Routine Rebel From Birth!
Seriously. I revolt against routine all the time and have for as long as I can remember, ask my mom. As an infant it drove her nuts but she definitely perpetuated it by leading a heroically erratic life and dragging me along with her.
I didn't have a chance.
Let's get a few things straight first though. What do I mean by routine exactly?
Well, according to Websters, it's "a sequence of actions regularly followed, a fixed program".
And therein lies the revolt.
Sure, there are some actions I do regularly; I meditate everyday, I do yoga almost everyday, I make my bed every day, I certainly eat everyday, and use the toilet but none of those things are done at the same time or in the same order. And nothing about me or my life is a fixed program. NOTHING.
As Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said, "change is the only constant in life". The same philosopher illustrated that point by saying “No man ever steps into the same river twice”. A river may hold its name but the water that flows through it is ever changing so that from one second to the next it is becoming a different river. According to Buddha, this is one of the unavoidable laws of the Universe - all things must change.
Why is it then, that consistency and routine are so revered? The internet is bursting with articles on the benefits of routine, and I couldn't even count the number of books that are being published every year on what kind of routine you should be implementing to improve the quality of your life. Everybody seems to be preaching the benefits of routine and I just don't buy it. I mean, I believe that routine works really well for some people. I lived with a man for 14 years who relished his routines. I watched him thrive within that structure. But no matter how many times I tried on that lifestyle, it just didn't fit. Don't get me wrong, I am all for improving one's quality of life, just not at the expense of your (my) basic nature.
Unfortunately, it took me a couple of decades to understand and trust my basic nature. I bought into the hype that routine is the end-all be-all, without it, you were destined to be miserable. The shaming and judgment that I couldn't do it, that I must lack discipline or was just lazy, didn't help. Instead, I would overcompensate by sticking to incredibly rigid diet restrictions or working insanely long hours to prove that I was neither lazy nor lacking in discipline. Until I realized that the only misery I was experiencing was my resistance to the fluid nature of my being. And BAM! Just like that, I was liberated.
With the awareness of my basic nature, I was free to be my inconsistent, unstructured but very disciplined and hard working self, from a place of equanimity.
The trick to managing a fluid life is incorporating a daily practice - a beacon. Without my practice, I would certainly lose focus and succumb to the plethora of distractions that present themselves. But my practice is NOT bound by the rigidity of routine, instead it flows in a spontaneous unstructured way.
Ideally, I like to start my day with it (the rest of the day just flows so much better when I kick-it off with intention and clarity) but sometimes things come up so I adapt but I always make room for it at some point throughout the day.
The practice itself shifts too because each day is different, it depends on how I'm feeling; what I want to accomplish throughout the day, what I've actually got time for, and what my soul needs to shine brightly. It has become as essential to me as eating and sleeping - the light that guides me in an otherwise turbulent world.
Embracing the fluidity of life and accepting the Universal truth that all things must change has allowed so much more magic to show up in my life, and imbued it with a lighthearted joy and serenity.
Life's a dance. I am still working on the rhythm of my dance; the flow between work and play, relationships, and solitude, generosity and self-care. It's a lifelong process; to move at your own pace and in your own way, even when it doesn't fit society's. It's such a subtle rhythm that without plenty of quiet reflective time (my daily practice) I could easily get swooped up by all the external noise that is shouting a completely different tune. Instead, I listen to what is happening inside me. I feel out my rhythm day by day, embracing the natural flow, and the deepest truth of who I am, in each and every moment.
So for those of you who feel uncomfortable with routine, perhaps it's time you try finding your own personal rhythm. Try listening to the internal flow of your life. Dance YOUR dance. Find what lights you up, and makes you shine, and share it with the world. We need you, just as you are.
And for those of you who thrive with consistent structure, great! Stick with it! Just remember that it isn't for everyone. This magnificent world is full of unique individuals and we all have our own special dance. Embrace yours and allow others to navigate theirs.
SHINE BRIGHT PEOPLE AND DANCE ON!
You are much loved!