At the Full Moon Urban Retreat we had a really wonderful conversation about the difficulty of sustaining a daily practice. It’s true that we’re shaped by the things we do consistently. All of the good things – meditation, healthy eating, creative work, exercise – take regular practice to have an impact.
But creating a routine we’ll stick with can feel impossible. And it’s easy to get bogged down by the sheer number of things we think we should be doing and throw up our hands in defeat before even getting started.
Many of the women at the retreat spoke about their desire to let go of regimented routines and instead to decide what they need on a day by day basis.
Some of us expressed the need to stick with a regular daily practice because otherwise there are important things that would slip through the cracks and we’d never end up doing them.
I think that creating a daily practice that’s realistic and nourishes every part of us is important, as long as we allow for a certain amount of fluidity and check in with ourselves regularly to honour how we're feeling and take care of what we need on that particular day.
With the new year in front of us, I’ve been inspired to revisit and refresh my own routines and rituals, so today I’m offering some tips for sticking with your daily practice and infusing your schedule with practical magic.
Decide on the Pillars of Your Practice
I loved reading Choose Yourself and while James Altucher’s daily practice is more extreme than feels good for me, I modelled my own on the same pillars he discusses. In addition to the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical components Altucher discussed, I’ve incorporated consistent action towards my big dream (self-employment, financial freedom, & location independence) into my daily practice.
Create Bite-Sized Rituals
Once you’ve decided on the pillars that your daily practice will be based on, spend some time brainstorming all of the ways that you could nourish those parts of your life.
But recognize that you can’t do everything, so narrow your list down to the things that will have the biggest impact through regular practice. I also took my core desired feelings into account, to make sure that I was creating a daily practice that would bring me into better alignment with how I want to feel.
I suggest choosing things that can be completed in 10 minutes or less, so that you’ll be able to work them in each and everyday no matter what else is going on. For example, running around the block might be part of your daily practice and you can schedule longer runs into your week as time allows. The key here is figuring out what you can do consistently.
Carve Out Time
Be realistic about how much time you have and where each part of your practice will fit into your day. Can you get up half an hour earlier or are you just not a morning person? What about giving up an hour of TV in the evening? Or finding some quiet time for reflection over your lunch break? Work all of this out in the planning phase so that your daily practice fits into your life and becomes routine.
Experiment and Edit Your Practice
Some things will work for you and become habits for life. Other times you might feel like your daily practice has become stagnant or, after months of trying, you just don't get what all the hype over meditation is about. Allow yourself to revisit your practice regularly. Experiment with new things you've heard about. Let go of things that aren't enhancing your life. A daily practice can be fluid and should evolve as we do.
Practice Kindness Towards Yourself
It's inevitable that our routines will get disrupted. We'll miss our meditation practice, skip a workout, or go an entire day without eating our vegetables. It's important to get back on track but no good ever comes from beating yourself up. When life gets in the way and you miss your daily practice, be kind to yourself. Gently remind yourself why the practice is important to you and resolve to get back to it tomorrow. And then let it go, without the the guilt.
After going through this process, here’s what my daily practice for 2015 looks like right now…
Everyday I’ll nourish my spirit by meditating and giving thanks for the good things in my life.
Everyday I’ll nourish my body with warm lemon water, green smoothies, 10 minutes of stretching, and dancing wildly to at least one song (that last one actually fits into all of these categories).
Everyday I’ll nourish my mind by exercising my idea muscle and reading for at least 10 minutes.
Everyday I’ll nourish my emotions by connecting with the people I love and honouring my feelings by expressing them in the pages of my journal.
Everyday I’ll nourish my big dream by spending at least 10 minutes working on a digital product for this website.
I look forward to experimenting with other forms of rituals and self-care, but for now I'll be using this daily practice to take care of myself, attract my desires, and create the feelings I want.
Do you have a daily practice or do you prefer a more fluid approach to self-care? I'd love to hear!
Download the Daily Practice Tracker!
Click below to download the Daily Practice Tracker to keep track of how you're nutruting each of the pillars of your daily practice and to figure out what practices work best for you.
Photographs by Julia Pogodina.