I’m not much one for new years resolutions, personally. I often make changes all throughout the year, and when something isn’t working, I make a shift. I’m also a sucker for routine, and I love love love having ritual and routines in my day…which is awesome in many ways, and also terribly hard to stop doing when that routine isn’t serving me anymore. A few months ago, I realized that an INSANE amount of my day was spent with my face in the computer – answering emails, doing research, patient charting, creating invoices, placing orders, reading blogs, editing writing submissions…so much so that I started to track it. Actually noticing every 15 minutes where I was and what I was doing with my time. And then I knew something had to shift.
Enter Prajnaparadha. In Ayurveda, the concept of prajnaparadha literally means “an offense against wisdom” or, mistakes in judgement. I see this as innately knowing what is right and knowingly doing the opposite. Obviously, this is a state of major resistance and a primary cause of dis-ease and imbalance that I see come up for people All. The. Time. Now, I’ve known about this concept for a few years, and a couple of months ago I started to see this word everywhere. (When it’s time to make a change, the universe just doesn’t let you ignore it). I can take a hint. So I stopped and reassessed.
Once we’re on a roll with our routines, it is extremely difficult to stop and make major (and even minor!) changes to our comfortable habits. But I did, and here’s what I noticed:
1. What makes me the happiest is spending face time with people, my partner and my furry animals at home.
2. What makes me happiest is being outside, working in the garden, going hiking/camping, seeing my family and exercising my body.
3. What makes me the happiest is having daily practices and rituals, like yoga, coffee and tea time, meditation and alone time with good books and learning new things.
4. What makes me happiest is having time to cook good food from start to finish and sharing it.
5. What makes me most unhappy is not doing any of these things.
I started to notice that I was only doing my happiest things when I had 10 or 15 minutes to spare occasionally, maybe three times a week. My time had been so consumed with saying “yes” to so many things and not managing my time well that I was knowingly going against my better judgement and not allowing time for better balance. So I’m making the intention to change some things (which is way harder than I thought). I felt like I was literally giving myself a kick in the pants to let some things go and start better routines and habits. It is seriously alarming how hard it is to change my routine – I have so much ingrained resistance and fear that if I let too many things go, my business would suffer or I would be letting people down somehow. Obviously, upon even a speck of reflection, that was all a story in my head. All of the things I’m doing I actually do love doing – I just didn’t have enough of a balance to make it feel like a healthy routine.
So I reassessed again, and here’s what I decided:
1. I will readjust my work schedule to have 2 full days per week to devote entirely to writing, researching, finishing notes and charts and catching up on emails. This will help funnel all of that work into scheduled, intentional time.
2. I will become a little more impervious to the expectations of replying by email. I will reply within a week, not within a day (emergencies excluded).
3. I will keep one weekend every month free and plan absolutely nothing.
4. I will spend at least 45 minutes every day reading something awesome/inspirational/magical/intriguing that’s not on a computer screen.
5. I will put aside some time (be it 5 minutes or 30 minutes) to sit quietly and meditate, drink tea, and be present every morning before I start the day.
So these are major changes that I started about 2 months ago, slowly working them into my new routines and rituals. Suddenly, a lot of the things I “didn’t have time for” made their way back into my life like cooking and enjoying meals every night, starting new study programs, movement/yoga practices nearly every day and just being an overall happier and more balanced person. I have never been a “stressed out” person, however I do feel measurably different and lighter knowing that I am not over booking and over working myself. Thus far, my schedule actually feels pretty lax because I’ve been more intentional with time management.
It’s alarming how our culture today has openly accepted working overtime, being overloaded with obligations and constantly chained to their devices for quick communication. Sure – they’re a blessing and curse, a convenience and a ball and chain. So many jobs now require people to be available 24/7, accessible at home at all hours and expect email replies within the hour. I hope we all know that we are allowing this to happen. For so many people, it’s wearing them away, causing stress and anxiety and the shunning of otherwise happy, reinvigorating things from their life. Keep in mind the prajnaparadha – what is your truth and what are you doing about it? What is one change you would make in your life if you could (because you can!). Even the small things make such a difference.