Everyday has a new beginning. Every moment arrives faithfully with the fragrance of the past and a wand to influence the future. How can we have the best day possible ?
In all aspects of life we have some sort of a daily routine. At work there is a rota or schedule. The transportation system runs according to a timetable. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus are available at certain times. Most humans would wake up and shower / brush their teeth before making contact with the outside world. There will be those beautiful familiar family routines where one might have a hug from mum before leaving for school or in some cases the stress of yet another irritation from those you love most. The bottom line is - much of life has routines and we all have a cornucopia of them that we juggle along with the unexpected highs and lows of life.
As familiarity and age advance there is a tendency to get attached to the way it was. This can happen as early as the tender age of two - when separation from the favourite night time toy can create an episode loud enough to raise the dead. Yet life, in her gracious role as a master teacher has at her very core qualities of impermanence, unity, and evolution. We can as humans try to defy this impulse and learn the hard way or we could be like the pro surfer who knows to ride their wave.
So when does a routine become a practice. And when might a practice become a routine ?
To me a practice is something I do consciously. I have chosen to do it. When I achieve a certain degree of familiarity my attention during action will have a degree of being on auto-pilot. Yet, it remains part of a greater mission which is consciously chosen. Routines are what I do on autopilot. Both have an important place in my life.
What practices and routines I cultivate will determine the overall quality and trajectory of my life. One of the most enriching practices in my life is reflection. As a doctor graduation day was a peak moment when I took the hippocratic oath. I belong to a profession which has at its roots honour, integrity, and the opportunity to transform our most valuable gift - health. Since graduation day I cultivated a practice of reading this oath before I went to bed. I always had a copy with me. I also confess I read it "almost" every day. There was the occasional time I missed out my little act of reinforcing my north star but I returned to it - and as the years clocked through residency, fellowship, postdoctoral study and faculty it has never let me down.
Other daily practices I include are gratitude, journaling, meditation, yoga, sleep, and fresh smoothies. Reflection allowed me to become aware when practices that depleted me entered my life. There were times I worked without enough rest, drank too much coffee, too many sugary snacks, and too much diet soda. Once I became aware I started to change my bad habits. Not all change was quick or easy. Yet my daily practice allows me to try and be better. And when I am better I can give more to others and help them be better.
I feel that modern life can sometimes be harsh. We embrace practices with an "all" or "nothing" attitude. And while I am very passionate and believe in the "all in" spirit, over the years I've realised that sometimes having an "all" or "nothing" attitude means I give up and throw the towel in too early on something which could be very special. If only I had been accepting of those days I was less than the ideal I expected myself to be it could have been better. This was a revelation to me.
The daily practice is there to support my life. Not to become another stress. I shifted away from strict regimes and leaned into my own inner wisdom. I started to share this approach with those who came to my Heart of Gaia community project and they too started to blossom.
Dear reader, you are remarkably special. To be alive during these times is an act of courage and even if I never meet you - I give you a virtual hug with the message "I believe in you, I love you, and stand by you."
Try find the daily practices that nourish you most. Remember that the Gandhis, Mandelas, Michaelangelos and Teslas of this world share one thing in common - they are all human and so are you.
There are gifts inside you which our world needs. Gifts come in all shapes, sizes, and manners. A parent who helps a child feel loved and safe is expressing on of their gifts. The street sweeper who left a clean pavement expressed their gift. The barista who made you the coffee that helped you connect your neurons before a 9 am board meeting expressed one of their gifts.
What will you express today.