When Life Gets in the Way of Practice

Life is often turbulent, and the water gets rougher with each passing year. Some days it feels like there is no calm water, that there are only rapids, waterfalls, and hydraulics.

How do you practice when CHAOS screws up your day; or week; or month?

One thing that helps me is that my “maintenance practices” are rather short, so that even when life gets crazy, there’s really no excuse for me not getting them done.  These include:

  1.  ganpati kriya in the morning (11 minutes), followed immediately by the Five Tibetans (about 7 minutes);
  2. around midday I do sat kriya (4 minutes), pray (4 minutes), and some yoga or calisthenics of some sort (5 to 30 minutes);
  3. and kirtan kriya in the evening (12 minutes).

That probably doesn’t sound like much; in terms of “hard work” it isn’t. But it keeps me feeling good, fit enough, and healthy enough; enough for me.

Another thing that helps me is to prioritize my practices. I’m a stay-at-home dad, so maintenance practices come first, then household, writing, the mechanics of blogging (page design, etc.), research, and modeling (like statistical models).

Do first things first, and accept that last things can’t always be done today.

My daughter has had a headache since last Wednesday. As I write, we are at the emergency room at Children’s Hospital. This has definitely been a white water day: doctor appointment, chiropractor appointment, my own appointment, and now the ER. In between I’ve managed to fit in the maintenance practices, organize storage in the basement, and type this post in the waiting room.

Life isn’t all about getting things done. My daughter is much more important than any practice.  But the practices help me be a better father, and getting these small wins in the midst of chaos make me feel confident of a better tomorrow.

Practicing Through Depression

I struggle from time to time with depression.  Not clinical depression.  It doesn’t prostrate me, and usually doesn’t last long.  But when it takes me my discipline flags and I find it difficult to get things done.

I am a morning person, and generally feel more energetic and productive in the morning.  So I try to schedule my “brain work” in the morning and more mundane tasks in the evening. 

But lately I’ve struggled with that routine.  The morning goes by and I find I’ve got nothing “done,” even though I’ve been working.  Maybe I’m trying to do research for a post, or summarize a book, prep work that takes more time than a morning will allow. 

If several days go by without making a post (and lately there have been many), I have a growing sense of anxiety and disgust with my lack of productivity.  Moreover there is little I can point to by way of evidence to my wife that I have been working.  If the days of depression drag on long enough, they can put me in bed.

I’m a stay-at-home dad, so I have a number of mundane tasks around the house that I am responsible for.  When the black dog takes me, if I can keep myself moving by doing these more mundane tasks, then the accomplishment of them begins to shore up my self-esteem.  I grow confident again that I can in fact get things done.  And my wife has evidence that I have in fact been working, and not just staring at the television or talking with friends.

This week I am making an experiment with my routine and scheduling the housework in the morning.  By noon I should be done, and have the rest of the afternoon to work on the blog, confident that I have already got my housework done.

How do you fight through your depression?