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.
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.
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.
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.