And the value there in . . .
If you haven’t yet typed out your Daily Schedule, there can’t be a better time to do it. It’s an old, old Zen teaching, but don’t let that bother you. It’s lasted through the centuries and you won’t be the first one to take it as your own. It’s what happens to good things.
Okay, begin with the time you plan to get from your bed each a.m. and then go on from there. Prayer? Before or after your shower and breakfast? Doesn’t matter, but get it down on paper and keep going. Job? Kids off the school? No two schedules will be alike, and yours will change with the seasons and years, but put down, in ‘black and white’ how you would like to have your good, ordinary life’s days spent. .
And before you complain, let me say that you’ll never be able to follow the schedule. There will always be a phone call. Someone at the door. A crying child. But you have, there in writing, what a good day would be. So, on those days when you feel like giving up, and before you start screaming, go to your schedule. It’s magic when needed, and is why the idea has lasted ‘forever’, and is even found in the hands of today’s therapists. It simply works.
Okay. So before you really get into a moody ole “Pity Party” and allow your entire day to be spent that way, go to your schedule and see what you planned to be doing at that exact hour of the day, and do it. Yeah, it might be the last thing in the world you want to do, but give yourself a big boot in the rear, and do it.
Doesn’t matter what it tells you to do. Maybe it says to sweep the porch and sidewalks, and if it’s winter, shovel the snow instead, but when that chore is finished, go see what your perfect day would have you do next, and do that, too. A planned schedule is a life saver for within less than an hour your day will be changed for the better.
It is good to have as a base for everyday life, but after a big life crisis, such as a new job, children leaving to go away to school, or to marry, or your job takes you to a new city. or neighborhood, or, yes, even when the sorrow of death claims a loved one and you stand by a grave site for your last goodbye, knowing life will be different from then on, go to your schedule and let the miracles begin.
I first found this magic potion in The Empty Mirror, a Zen book by Jan van Willem, about his four years spent in a Japanese Zen monastery. The schedule can seldom be followed hour by hour and is adjusted over the years, but when life is broken or interrupted in some manner, go silently back to it and all will be well.
This daily plan was conceived and taught unknown centuries ago, and perhaps is needed more today than when first spoken. Who knows, but there is peace to be found when we tread a familiar pathway. I’ve passed the idea along many times in my classes and it’s been welcomed and used. Simply because it works.
The familiar routine, brings calmness, serenity, and healing to a restless, weeping heart. Yes, changes come, but good days will also come, and in doing so, God lets us know that, as the old hymn says, “All is well, all is well”.
Once, filled with confusion and anxiety, I turned to my schedule and found it was time to go to my room, close the door and meditate. Laughing, I followed my own words, did just that, and realized that even my laughter helped me know that all was well again. And so it was and still is. And so be it.