My life changed when I read The Power of Habit sometime in 2012, since then I’ve been dutifully making my bed every morning when I wake up. When life is full of chaos, it is comforting to have something that is enduring and unchanging.
Over the years I have been incorporating daily habits on and off. The most consistent ones are reading and writing 750 words. But even those were not infallible as I coped with major changes in my life. I could argue that it is precisely in times of major change that I should stick to my habits.
Recently I broke my 50-day streak of meditating everyday. It wasn’t conscious, I completely forgot about it. The next day when I woke up and remembered it, I went into a tiny state of panic, before thinking how can I sort of cheat to make it up. Should I meditate twice to make up for the day before?
In parallel I’ve been reading on zen, and it didn’t take too long for me to realise that it was deeply ironic that I was obsessed with a streak on meditating.
There and then in that moment, I let it go.
There was a time while living in SF, I felt uncomfortable with not travelling. I was so in love with the city that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. A friend kindly told me that there are seasons. There is a season to be home, and a season to travel. Somehow the concept of seasons stuck with me since, but I didn’t fully grab hold of it.
I love the idea of daily discipline, because I am undisciplined. Before reading The Power of Habit my life was a mess. Upon moving back to Singapore in 2015, it was swimming every day that saved me. Stoically rain or shine I swam.
But I became pretty sick this year with hormonal issues, and it came to a point when I became depressed because I just didn’t have it in me to be stoic anymore. I couldn’t practice my daily habits, and my judgmental inner critic berated myself endlessly.
I had to track my hormonal cycle on a calendar, and slowly I learned to see the patterns of my body. With that clarity I came to an understanding that perhaps I cannot be over-zealous on my daily practice anymore, because it was causing me to suffer. It was one thing to be sick, and another thing to blame myself for being sick and undisciplined.
I had to surrender to the concept of seasons again. That there will be weeks in a month when I will be functioning, and then there will be weeks when the only thing I can do is to be with my pain.
Co-incidentally today I read in a zen book that we have to be thankful for pain, because that means our body is still alive, it is when we no longer feel pain that our body has given up.
So this is where I am. I’m trying to understand the seasons of my body, to try to be equanimous with the suffering of my body instead of being resentful about it.
I feel like I am only beginning to learn how to co-exist with myself peacefully, to not be in discord and incoherence with myself. Water bends round the rocks and gently polishes them.
I still try to practice daily, but when I can’t I let go, just like how trees do so in autumn.