater presence growing in my own heart. I discovered that the more change we can endure, the more stable we can become, rooted in that which is beyond change. This we can call God, Spirit, Balance, Awareness, or Life itself – the words don’t matter. But we all have equal access to this inner peace. I feel greatly blessed to be so deeply anchored in this abiding awareness, seeing clearly that it is more secure than anything which we could ever dream, build or hold. This ineffable essence is the foundation of all life, and it is unassailable.

The more we are able to hold to the changeless, keeping our minds, hearts and souls rooted in this quiet presence, the safer we are from feeling victimized by the inevitable changes of our lives. Thus, our ability to discern what is constant in the midst of change is vital. All experience is fleeting – even the most profound and transcendent. See this clearly and let it all go. Eventually, with patience and persistence, practicing presence in the face of change, nothing that comes or goes will hold any sway over us. We come to understand that it is only the love within and between all people, things and dreams that is of lasting value. It is this eternal love that we really cherish, and all the temporary vessels and expressions of this love are meant to move on, to continue growing and changing. The more we learn to let go and trust life, the more we can grow in this changeless love, endlessly expressing itself through constant creation, ever-changing, ever-new. We come to see this diversity and mystery as a great blessing. We come to see it as freedom, and absolute security.

This, of course, is the ideal, and perhaps a lofty ambition for some. But I trust that if we continue risking what we see as our security, if we open our hearts to greater change, we will be amazed to grow in ways that actually bring us to a much greater safety, even when it seems to all appearances to be just the opposite. This is the peace that passes all understanding, deepening our being. At times, it may seem kind of crazy, but this is the nature of living and learning.  Real growth takes a bit of faith. Faith is not rational and it never will be. So take a chance on change. Lean out into life and try something new, or simply make yourself available to it. Make change a new habit. Experiment. Invite growth into your life. It may feel a bit scary at first, but keep pushing through – it is always worth the effort. I promise that, in the end, you will be glad you did.

Change

Routine: A Double-Edged Sword

power generator

At the end of this long weekend, as we dive into what is essentially a new season, I feel inspired to share a few quick thoughts on the power of routine. This moment seems a valuable opportunity to become more conscious of our daily routines, as so many of them shift from ‘summer mode’ back into ‘work mode’. Though it remains business as usual for many, so much of our western society runs on the momentum of the school year. We can scarcely avoid its effect. So perhaps this is the perfect chance to take stock of some of our routines, both individual and collective, and to consider a bit of tweaking and trimming.

The more we examine our lives, the more we come to see the staggering influence routine has over us. I feel it can be our greatest ally or our most dangerous enemy. Like anything else, I believe it exists in balance, and we are free to do with it as we see fit. The more aware we are, however, the more effective we can be in intentionally developing healthy habits in service of growth and well-being, both for ourselves and others.

***

Sculpting and practising new routines can be very difficult. It can even be scary. For many of us, routine is a blind comfort that we don’t even question. It seems to us as though it has always been there, and we would feel naked and lost without it. But maybe there is some value in rocking the boat a bit. Why not stretch and test ourselves with a few experiments? Perhaps we are capable of more than we imagined. One positive flip-side of developing new routines is the sense of accomplishment we can derive, aside from the greater positive impact we can have on others. Beyond that, simply discovering a strength or a skill in ourselves that we didn’t see before is a reward in itself.

So where do we begin? Well, it helps to be aware of which habits we have taken on unconsciously and which habits we have chosen to exercise. This can be the first sorting station. Is there some behaviour that we repeat simply because we have always done it? Can we remember why we do it? Is it serving anyone or anything? These are questions we can ask ourselves to get closer to the roots of our routines.

Beyond that, we can further examine our routines, whether conscious or otherwise, and discern which are self-serving and which are in service of others. This can be a sloppy process, and is not necessarily cut and dry. I feel, from my own experience, however, that the more we serve others, the more we ultimately serve ourselves. (Beware –  it may not work so well the other way around…) If we simply do something good for someone else that nobody will ever find out about, we will automatically feel the good we’re doing for ourselves alongside. Another writer referred to this as ‘enlightened self-interest’ – a fitting term, I feel.

This project of exploring our routines and their foundations need not be a major overhaul, though it could end up taking some much further than they imagined. In my case, I felt compelled to go deep, exposing well-cemented selfish patterns (work ongoing…) and bringing their folly to light. It becomes hard to continue investing in such habits when their fruitlessness is clearly seen. Throughout this process, I have identified and eradicated many extreme habits and stances, including a negative view of routine itself, which I once held firmly.

For the longest time, I was trying to escape from routine altogether, evading what I felt to be something imprisoning me. The more I grew aware of the influence of routine the more I wrestled with it. Now that I have accepted the balanced nature of the power of habit, I strive to develop healthy habits and continue to identify and eliminate old patterns that no longer serve anyone.  Regular ‘check-ups’ can be helpful.

I have found that the so-called ‘mundane’ routines so many of us lead can dull our senses. This is one of the dangers of routine. It can blind us from the beauty and interconnection of life, simply because everything feels ‘the same’. We see the same people, go to the same places, and do the same things, and our senses become dull as a result. When we meet new people, in new places, doing new things, we perk up and become sharp, exercising our attention – we become alert and awake. This is not necessarily an anxiety-based wakefulness (which many mistake it for), but there is undoubtedly an element of vigilance at work. This heightened awareness, once habituated, can then be turned inward to observe ourselves and the various dysfunctional patterns and habits at work.

This is precisely what happened with my first year of cycling and traveling around Europe. After habituating this heightened state of alertness, having travelled widely and steadily, my attention was turned suddenly inward (due to heartbreak), and I finally surrendered all of my schemes and routines. I had to exercise this surrender again and again (even still I recommit), emerging afterwards to continue aiming for the lofty ideal of healthy habits in service of love.

We need not necessarily expect to accomplish anything specific with our routines (they are cycles, after all), though I feel it is important to work toward something. Understanding the subtle difference here is important. Redeveloping our routines for maximum efficiency and effectiveness is not necessarily about a finite, concrete outcome.  Nevertheless, in assessing and reshaping our routines, understanding our intentions becomes paramount. Expecting a particular result can actually become an obstacle here. Instead, we can find ourselves a less-tangible (though no less bright) guiding star and carry on working in service of our dreams.

Routine

Working from this little image above, perhaps we can blend the two, honouring the power of routine while still seeing the beauty of ‘the new’ always around us.  The ideal may well be to routinize as many healthy habits as possible without losing our awareness of their ongoing novelty as we move through them – we don’t want them to become empty rituals. With this approach, we can free up more space in our lives – more space in our hearts and minds – and we can offer this free space to those in need, through simple acts of service and love.

***

I don’t really know anything, mind you – I’m just spit-balling here. I’m simply expressing myself honestly in the moment, with the intent to incite and inspire, through relatively gentle means.  But maybe a shake would do us some good, too.  You should look inside and be your own judge.  Test yourself, if you feel called.

For instance, I just finished a 12-day juice fast, not eating any solid food the whole time – just juicing vegetables and a bit of fruit (…not blending…JUICING…a big difference). It proved to be a great test and cleansing process, and I feel so clear and clean after, even more ready to recommit to my lofty ideals, unafraid of the failures I may face along the way. I continue to trust patience and persistence to guide me.

However simply it may be, perhaps it’s time we all have a look at our routines (and our intentions) and readjust them for wider service of the greater good.

Healthy-Habits

PS…Love is always the answer.

🙂