I used to think it would be terribly status quo to do the same thing day in and day out – some present day torture resulting in a robotic, sad life void of meaning and vigor. But now, with aging eyes and dharmic direction, I see great freedom and joy in creating a daily rhythm, ordinary and relatively unchanging. Of course, our motivation must be well applied and properly set (otherwise a routine can become dry and numbing).
I’ve been thinking about my own simple daily routines lately and how they offer me nourishment and support throughout the day. My alarm is set to wake me up at 5:03am (yep, not 5:00, 5:03) Monday through Saturday (Sundays are my days to sleep in). Oftentimes, however, I wake up before my alarm goes off. After I get up I make some tea and drink slowly as I read by book light in the living room for 20-30 minutes (currently I am reading a book called Meeting Faith, Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun). I then set a timer, sing the morning chant (you can give a listen to my recording here http://openway.org/content/morning-chant), and practice sitting meditation for 20 minutes in the quiet stillness of the darkened early morning. I finish my sitting meditation with three prostrations to the earth, in which I offer a different gratitude with each one, followed by one final standing bow in which I say to myself:
“In gratitude for this one more opportunity to live today, may I be useful, may I be kind.”