“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.”
Many of us underestimate the importance of developing a daily practice. We live in a busy, fast-paced world. With so many deadlines and responsibilities, there never seems to be enough time to accomplish everything on the list. Life can feel overwhelming. We feel we are strong when we can “hold it all together” and “push through” the stress or detach from what we are really feeling in our hearts and in our bodies. Over time, we begin to feel depleted, exhausted, fatigued – like we have nothing left to give.
It can feel challenging at first to commit to a daily practice. As though it’s just one more task to add to an already full day. It is easy to listen to our resistance and tell ourselves, “I just don’t have the time”, or “It’s selfish to do something for myself”. We stay tuned into the stressors and chaos of daily life.
When I began developing a daily meditation practice for myself I was very confused. I read many books on the topic. I believed that I had to sit in silence for at least 30 minutes a day and that if a thought entered my mind that I was doing it “wrong”. I also believed that I didn’t have the time to commit to myself – there were just too many other things to be done. I would tell myself, “Maybe when the kids are grown and I am retired I will have time for this”.
I had many personal challenges to face at the time and I recognized that loving self-care and attention was needed. I began to take time each morning to breathe deeply, to feel love for myself, to feel grateful. I let go of the “rules” and developed my own creative practices to check in with my feelings, to clear away heavy emotions, to recharge myself with love and joy and experience clarity as I began my day. I took time to visualize how I would like to be feeling and gave myself the time to feel the subtle shifts as I went from feeling stressed and overwhelmed to feeling joyful, loved, and connected.
When I started I would immediately feel guilt or shame if I didn’t stay committed to the exact amount of time that I had perfectly planned for on Sunday as I would visualize how I would like my week to go. I began relaxing and getting creative with ways to fit in this much needed time for self-compassion. I would take a few minutes at every transition throughout my day, each time I would go to the bathroom, take a shower, sit down for a meal, get into my car. I would take these moments to consciously breathe deeply, to open my heart to feel love for myself, to be aware of my negative thoughts and feelings so that I could clear them.
Developing and committing to a daily practice gives us much needed time to check in with ourselves. It is a time to unplug, do less, and be still. We are able to take the time to slow down and to breathe deeply. It is important to take the time to be conscious and aware of the emotions and thoughts we may be holding on to.
Taking the time to open up our hearts and feel connected to ourselves and the world around us is a beautiful and rejuvenating experience. Committing to some form of daily practice provides us with clarity, peace of mind, grounding, and the ability to follow our inner guidance. Instead of acting from a state of stress and overwhelm, we are able to expand our awareness of who we are and make conscious choices from our hearts.
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