I had to wait to have a new chain fitted on my bike, so I took with me a Thay book from my bookshelf – that I haven’t read. It was called “Touching the Earth”, and just the first paragraph knocked me back. It described a ceremony in which people are supposed to forget the past and start anew. And I realised here was a mechanism (if I used it) that could have prevented my journey from stalling. From the first sentence of this book I could have been closer to the Path.
Beginning Anew, I must reject the bad habits the ill discipline I had let the politics and food drag me into. During my day what is the most important? Meditation. So why haven’t I prioritised it enough? Let’s take this morning. I stayed up late, and so already I had given up. I set the alarm in time for the motor-bike appointment. Then I was woken early by a phone call, lay there but didn’t sleep, then got up to do meditation – although I hadn’t slept well. Then I pottered and by the time I settled into meditation I only had 15 minutes. Luckily when I was having the chain fitted I knew that I had to begin anew, so I went home and meditated. Beginning Anew I knew that whole scenario was full of wrong priorities. Starting their days monasteries have it right. Get up, time to wash, and straight into meditation. No prevaricating about whether I slept well, get on the stool on time. Then there are small chores before breakfast followed by a meeting to decide on what is to be done for the day.
For years I got up on time for school, in later years including meditation, so why not apply discipline now? Meditation is priority, so time to wash then meditation before doing anything. And another favourite that stops meditation – blogging. When I have a shapeless day, I will wake up and lie there. Soon ideas will come, and maybe a blog. Then I say, if I blog now it will free my mind for meditation – and then I empty my mind of the blog only to find my mind is active. There are chores to do, and then …. too late for meditation, hungry, whatever. Even blogs are not priority over meditation. Use my meditation pad if there are blog ideas that come on shapeless days. No appointments, no blogs, no need for sleep after a late night, nothing before meditation.
In the evening beach meditation is going well. After lessons, straight on the stool. There is flexibility on other days, this is the same problem of shapeless day mornings – no structure. The monastery makes structure so the time to start is fixed. It has to be a priority. 7.00 pm, unless I am doing something then straight after.
Today was the first day this strategy finally worked although meditation has been much better. I remember a monk’s approach – he called it the Guaranteed Method. It amounts to this. Get on the stool at your defined time, set the alarm and stick to it. Do this every day no matter how you feel. Although I disagree much with this particular monk, on the above I don’t.
There are areas to review under “Beginning Anew”, but the underlying core is now fixed. If I deal with meditation and set it as a priority all will fall into place. How stupid it is that I allowed my journey to stall when the solution is so easy.
Beginning anew means bringing into question all that is part of my life. In many ways that is an ongoing process, but not always. I have setup a journal template. After meditation I will sit and see what is needed to be done for the day. Particularly on shapeless days sitting on the computer shapes the day, this is not good. Also much of the computer in terms of politics still passes me by, too many clips downloaded. too many websites to read. Having this journal process might start to get a grip of that. But to begin with it is just this template:-