The woman who keeps 300 cats confined in her house. The guy who keeps smoking meth despite the three major strokes it has inflicted on him. The woman who buys another ceramic bunny despite the 10,000 already pushing against the ceilings in her tiny house. There are reasons why we do what we do some of which may not be known to us. For some people the day comes when they look around themselves and wonder, “How did this happen? What do I do now?” While the how may be obscured by layers of unperceived needs the what may be as simple as stopping, like refusing the next toke, refusing to pick up the next kitten and refusing to buy the next “must have” bunny! Unfortunately for people thus afflicted that refusal can bring other feelings to the fore which can cause them to become encased in a panic they seek to dispel by whatever means. Since simply stopping may not bring us the clarity we seek what else can we do to better understand the inner forces in our life?
Let’s start with the question, “How did we get to where we are?” While a journey is composed of one footstep after another every choice we make takes us somewhere. The unexamined journey can confuse us! No matter the various factors at work in how we live out our days what can help to determine our next choice is the practice of sitting for 20 minutes at the beginning of the day and asking ourselves, “What am I feeling today? How do I usually act when I feel this way? What usually happens when I act this way?”
My own spiritual development has shown me that the way in which I begin the day frames my awareness as I go through that day! If I get up and simply go into automatic mode (shower, eat, coffee, out the door) then I tend to be on automatic throughout that day. The decision to get up early enough to engage in that 20 minutes of reflection is not just a matter of setting the alarm clock! To get up early enough in the morning requires a decision the night before… going to bed early enough to enable me to get up earlier the next morning. Each choice that we make is framed by the choices we made just before.
Some of our actions are rooted in needs so deeply embedded that a mere 20 minutes of reflection won’t unravel them immediately. But as we develop the habit of reflecting then this technique becomes something like a silent program running in the background of our consciousness which can result at the oddest moments in those “AHA!” revelations! If we want to understand our life we have to work at it! It seems to me that 20 minutes is not too high a price to pay and is certainly much cheaper than kitties, meth or bunnies.