Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Attachment to routine

I really identify with my dog on the subject of routine. Izzy just loves her routine. You can see the happiness on her face as she expects the next thing and then participates in it - her food at a particular time, then her medication, then leaving the house, then her walk, then going to day care, then doing tricks for the kennel manager and getting her treats, then being put in her run. I like my routine too. I do things in a certain order at home getting ready to come to the Center and then I do other things in a certain order after I arrive.

Lately, I've encouraged myself to vary that routine because it has become an attachment. I deliberately try to do something different just so I won't get so rigid. Lama Surya Das speaks to this in his book, Awakening to the Sacred:
We're all somewhat ritualized in our behavior. We wake up, walk the dog, take a shower, drink juice, drink tea, read the morning paper. What happens if we change the order of any of our little daily habits? If we allow our attachment to rituals to become too ingrained, these rituals can become addictive patterns and hang-ups. This will obscure the miraculous little spontaneous arisings that spring up like flowers along our way.

I recently spoke to someone who complained that her life felt empty and lonely; she spent so much time on her spiritual regimens that there was no time for friendship or personal relationships. So many hours of her day are taken up with meditation, shopping for her vegetarian diet, and doing yoga that there is no place for anything else. She readily acknowledges that she has become obsessively rigid about these activities, and in the process her life has become more and more narrow.

As soon as we become too ritualistic about anything, our priorities inevitably get all screwed up and form assumes more importance than essence. For example, instead of spending time with our children, we spend time nagging them to make sure that they and their rooms look a certain way. Openness, warmth, and love feel more sheltering and protective than mere spit and polish. In fact, as we get older, it seems to become increasingly obvious that, on all levels, it doesn't matter how things look from the outside.

So, we can be trapped in an attachment to anything - even a good thing. This is not to suggest that we throw in the towel on our disciplines. No, not at all. But rather that we can let it be okay if our routine is interrupted for some reason. We can train ourselves to appreciate the unfolding of events rather than be caught up in engineering them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

New policy: Anonymous posts must be signed or they will be deleted. Pick a name, any name (it could be Paperclip or Doorknob), but identify yourself in some way. Thank you.