The Benefits of Routine
We as a culture fear boredom. For this reason we fill our lives with so much activity, we don't get a chance to breath. We become human doings rather than human beings. We are constantly carting our kids around to endless activities. Children are loaded up with useless homework even at six years old. In our culture we have become like a bunch of spinning tops in a pinball machine. This is nutty.
This began to make sense to me when I started assisting a Tibetan Lama. I saw how he lived his life and was impressed with his dedication to routine. He would rise at 5am, bathe, and do puja(practice) until 11:00am. He would have lunch and then relax for the afternoon. After dinner he would do puja again before going to bed. He used to tell jokes in pigeon English about how silly westerners are because they are so busy all the time.
One of the concepts in Buddhism is called, "leisure to practice". This is an unknown concept in the West. I realized that when I have a routine, even as simple as that morning cup of coffee and a check on Facebook, the news, and my favorite blogs I receive immense pleasure and a sense of peace. It also helps me to feel grateful and relaxed.
Children also benefit from routine. Before bed routine makes children feel safe and settled which enables them to fall asleep, preferably around the same time every night. I am grandma to Iris all day every Monday. When she sees me in the morning she asks me for cooked cheese(recipe available) and peanut butter sandwiches. Then she asks for the IPad and we play games or watch a movie on Netflix. We do these activities together and discuss them as we do them. She is watching Strawberry Shortcake as I type. We do this routine every Monday. This routine connects us.
Routine does not bring boredom or monotony. It brings pleasure and a sense of safety. One of the most important parts of our routine should be rest time and play time, especially if we are adults. We avoid quiet time because we fear ourselves. As Mary Karr says, "The mind is a dangerous neighborhood, don't go there alone." Learning that there is nothing to fear and that it is much more benign than we thought, sitting alone with ourselves, brings tremendous benefits and awareness. Sitting with ourselves in the quiet is a way to refuel and prepare for our Western busy-ness that inevitably comes.
Give it a try! Let me know how it goes...