That's part of the "compassionate container." Consistency and boundaries around my time that build in healthy self-care are a kind way to treat myself in life. They create the opportunity for my authentic nature to arise, which is a more joyful nature.
Discovering when the best time to make some sacred time for ourselves is a journey in itself. Some of us find that we are more available in the mornings, before the daily activities pull us into active minds and bodies. Others find that it is more convenient and we are more available in the evenings after the busyness of the day. Finding this time is part of the exploration of discovering who we are--our preferences, our best times, our body's needs. A really important inquiry!
The following questions may help you discover this time:
- When am I most active in the day?
- When is my mind naturally the calmest?
- When is my household most quiet?
- When can I fit my practice into my schedule?
For those of us with flexible schedules or schedules that are always changing, I've found that "backcasting" works the best. I allow myself 3 hours for my morning routine and travel time. So, if my first appointment is at 9:00am, I backcast from there and awake at 6:00am to begin my day. My routine includes a period of physical movement (yoga, qi gong, etc.) and sitting meditation, plus the usual cleansing, eating, dressing and preparing for the day. (I try to follow an Ayurvedic routine to keep my Vata dosha balanced.) So, regardless of what time I have to be somewhere, I allow myself this 3-hour window to touch in with the sacred.
Three hours?! Yes! My experience has shown that taking this time in the morning at an unhurried pace grounds me and sets the tone and my intention for the rest of my day. If I miss this period in the morning, I'm spending a lot of the day in a harried and scattered way. Not worth it!
The biggest challenge comes when I'm traveling and it isn't feasible for this routine to work. I can maybe go a few days out of routine before the effects are really disturbing and when they are, I find the time as soon as possible in my travel day to rest, pray and meditate--re-grounding when I'm flighty--sometimes literally.
I've also found that taking breaks midday, while challenging to remember and do, help settle and restore my clarity and intention. Sometimes it's a matter of taking 5 deep breaths, or stepping outside and resting in nature for a few moments.
The consistency in my practice does become more challenging the more varied my schedule is, but it is such an important part of my day--of my life--that I prioritize it and build it into my schedule. That is because it feels so good when doing it and it makes the rest of my day go so much better.
How about you? When is the best time in your day for your spiritual practice? How long does your practice take? What does it consist of?