Keeping a Discipline

It’s 9:17 Wednesday morning. I am sitting on the loveseat in my office, drinking a cup of coffee. I’ve already exercised, had my morning meditation, and gotten showered and ready for work. My office door is closed, the phone is on Do Not Disturb, my secretary knows not to interrupt me unless someone is bleeding or dying. My laptop sits with its familiar weight on my legs, and I am staring at this blank page, breathing in the silence and trying to hear what God is praying in me this moment.   Every week, this is my time to write. At least this once during the week, I will have the space and time to write. It feels like a huge gift.

It takes everything I have to keep boundaries around this space and time. There are many, many things on my “To Do” list. Many of them are important, a few of them are urgent, and some of them are in the category of “It would be nice to get this done this week but next week would be just fine.” They all call to me from the pad on my desk.   I can hear the phone ringing downstairs. I can hear my secretary saying, “She’s busy now but I can put you through to her voice mail.” The little light starts blinking on my desk phone. My cell phone vibrates. My computer tells me there’s another email.

It’s a little like this with early morning quiet time, too. I get up, make my morning tea and if he is home, my husband’s coffee. I take my cup and go to the chair where I like to sit in silence. Sometimes I read a poem. Sometimes I actively pray for friends and family, for the church and for the world. Occasionally I jot down a dream that has come during the night. Many times, I just sit in silence and sip. The cat starts whining; she wants me to take care of her. The little voices start in my head, “Don’t forget to call so and so. Check on that e-mail before your meeting this morning. Mail that birthday card. The counter needs straightening and you didn’t go through yesterday’s mail.   Make that deposit on your way in.”  I’ve learned to silence these voices, to tell them to back-off, to wait, that it’s not their turn right now. It’s mine. It’s God’s.

This discipline of deciding what is important, of setting the intention to actually give the important things time in my life and then putting the boundaries in place so that those things can happen, is not easy. It is a simple idea, yes, but not easy to activate. The world tugs at me, hard. I want to continue to learn how to stay centered and steady. I want to return to that place, that steady center regularly during the day. When my head is too full of “to do’s” and my heart is too full of the pain of life, it helps to go back to the silence, to my breath, and maybe even to my writing, and re-member what is real. I remember that the universe was designed to be in balance, and I am designed to participate in that balance.   I need to remind myself that the real life, the Source of Life, is below the surface of busyness and beyond anything that I might be involved in right now.   The culture is selling me a great big lie entitled, “More is Better”; the more I do, the more I have, the more I make, the more organized I am, the more I accomplish, the more __________________ (you fill in the blank) the happier I will be. I know it’s a lie.   We all do. And so, it’s back to the disciplines that bring balance and integrity. Back to the disciplines that remind us whose we are and who we are. Back to the disciplines that help us weed out and narrow down to what is most important.

Lent is always a good time to remember these things. What is most important in your life? What do you need to do in order to put that front and center in some disciplined way? What would you have to give up in order to make that happen? In yoga we say, “Let go of what doesn’t serve you and breathe in what does serve you.”   Discipline, literally meaning to be a disciple to “your Self”, or my translation, being a disciple to your Soul, to the seed of God that is within you, serves me, and in such a way that I can then serve others. I imagine it serves you in this way as well. It is a hard but vital thing.

Amy Sander Montanez