A Spiritual Path Is About Starting All Over Every Day


I was trying to come up with a relevant topic for this post. I wasn’t sure what to pick or where to start. I didn’t write for so long: what to say? Should I explain myself? Defend myself? Come up with justifications?

Today I had an interaction with one of the participants of the 100 Day Warrior. He confessed to a slip in his discipline: he drank a couple of glasses of alcohol this week. I responded with something like: well, a spiritual path is mainly about starting all over every day. I remember that being a big insight for me. I thought that meditation was meant to bring me to a higher state of consciousness, some special elite mind state. But that hasn’t been true for me. What I did find was that every day is a new start; every day is a blank canvas. Actually, a day is already too big a unit to work with. We can start all over again in every moment; every moment is a blank canvas waiting to filled with the experience of the here and now.

The last two weeks a flue got the best of me. And although I wasn’t terribly sick it took a very long time before my energy level was back to normal. Actually, it still isn’t. This is my 16th day with a headache, for example. But what is more confronting is to see how a little virus also affects discipline and self-esteem and how easy it is to create a negative spiral. My brain worked so slow and I was so tired that I only could work a couple of hours per day. Because my blog is ‘extra’ it was one of the duties that were sacrificed first. And before you know it, it is hard to pick up the discipline again. The same goes with going to the gym and eating healthy: I had no energy to train and there came a point where I dropped my diet because I felt too tired to cook but also because I felt sorry for myself for being sick and at one point told myself ‘why eat so healthy if you ain’t even training?’

Now I am starting all over, just like I advised one of my participants. I just finished my chicken and vegetables, I went to back into the gym yesterday and today I am picking up writing. Tomorrow morning I will add a new challenge to my daily routine: I will start meditating daily in my new zendo and I will open it up for people who work in the same building.

I feel quite vulnerable, I admit. Chances are I will sit alone in my zendo and nobody will show up. Or people will come for a while and then stop because it is not for them (or they prefer yoga or running or spending time with kids or newspapers or any other legitimate reason). But that should not affect me. Deep down I know what is good for me and I also know that by sharing my meditation practice others can benefit too. Commitment, discipline, responsibility, loneliness, rejection and failure: taking on a daily task like this feels quite risky and unappealing to my ego (who rather feels safe and approved of). But then again, what did Aristotle say? ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit’ And although I might still have the habit to fall back into less constructive patterns I also have a habit of getting back up again and mustering up the courage to do what my ego fears. Not sure if it leads to excellence but I have seen how facing fears and starting anew have lead me towards kindness, humility, connection and authenticity every time. So let’s find out once more.

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