Here’s something you probably didn’t know about me:
I've always been able to touch my toes!
As a kid I loved freaking my friends out by touching my thumb to my wrist, putting my leg over my head or moving my ears independently while at the same time doing the wave with my eyebrows (ah la Jim Carrey).
Even in college I remember being the most flexible pitcher on the pitching staff. As everyone around me struggled to touch their toes, I could touch my elbows to the ground while keeping my legs completely straight with complete ease.
My coach used to call me “Stretch” and “Gumby” because when it came to flexibility, I was the best (although the same can't be said about my pitching).
I suppose we all have unique skills in life and one of mine is flexibility…
So yeah I can touch my toes still, I’m double jointed and I’m super bendy, but am I really flexible?
The right kind of flexibe
We live in an age of doing and working. Our society values results over everything so most of us never spend any time trying to develop our flexibility... Instead, the American credo romanticizes term such as:
“Get it done no matter what”
“My way or the highway”
Let’s face it, the whole “American way of life” is inherently rigged.
So then, it's no wonder that when something doesn’t go as planned, we absolutely lose our minds.
To some, having plans fall through is about as close as you can get to dying. And for many of us, the sad truth is that often times a broken plan does indeed lead to a broken heart!
Too busy to be flexible
Working for myself over the last several months has presented me with a set of unique challenges that I’m not sure I saw coming before I left my previous life in corporate America.
Working to serve others is a true blessing but it can also be difficult if you are someone who relishes their routines and rituals.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I’m no stranger to routines!
In fact, I love my routines so much that I ate the same breakfast for almost 5 straight years (gotta love that oatmeal).
Needless to say, stepping into the entrepreneurial life and into a world of uncertainty didn’t exactly light my soul on fire.
To be honest, it's been tough transitioning away from my routines.
When you work for yourself and your job is to serve the needs of your clients and business partners, your schedule is effectively crumpled up, lit on fire, thrown in the trash can and sent to the moon…
In other words, your schedule from 9am to 6pm is no longer YOURS. It now belongs to the people you are serving.
The busy meditator
While working in corporate America I established a pretty substantial meditation practice. Every day was effectively the same. Morning meditations were always done before I left the house and right after the gym each morning. During the evenings after returning home from work I’d try to sneak in a final meditation session before bed.
Every day was like this. Rinse and repeat…rinse and repeat.
Today, I consider myself lucky if I'm able to schedule a meditation session in my calendar.
When you work for yourself each day is new. Some days you wake up at 5:30am and some days you wake up at 7am. Some days you work till 5pm and other days you work till 11pm.
The point is, living the self-employed life leaves you with a lot of freedom but not a lot of time.
So if you think you’ll be able to meditate every day at 10am, think again.
Because just when you think you’ll have time to do it, something will come up and take up the entirety of your morning leaving you no time to meditate.
Before you know it, it's 10pm, you never meditated and you're beating yourself up for “not getting everything done.”
The flexible meditator
It didn’t take me long to realize that if I tried to stick to my routines I would never keep up with my practice. It was all too easy for my meditation time to get filled up with work time, so I knew I had to figure out a better way to protect my practice.
So what did I do?
I started meditating in the car while I waited to pick my wife up from work.
I started meditating while I waited in line at the grocery store or while waiting to get my hair cut.
I started meditating away from my meditation room and started meditating in random places like parks, café’s, and even the gym.
I started staying up 30 minutes later to meditate after my wife went to bed.
I started meditating while sitting on the couch watching TV.
Really at the end of the day, I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable in my meditation practice if I wanted to keep meditation in my life. I had to break my old habits and learn to meditate even when the conditions weren’t perfect.
The upside of uncertainty
Since starting my new career as a consultant and meditation teacher I have had to find new ways to keep meditation fresh in my life. By meditating where and when I can, I am building meditation flexibility.
Back in my corporate days, I used my routines as a crutch of sorts in that I only felt I could go deep in meditation if the conditions (rituals) were JUST right.
Now, because I’ve had to be flexible I can meditate wherever and whenever I want.
I don’t need my meditation room to quiet my mind and I certainly don’t need my rituals to help me stay consistent in my practice.
Do routines and rituals help?
Of course they do but we don’t always need them.
In fact, by allowing yourself to be more flexible in your meditation practice you are also creating more resilience in your practice.
In other words, if you knew you could meditate any where and at any time, what would stop you?
If you knew the quality of your meditation practice wasn’t subject to the environment or time of day it's performed, would you still cling to your routines? Probably not.
Rituals and routines are comfortable, but growth doesn’t happen when we are comfortable. Instead, growth is ALWAYS on the other side of uncomfortable.
By stripping away one ritual after another, we build a more resilient and more flexible meditation practice that will sustain us much longer than one predicated only on rituals and routines.
So this week I implore you, DROP THE ROUTINES.
Bask in the glory of chaos and allow yourself some wiggle room in life. Don’t be so attached to your plans and try to see if you can get a little more comfortable being uncomfortable.
Until next time,
Stay mindful and stay blessed.