July 10, 2022

Wasted Days & Wasted Nights: The Art of Spiritual Time Management.

 

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“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ~ Andy Warhol

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I used to complain that there just weren’t enough hours in the day, and I squandered my hours wishing that I had more time to do the things I loved instead of spending all my days doing just the necessary things.

Then I retired. Suddenly I had all the time in the world and couldn’t imagine how I would fill my days. I contemplated how much time I had left for my last big adventure and how I could best make use of my remaining hours. I worried that I didn’t have the time left to write my novel, to travel the world, and also spend every precious moment with my family.

I just celebrated the one-year anniversary of my retirement and wow, where did all that time go!?

I did travel to a few fun places. I did start a writing practice and I have created a few things that made me feel proud of myself. Fitting into the daily routine of my family and experiencing life up close and personal with my grandsons is a grandma’s dream.

But I still struggle with what to do with all my “free time.” Social media scrolling and Netflix binging are not fulfilling the expectations of my last big adventure.

And, of course, me being me, I had to break it all down and examine the problem—because, well, “The unexamined life is not worth living” according to Socrates.

Do I just have a problem with time management? My mom taught me that boredom is just a sign of a lack of creativity. Could it be that I am just not creative enough? Are the things I want to manifest in my life taking too long to arrive, or since time is a man-made concept, is it all unfolding as it should and I just lack the patience to wait for it? Chaucer said, “Time waits for no man,” so is time just running out for me while I try to figure this all out?

In my search for answers, I believe I have stumbled onto some ideas that will assist me with my spiritual time management skills, and I hope that you find them to be of benefit as well.

Maitri. It is never a waste of time to sit in silence for a while each day and learn the art of gentle loving kindness toward yourself. Why waste time beating yourself up and suffering from regret when you can learn to love yourself just the way you are without harsh judgment? Elephant Journal offers a great course on how to begin your maitri journey.

Create a bucket list. Literally write down what experiences you want to manifest using as much detail as possible. Get specific. Who, what, when, where, why. You have to know what you want to spend your time doing before you can manifest those things into your life. There is a whole series of 100 Things To Do Before You Die books with suggestions from the simple to the wild and crazy.

Set manageable, actionable goals. Again, be specific. Timelines and steps you can take to get you moving toward your dreams. Check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear if you need some help getting started. 

Actually take the steps. Even if it’s a tiny one each day. Do one thing that moves you forward. Google your dream destination and the best way to get there, what it costs, when the best time to travel is; get up an hour earlier and before you pick up your phone and start scrolling, sit at your desk or in your big comfy chair and write. Julie Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, suggests doing what she calls morning pages—three pages of free-flow words, or just write that first sentence of your great American novel even if it’s the wrong sentence. Just write another one the next day—maybe even advance to a whole paragraph. The point is to create a forward flowing energy. Really do something—anything!

Trust the process. Lori Hamann, creator of “The Manifestation 100” workshops, taught me that it’s a waste of time to worry about how much time it will take. Sometimes things happen in an instant, and other times change happens like a slow-moving train down the coast—your life is just happening right before your eyes and it’s up to you to be present and catch the moments. Another favorite author of mine, Jennifer Pastiloff, calls it beauty hunting in her best-selling memoir, On Being Human. You don’t just trust the process; you have to believe in it, because ultimately you are the process—which takes us back to the first suggestion of maitri (loving kindness toward yourself). 

Make it Fun. Who says managing your time and creating the life of your dreams has to be a struggle? Discover the awe in the everyday moments. Laugh at yourself as you dive into the deep end and splash everyone around you. Take a deep breath, look into the mirror and straight into the eyes of your childlike self, let go of the struggle, and just jump into that mud puddle, and get joyously dirty! Don’t remember how to play? Dr. Stuart Brown’s book, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, can show you the way. Or simply grab a nearby child (with permission of course) and let them show you the way to the playground of your soul.

“How can we resent the life we’ve created for ourselves? Who’s to blame, who’s to credit, but us? Who can change it, any time we wish, but us?” ~ Richard Bach

The time you have really is of your own creation. You just have to decide how you want to spend that precious time and get out there and make it happen!

“One life. Just one. Why aren’t we running like we are on fire towards our wildest dreams?” ~ Unknown

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