The beginning of the school year is like new years to me as I take time to reassess my own and my family’s intentions, state of being and our path going forward. For the last few months, I have been more gentle with my morning routine. Instead of waking up early to devote more time to meditation, I have chosen to do less. I had been feeling that my body and mind were needing sleep and rest, more than more practice. A longer morning meditation didn’t make sense if I was only going to find myself physically and emotionally depleted later in the day. So for some months, my daily practice has ranged between five and twenty minutes. On the days that this was not within reach, meditation found me in minutes or even moments later in the day.
I have learned that we all experience changing rhythms throughout the year and our lifetime. It has felt right to honor these rhythms and fluctuations, rather than reject them or force something different too quickly. A little kindness and rest has felt nourishing and, thankfully, it came without the added guilt of “I should be practicing more”. I share this especially because it is important for practitioners to know it is okay to take care of yourself. In fact, the ground of practice is self-care and self-compassion. The amount of time you practice is not as important as how you practice and the impact it is having on your life.
As the school year begins, I am now ready to reestablish an earlier morning routine and more time for meditation. I feel refreshed in both my motivation and interest.
If this feels relevant to you, perhaps consider a similar reflection. How much do you do because you think it is what you should be doing? Is it nourishing you? As a result, do you feel resilient to changing life circumstances and relationships or easily stuck or caught in the response or reactivity to them? Or perhaps, has there been a growing sense of laxity? And what is the underlying need or message in either case? What intentions will help you feel balanced and nourished going forward? And most of all, what works for your life today? This could be very different from what has worked in the past or what you wish would work now. Practice is not another way to feel bad about yourself. Instead, it is a way to have honest reflections and a gentle flexibility to the ever-changing currents of life.