“When we take the one seat on our meditation cushion we become our own monastery. We create the compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things: sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness.”
– Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart
We can talk about my desires for my creative life, the needs of my physical and mental health, or my general likes and dislikes, but all of those paths converge in the same place. For lack of a better term, I want to live more monastically. Clearly I’m not going to renounce all worldly pursuits in order to devote myself wholly to spiritual work. There has to be a spectrum, though. There’s always a middle path, not solidly, immutably one thing or another. I’m working on shifting my life away from the purely secular, where that make sense in the context of my wants and needs.
To that end, I’ve come up with five practices that I’m trying to develop. I want to turn these into habits. To tie into my minimalist mantra, I am working to eliminate activities that are not beneficial to make space for ones that will bring me more peace and happiness. In future posts, I’ll cover each of these practices in more detail.
My days will have more enforced media-free time. That mean no streaming music or video on as “background noise”. Cultivating silence also means more technology-free time. Instead of looking at the internet, I write in my journals or read an old-fashioned book made of paper. This practice calls for spending time in nature as well, walking instead of taking the bus, and enjoying some fresh air every day.
You can substitute prayer for meditation, if you like. For me this means sitting and meditating daily. Not to fill some specific time or check some box, but to incorporate it into my activities. This practice includes being present at every moment throughout the day. It also covers time for reflection, writing in my journal, and keeping track of things in my bullet journal so that my time and resources are used wisely, deliberately, and with purpose.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so I’ll just cover the broad strokes. This practice requires a rejection of the superficial, the shallow chit-chat and gossip we all engage in. I want to try to connect with people on a more meaningful level. It also means rejecting individualism, that toxic notion that we’re all self-reliant and don’t need other people, including a cohesive, civil society, in other to thrive.
4. Make Time for Reading
This is both a matter of life-long learning, and of spending more time reading for pleasure. The former covers improving my language skills, my business knowledge, and my study of the dharma. The latter ties into cultivating silence by replacing media and devices with a good novel. All reading provides mental stimulation, contributes to stress reduction, and improves focus and concentration
5. Practice Humility
I’m working on being grateful, honest, and truthful. Expressing those things is definitely something that I will continue to work on, and connects directly to my use of this blog as part of my practice. Some of this ties back to forming authentic community, in that is requires a rejection of the superficial. Finally, it means that I need to rely more on grace, not solely on strength. I need to go with what happens, and not try to control every aspect of my life.