The Rhythm in a Routine of No Routine

Of late, I am pursuing a routine of no routine. As much as I would like to do away with all artificial constructs of time,  the best I can do is settle into 24 hours, immersing myself in the amount of time most assured to me, a single day.

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Within these hours, I am not pushing, shaping, or molding a future outcome. Rather, I focus on the rhythm, the beat of the moment and what it requires. I cut up vegetables to put into scrambled eggs, slice ginger root for my daily tea.

There is also the daily revising of words, working a single sentence round and round only to realize its moment has not yet come—or has.

More and more I am aware of the flow in being. It is all but palpable. There is a rhythm in a routine of no routine, momentary and impermanent. Labels float by, never overstaying their welcome.

Often, it is only when I stray from the moment that I sense its flow. The past gives me a sense of the present. As Mark Nepo reminds, it is not that we stray from the moment that is important—that is part of being human—what is imperative is that we return to it.

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Regaining a sense of the present through the past is valuable but I have noticed it also opens the door for my ego. And as I recently discovered, my ego is like the Hydra, the mythological beast of many heads and thus, many voices.

Ego can take many different forms and shapes. It is like the hydra.

You cut off one head and another head replaces it.

You cut off that head and see a third head and a fourth head ad infinitum.

This is because in the manifest dimension, ego identity is the root of life, and if the ego identity is lost,

then life as we know it no longer exists.

It exists as light; life becomes light.

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Val Boyko introduced me to this metaphor in a post on her wonderful blog, Find Your Middle Ground. Far too often, I strike at my ego, as if I might actually conquer it once and for all.

In cutting off one head, I only create another.  As Val advises, what is the point of that? She reminds that the new ego may be even more deceptive.

It is a powerful incentive to float on the rhythm of a routine no routine, allowing the moment to reveal its rhythm. There are fewer heads, fewer strikes.

The rhythm of a routine of no routine encompasses body sensations as well as the emotions of the mind. They are signals, physical points of light. Their intensity varies but sometimes a signal is the total experience of the moment.

It is not for me to escape or suppress it. Like not cutting off the head of the hydra, I observe the sensation. It will only still if I sit with it. It is the well of energy available to me.

Some days, the bottom of the well seems close; other days, the well seems bottomless. Either way, if I sip and do not gulp, the available energy will sustain me.

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Every day, there are requirements that must be met for a routine of no routine is not without its responsibilities. If and how I meet those responsibilities depends on whether or not I sip to the moment.

If I take large gulps–as if to anticipate the day–I will be back at my well sooner and more often. These are days frenzied with energy, brimming with new Hydra heads. They are laid waste, unproductive and exhaustive.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of a routine of no routine is that it is available in every moment, as close as the next breath. It relies not upon expectation but upon showing up.

It is a rhythm in which the mind does not squeeze itself; the body does not constrict its vessels. Always, there is the breath that will release as well as renew.

There is no reason to cut off the heads of the Hydra. It is just as easy to allow them to nod to one another.  After all, they are my identity, the life I have as a human.

When I am without identity, I am light.  In this moment, I am human.


14 thoughts on “The Rhythm in a Routine of No Routine

    1. Aren’t we all, Kay? As I mentioned to Audrey, the hydra metaphor gives me a chance to step back–pause, if you will–observe the hydra for what they are, neither adding or subtracting. Of course, some moments seem to demand a head or two…. 😉


  1. In a post of many memorable lines, I particularly love “There is no reason to cut off the heads of the Hydra. It is just as easy to allow them to nod to one another.” As always, you provided an opening for me to return to my own present and sip during a day too filled with gulps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so easy to gulp, is it not? At least the remedy is always within our grasp. 🙂 The hydra metaphor helps me gulp less and sip more. After all, I am not called to battle. Thanks, Audrey!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I subscribe to living in a routine of no routine. I find I am much happier living in the moment each day. What a lovely way of experiencing life Karen. And I love your peaceful, poetic way of conveying it. 🙂


    1. I know you do, Karen, and I agree that a routine of no routine brings a consistency, peace even, to the day. And within that, I am finding productivity. Thanks, Karen.


  3. The should-dos jostle me all the time, bump me out of the present. I have always had a hard time writing down lists, those IOUs we write to the future, but they are there, whether written down or not. I will never get mindfulness down! But I will continue to stare up into the canopy of trees or watch spiders and live those moments with as much presence as I can.


    1. It seems mindfulness floats on impermanence, and in some moments, awareness is a canopy of trees or spiders. I do not think mindfulness is tidy. 😉 Thanks, Adrian!


  4. “A routine of no routine” is a wonderful practice of mindfulness and being present. Our egoic thoughts will rebel at the idea of doing nothing.
    What a great way to explore our inner landscape.
    Thank you for sharing the hydra metaphor. Its a powerful one for me as well.


    1. Thank YOU, Val, for introducing me to the hydra metaphor. It is one that stays, isn’t it? As for the ever rebellious ego, yes, it is and does. Mine is only to observe. 😉 Thanks for your thoughts, Val.

      Liked by 1 person

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