Personal Commitment: Month 3

July’s Review

Last month I examined my hesitancy to follow my own conscience. The nature of a conscience is that I’m not likely to be pricked by it, unless I am otherwise headed in an incorrect direction and need to be righted. But then, with any course correction, there is going to be friction. I have to overcome the resistance and pull into doing what I feel is right. Sometimes I succeed at that, sometimes I do not.

And something I have definitely noticed this month is that following one’s conscience is a spiritual muscle. Sporadic, occasional use is not enough to build strength. Regular, daily practice is the only way forward.

Overall I do feel that I improved. I followed my conscience far more this month, just by having that intention to do so. As I did so, I found a phrase that helped me a great deal in moments where I knew what I was feeling to do, but I didn’t know why doing it mattered.

“You don’t have to understand.”

Part of being guided by the spirit is acknowledging that most times you just aren’t going to know why it matters to do what you’re feeling to do. That’s why it’s called an act of faith. But doing it on faith is something one has to get used to. We’ve been trained our whole lives to think things through, to weigh pros and cons, and to be sure of what we do before we do it. And in general, that is a good practice to follow. But when it comes to the urgings of the spirit “you don’t have to understand.”

August’s Commitment)

This last month has been difficult, though, for maintaining healthy habits of self-care (exercise, meditation, getting enough rest, etc). My wife and I have been getting our home ready to sell and my team had a frantic deadline to meet at work. Thus far I’ve been able to keep pace with those new demands, but at the expense of a proper life balance.

At first I had this notion that it was alright to have things temporarily disrupted, but as that “temporary” period has grown longer and longer, I have come to realize that I need a way to find my balance even in the midst of everything else. I cannot just power through this, waiting for it to be convenient to be healthy again.

August is looking to be a very busy month as well, and so I want to come into it with a solid plan. It’s been a little tricky to come up with that. I don’t want to balance things out by trying to cram more stuff into already overflowing days. And I don’t feel that the solution is to give up on our efforts to move out of our house. We are stepping into a new phase of life that feels right, something that we should be doing.

What I’ve come up with for now is to be more deliberate with my time. When I am packing boxes I could be listening to scriptures on my phone. I could practice mindfulness, even in the act of tucking belongings into their corners. I could try to coordinate with my wife so that we do our work in the same room and are able to chat with each other.

I want to take my previous commitment for two-hour grounding exercises, and at the close of each exercise I want to state my intention for maintaining balance in the next two hours. That is my commitment for August. Come back on the first of September to see how it turned out.

Thank you.

Personal Commitment: Month 1

May’s Review)

One month ago I shared a commitment to limit the role of media in my life. I started things off by drawing a very clear line in the sand, with specific activities marked as too indulgent, and others as permissive under the right conditions. It definitely helped to have such clear expectations, though I also tried to leave things open to just following my conscience in each moment’s decision.

Something that I learned from the whole process was the power of affirmative goals, as opposed to negative ones. Stacking upon myself a list of “shalt nots” made it feel like living with a tense grip that was difficult to maintain. On the other hand, making the same commitment, but while using positive verbiage instead of negative, made for a drastically different experience.

For example, saying “I won’t have any more unbounded media-browsing sessions on my phone” felt harder to follow than saying “When I do browse media, I will approach it with a clear intention for where I will go and for how long.” The first approach restricts me with things that I will not do, the second empowers me with things that I will do (live with intentionality).

As a result, I really have felt far less of a slave to my devices for the month of May. Admittedly there was a time where I missed playing games on my phone, so I installed a new one and then started spending way too much time on it, and there were times where I caught myself having to Google every little question that came up in my head when I was supposed to be working…but really my life has been the clearest and freshest it has been in a long while.

I am going to keep up with this commitment, but also start implementing a new one in the month of June.

June’s Commitment)

For this new commitment, I am trying to address a longstanding issue of “there are so many good things that I am supposed to do that I get discouraged and end up not doing any of them at all.”

But not only this, there is another practice of mine that I am going to work on, too. Every couple hours an alarm goes off on my phone, telling me to pause and ground myself. I check-in with how I’m really doing, say a little prayer, and renew my commitments for the day. And that sort of works, but it also tends to become routine and insincere after a while.

So I’m solving these two problems with each other. Every two hours the alarm will still go off, but there is no set ritual for how to ground myself. I will choose what to do in the moment, based entirely on what I feel I need right then.

My hope is to take that overbearing list of things I should be doing, and turn it into a buffet of things to enjoy at my leisure. Am I feeling hungry for some prayer? Or scripture study? Or meditation? Or to review some affirmations? Or to check in on a friend? Or to go on a short walk? Great. Just so long as it feels sincere, and not routine.

Some basic things like prayer and scripture study will still remain as fixtures for the first thing in my morning and the last thing at night, but in between I will try to enjoy giving myself what I need as I need it, and not feel guilty about not doing the things that I didn’t need. I’ll let you know how this went at the start of July.

Thank you.