On Routine / by ABMann

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On Routine.

It’s been about a month now since I changed my morning routine and I think it is going swimmingly. Most of you that are reading this are aware of the early-morning handwriting practice but that is only one of a few things I’m doing in the morning important to me.

For the last ten years my morning routine looked like this:

wake up around 6
hit snooze for too dang long
run to the shower
get dressed
go to work
This was, effectively, starting the day with a stress hormone bath. I would sort if ease into the work day by starting with email and coffee/breakfast from work’s cafe but that’s still vaguely stress-inducing.

It was, I think, causing my brain to maintain unnecessarily high rates of stress. Enough that I grind my teeth in my sleep, wake with tension headaches and be a generally less valuable human all around.

That needed to change.

My new routine looks like this:

alarm at 5am
glare at Ginger for meowing at me for not immediately getting up (seriously, she vocalizes at me if I don’t get up immediately [to feed her])
(feed cats)
make coffee
handwritten journal about the last day, dreams, things that occurred to me while making coffee (about a page)
penmanship practice
meditate (5-15 minutes depending in how crazed my brain is that morning)
shower

…. Then I enter into the same point with previous routine and get to work around 7. Much calmer. I get to work much calmer.
In reflection I think this routine change, in a line of attempted routine changes, worked because it hits a few sweets spots of desired activities for me. I get to adopt a new skill (penmanship), introspect (journaling), enjoy solitude (meditation). I suspect the semi frequent positive reinforcement from meditative Oneness helps too but all the actives work in tandem way better than previous attempts at, say, exercising immediately.

Not to say that isn’t a good way to start the day - when I was running regularly (and it wasn’t painful any more) I did that too with great success. The biggest potential flaw in the exercise routine is the Gorram Winter. This one can be done in Winter through liberal use of programmable thermostats.

I also believe that this change in routine and the subsequent increase in general calmness has lead to some other things: increased productvity, better diet control, decreased alcohol intake, an improved sense of well being.

So, it’s been good.

Now, if my handwriting would just get better faster.

Picture: this is the iPad app Scape from Brian Eno. It’s a generative music app I use to help me meditate. I’m not so good at dismissing thought as I used to be when I first meditate in junior high.

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