Monks know that their time and presence is the most valuable currency they have.
They’re constantly in touch with a truth that the modern world often forgets: how we spend our time is how we spend our lives.
All too often, the way we spend our time is disconnected from the vision we have for our life. In any given moment, we can feel overwhelmed by it all. So many choices, so many thoughts, so many feelings—all clamoring for a reaction. And so we react. Sometimes poorly, sometimes inadequately, sometimes half-heartedly. We give the important people and events of our life scraps of our attention, while enabling distraction to consume us.
At the end of the day, this makes us feel lousy. We may guilt-trip ourselves and blame our lack of discipline. Or maybe we just throw in the towel, exhausted to the bone. But what we might not realize is that our instinctual knee-jerk reactions have less to do with discipline, and more to do with a lack of awareness. Discipline itself is a fruit of awareness—which then leads to the joyful practice of intentional living.
When we live intentionally, we are choosing to be conscious of the bigger picture, and how each decision we make contributes to it. This type of awareness provides us with more direction, more peace, and more understanding of our actions — and as a result, more control of our reactions.
The more we are able to zoom out on our lives, the more we are able to live intentionally. After all, intentionality is intimately tied to the deepest questions of our life. As we connect to these questions with more conviction and honesty, we’ll find that our actions are more authentically aligned to how we truly want to spend our most precious resource: our time.
WAYS TO INCORPORATE THIS PRACTICE
Slow down • Trust the process • Eliminate distractions
Build the habit of planning your daily priorities and schedule the night before so you wake up ready to begin your day.
After you plan your week, look at each commitment, and ask yourself: “Is this really essential to what’s important to me?” If the answer is no, cancel it.
Draw a line down your Monk Manual daily schedule. Block out how you plan to spend your time and with what activities on the left hand side. As you live out your day track how your time was actually spent on the right hand side. At the end of the day look back and see what you learn.
“Discipline itself is a fruit of awareness - which then leads to the joyful practice of intentional living.”
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