Daily Practices (That I Do and Don’t Practice)

Annually, this is the time of year that I find myself making resolutions.  Despite being completely not on board with New Year’s lifestyle changes, there’s something about late spring/early summer that makes setting personal goals a lot more natural.

Looking to the future just happens a lot more organically when the weather is beautiful and the anxiety of university has dissipated.

So in the spirit of a lifestyle adjustment, I’ve been thinking about this idea of daily practices.
Specifically, practices I wish I had, practices I’m glad I do have, and practices that I would like to let go.

Because when I get down to it, I feel like people (myself included) go back and forth between wishing they had more time for themselves and killing the extra time that they do have.  I’d like to think seriously about approaching some middle ground, where I can devote time to the habits I want to have and the goals I want to accomplish, instead of thinking I don’t have enough time for these things when so much of my time is spent kind of mindlessly.

Daily Practices I want:

  • Meditation: Can I just state the obvious? Meditation is hard. I have a very hard time getting my mind to shut up quieting my mind and an even harder time staying still. But the feeling you get after meditation is really amazing, like your brain is numb and echoes inside.  Apparently it takes about 10 minutes to get into the brain space of meditation- a brain space similar that takes hours to attain via deep sleep- so I’ve meditated both of the past two days for fifteen minutes. The first day was much easier than the second, when I kept readjusting my position and getting distracted, making plans, etc.
  • Yoga: I love yoga but I don’t think I’ve done it daily for more than a few weeks or a month at a time.  But like meditation, it really ‘cleans’ your mind (plus helps with flexibility and strength!).  I can do crow pose. I have an excellent downward dog. But damn I want to be able to do a yoga handstand.  Although I think one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve been given involving yoga is that yoga isn’t something you ‘achieve’ when you finally ‘perfect’ a pose.  Yoga is the attempt. The journey, rather than the destination, if you will.
  • Dry brushing: Dry brushing your skin is really good for your circulation and also an excellent way to exfoliate.  It’s really invigorating and don’t judge me until you’ve tried it.
  • Time outside: The great outdoors! I want to spend some time every day gardening or walking or at least reading outside, even when it gets to be the hottest its going to get this summer (it will probably be over 100 here is New England).  You know the Japanese concept of ‘forest bathing’? I fully agree with it.  Being around nature is very equilibrating.

Daily Practices I do have:

  • Eating healthfully: I know this is something a lot of people struggle with, and my history of anorexia and obsessive tendencies mean that I struggle too, though generally in a different way than most Americans.  The food that I eat is as a rule well-balanced and healthy. The goal is to balance the amount that I eat with the amount of energy that I expend. And to not get too obsessive about everything being as healthy as possible (orthorexia). On that note, I had a square of Gianduja soy chocolate today. Thank you, Sjaak’s!
    So why did I put this in the list of things I succeed at? Because eating is a lot less of a stressor than it used to be, and I am rightly proud of that, and of eating healthfully and sustainably.
  • Sudoku and crossword: A daily practice since ninth grade- this one is going on eight years.  It’s soothing and a good way to warm up your brain for the day ahead (even while you’re still in pajamas and slippers and a bathrobe).
  • Writing: more or less thanks to this blog, I’ve started writing daily.  I feel more creative and more in touch with my ‘inner voice’ (eew, did I really write that?).  And like a lot of other daily practices, it’s something I feel proud to accomplish and dedicate energy to.
  • Reading: Since I learned to read, I’ve been a big reader. And before that, I was a big listener to books being read aloud.  Books help you empathize, escape, and understand. They expand your vocabulary and knowledge.  I do sometimes have breaks between reading material, or breaks within reading material (Vanity Fair guys, it’s sooooo looooong) but on the whole, I don’t imagine reading ever not being part of my usual activities. For me, it’s just a very rewarding thing.
  • Standing: I stand all the time. Apparently it’s good for you.

Things I should spend less time on:

  • Computer use: Time on the computer is really the main thing I need to cut down on.  Checking Facebook and email as a palliative to anxiety or the feeling of being at loose ends… end less scrolling. I can fool myself into thinking it’s worthwhile or useful but I’m really just retreading things, looking for a distraction.  Computers are great for some things and there’s no denying that they serve as a portal to wonders beyond measure, but I want to spend more time being an active part of my world, and less time being a passive observer of the world online.
  • Consumerism: There’s something about having things and getting things that feels really instrumental to the way the human mind (at least my human mind) works. It feels like if I can have things I can be reassured- it gives me a sense of security.  But I want to get more used to being around things and not wanting them, feeling safe and comfortable with what I have.  Knowing that I can feel more myself if that’s not diluted by a lot of extraneous objects.  I want to better differentiate between what I want and need, and get more out of less.

I think that’s enough, but there’s bound to be more.

And I’m not quite sure how I can mock New Age wellness trends and the woo woo-ness of it all and then turn around and post something like this (the benefits of forest bathing! Dry brushing! Meditation!).  But just because wellness has started to run amok (trend, I guess they say), that doesn’t mean there aren’t some aspects of it that are valuable and should be incorporated into one’s life.
In other words, I still think crystals are fake news. Detoxes need to get out of my face. Smoothies are not meant to be green (but hey, you do you). Infrared saunas sound weird.

But I still want to adapt my day so that it does more for me, to make better use of my time so that I do more of the things I have always regretted not having the time for, and fewer of the things that drain my days away.

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