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Disrupt Routines, Break the Mold, and Reclaim Energy to Live Your Life More Fully

Mar 25, 2008
The routines of our lives are an amazing source of energy, energy that is bound up in a dull cycle of illusion. It is time to wake up. It is time to live a joyous life where each moment stretches to an infinite expression of divine bliss. Sound good? Then let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Every moment spent in routine is a moment spent unconscious. When we look at our lives as an expression of divine consciousness, then every moment of routine is a moment wasted, an opportunity missed to truly experience ourselves as God/Goddess.

We fall into routine because that is what we are taught. We are trained to look away from our greatness, we are modeled mediocrity and dullness, and we are force fed a diet of perceived scarcity and fear. The result is we look for sameness and stability in our lives, sacrificing the incredible mystery of this lifetime for the pale illusion of security. We are promised safety if only we will conform, do the right thing, follow the rules, be a good student/friend/mother/father/member of society. But security is a false promise driven by the fear of the unknown, and ultimately the fear of our own death.

How do we bring joy back into our life? How do we break the mold of seeking external validation and embrace the mystery at the core of our being? The place to begin is where we act out basic routines in our life. They sap our energy and dull our consciousness. Breaking these routines enhances our awareness, brings us fully present in each moment, and ultimately allows us to come to a place of true choice. It is a good first step in becoming capable of consciously embracing whatever is arising in our lives and living it fully, aware and awake to the fact that everything in every moment is God expressing herself in infinite variety and beauty.

Look closely at your life. Most people get up at the same time every day, go through the same morning grooming ritual, make the same breakfast, drive to work the same way, talk to the same people day in and out, drive home the same way, eat dinner at the same time, zone out in front of the TV, brush their teeth and go to bed. They spend their weekends in the same kinds of places, pay their bills at the last minute each month, call their parents once a week/month, and dread tax time every year.

What most people fail to recognize is that every great moment they can remember came as a surprise; something unexpected happened, and the impact of the unexpected affected them more in one moment than a whole year of living the "good life" ever could. We gloss this fact over, pretending that our control mechanisms are keeping us safe. We "tick-tock" through life like zombies in a dream, waiting for the day when it will all change, yet never releasing enough control to truly change anything.

Then suddenly one day we are dying, it all comes to an end, and we are stuck in fear of the unknown in our last moments, finally forced into an understanding that we have no idea what is going to happen next, and we never did.

Breaking routines is a simple practice, but as with all good spiritual practices it is not so easy to accomplish. Truly bringing awareness to each moment is a daunting task, when faced with the fact that most of us are unaware for most of the day. The important thing is to start somewhere, and to start with something simple. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand for a week. Set the alarm for five minutes earlier or later each day. Practice fluidity in getting ready for work: make it happen in five minutes one day and stretch it out for an hour the next. Drive to work a different route every day.

There are an infinite number of ways to break routines. Look at your own life and get creative. Slowly but surely go after every habitual place in your life, seeking presence and awareness in everything you do.

The ancient Toltec of Mexico called their system of breaking routines "not doings" because it often has you "not doing," or doing the opposite of what you habitually do. At Spiritual Integrity we offer spiritual life coaching, drawing on tools and practices from Toltec and other shamanic traditions. Below are some suggestions we offer for different levels of not doings. Look at your life and see which ones are most appropriate for you, and do them. Reclaim the energy and awareness you need to connect more deeply every day.

Beginning Not Doings

o Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
o Eat with your non-dominant hand.
o Change your route to work every day.
o Get up at different times and go to bed at different times.
o Eat at different times each day from when you normally do.
o Walk around your house backwards as you do your normal routines.

Intermediate Not Doings

o Do a one-day water or juice fast once a week.
o Don't talk about your personal history at all for a week (no stories about the past and no reminiscing about the past with other people).
o Go into silence for a day.
o Do not verbalize any judgments or opinions for a week.

Advanced Not Doings

o Spend an entire day focusing on the spaces between things as you move through the world.
o Spend a day focusing on shadows instead of where light is hitting.
o Take one hundred totally conscious breaths as you move through your day (not all at once). If you lose count then start over at one.
o Turn every judgmental thought about another person or event into a two-minute exercise of appreciation and gratitude for other aspects of them.

As always set up specific parameters for what you are doing and limit it to a structured amount of time. Evaluate how it went at the end of the time period and adjust what you want to do next. Take note of changes in the amount of awareness, energy, and peace you have as a result of the practices. Most of all, have fun with all your experiments.
About the Author
Raven Smith is dedicated to sharing powerful shamanic tools to help you live your purpose. He is a mentor in the Eagle Knight lineage of don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. Raven co-authored Spiritual Integrity and runs Spiritual Integrity Coaching with Heather Ash Amara. He also wrote The Recapitulation Workbook. Get more heartfelt inspiration from Raven.
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