Today Is A Good Day
I lived for several years at Great Vow Zen Monastery in northern Oregon and I saw many people under go a process of deep and fundamental transformation.
The simplicity of life at the monastery, the daily zazen (seated meditation), and the acceptance by the community was an incubator for deep transformation. At Great Vow people face themselves, grow in wisdom, and cultivate compassion.
I watched myself face fear, loneliness, insecurity, anger, and my own impermanence. I watched myself change in subtle and then profound ways. It happened all in this container of practice, of compassion, and of wisdom.
The schedule at Great Vow is unyielding in its regularity. Most days are exactly the same and yet none of them are. The schedule creates a backdrop that makes observing internal dynamics easier.
The schedule at the monastery mirrors an enlightened state of mind. The idea is to emulate the actions of an enlightened being. I’ve come to believe this works no matter what you want to be. If you start living it, you can actualize it.
Today Leads To Tomorrow
For a few months after I left the monastery I struggled to maintain the peace of mind I felt there. The world is full of distractions and it’s hard to maintain clarity. The only place it seemed easier was when I was exercising.
So I took up endurance sports and starting training for century rides and triathlons. When I was out on a long run or ride I felt free. I started to see that exercise, when practiced mindfully, helped me maintain the same sense of calm I felt at Great Vow.
That’s when I came up with the idea to start the Mindful Fitness Movement. I realized that even though I had left the monastery, I still wanted to help people transform their lives. I wanted to build a community and livelihood that would help me bring the monastery experience into the world.
But I had no idea how to turn this idea, this dream, into a reality. I’d never done anything like it in my life.
So I asked myself “If I were the pioneer and leader of the Mindful Fitness Movement what would my life look like? Who would I be? What would I do?”
What would tomorrow look like if my dreams came true today? The answer that came to me was so simple: I would live my perfect day. Not just tomorrow, but every day of my life.
My Perfect Day
Living the perfect day isn’t about avoiding problems. It’s setting an intention to live in accord with my vows, my dreams, and the life that resonates with my heart.
So I took out my electronic device and asked myself the following questions:
· What would I want my perfect day to have in it?
o Time with my partner
· What qualities would my perfect day have?
o Moments of Stillness
· What would I have to do everyday in order to sustain this life?
o Set goals
o Work diligently
o Focus on what’s important
Where To Begin?
Once I had my list I asked, “How would my perfect day start?
My best days had always started with attention, purpose, clarity and good coffee. So my perfect day would start with meditation, writing down my goals, and a cup of French press coffee.
After vows, I wrote down exercise. I like to exercise every morning and I know if I wait I’m better at coming up with excuses.
As my day took shape I felt my heart begin to race and a sense of ease came over me. As each line appeared on the screen my far away dream seemed more and more real. I couldn’t get there tomorrow, but I could move a little closer everyday.
Now that you’ve heard about my journey it’s your turn. You don’t have to change everything at once, but it’s so easy to take one step towards your perfect day today.
Use the questions I have above to start writing down your perfect day. Include things you have to do, but also things you love and want to do.
If you need to take things slow add one new element each week. In a couple of months you will be much closer to living your perfect day. It’s not about speed or perfection; it’s about consistency.
No matter what method you use, the essential thing is to begin today! The demon of time can eat our lives before we even know what happened. Your transformation has already started. It’s up to you to put in the small, subtle effort, that makes change possible.
You can start by commenting below and answering this one question:
What is one thing you would want in your perfect day?
If you need a template I have included my perfect day below. I don’t live my perfect day everyday, but I’m working towards it all the time. I’m also happy to offer you help or answer your questions via email or Skype.
I write everyday on Mindful Fitness Movement about how to support the vital work of transformation. I hope you will click on my Bio so we can start a conversation about how to support each other in walking this path. I also have a special offer for tinybuddha readers to help you get started today!
My perfect day
• I wake up and make a cup of coffee and talk to my partner
• I sit zazen for 25 mins
• I write down my goals and vows
• I go for a short run do a short yoga routine or go swimming
• I write a blog post
• I come home shower and eat a light healthy breakfast
• While I eat I read 2-3 blogs that inspire and educate me
• I review my tasks from a list of the most important things
• I complete one major task in the morning or make very good progress
• I have lunch with a colleague or friend
• After lunch I do one hour of study
• From 3-7 I meet with clients and groups, teach classes, etc
• I come home and shower
• I prepare and eat a healthy dinner while my partner and I share our day
• I spend 30 mins deciding what to do the next day
• I read a good book or watch an hour of good TV
• I brush my teeth and floss
• I meditate for 10 mins before sleeping
• I go to bed at a reasonable hour