Complacency mimics happiness.
I’m not sure when or where I heard or read this quote originally but every now and again it comes to mind, crashing and banging to get my attention.
Today, it did just that.
If you look up the definition of complacency in the dictionary this is what you’ll read : A feeling of quiet pleasure of security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.
I have been stuck in the muck of complacency over the last few months. And it is starting to piss me off.
The biggest zones of contention that I find myself stuck in are with regards to that of my sleep and diet. Too many evenings I’ve been staying up past my bed time (10:00pm), sipping on wine and snacking on cheese while binge watching pre-recorded home decorating shows or scrolling through Pinterest looking for something ‘to do’ with my time. Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful way to spend an evening, but not when it’s every evening. Aside from making me tired and cranky, it’s also upsetting my digestive system, and snowballing the negative emotions of self-loathing and self-disgust.
I need an adjustment, and not one from my chiropractor, but one of my own reconciliation.
Last post, I briefly mentioned the concept of dinacharya, the Ayurvedic philosophy behind following the guidance and patterning of the sun. In a nutshell, the idea is to instate a set of daily (dina) practices is that in accordance with ones unique constitution while following the movements or activity (acharya) of the sun. Or in plain English, creating and sticking to a healthy, balanced daily routine.
When I was in India, I was blessed with this gift of a healthy and balanced daily routine. It was extremely regimented and it was exactly what my body, mind and emotions needed in order to break my habitual and unhealthy patternings. Plus, it also helped me not only know, but also embody and appreciate the benefits of living my days as productively and healthfully as possible. It looked like this:
5:30am • Wake
6:00am • Meditate
7:30am • Tea Break (the tea was a simple Indian chai tea serve lukewarm with milk).
8:00am • Asana & Pranayama practice
10:00am • Breakfast (we ate in silence).
11:00am • Karma Yoga (while living on the ashram we had to perform various selfless acts, mine was to clean the washrooms in our dormitory).
12:00pm • Chanting practice or Bhagavad Gita study
1:00pm • Break (as much as it was a break, this was pretty much the only time in the day to get my daily homework assignment complete, which had to be handed in at meditation the next morning).
2:00pm • Lecture on the philosophy of yoga
3:30pm • Break (I’d often sit in the sun, or tour the ashram grounds).
4:00pm • Asana & Pranayama practice
6:00pm • Supper (again, we ate in silence).
8:00pm • Satsang (this was our evening gathering time where we often watched traditional performances from local dancers, actors and musicians, or simply sat and chatted).
10:00pm • Bed
This was every day for 30 days (save for the two Friday’s where we went on an excursion at 9:00am and returned before supper). Regardless, each day started and ended each in the exact same way and I THRIVED under the circumstances. Now don’t get me wrong! I had many a days when I wanted to rebel and stay in bed or skip sessions. But living on the ashram there is nowhere to hid and nowhere to go. So I’d drag my ass to where I needed to be and go from there. Interestingly, as I neared the end of the training, I remember feeling so terribly sad that the routine was coming to an end. I also felt a bit panicked – how in the heck was I going to keep up this kind of routine once I got back to Canada and my life? I felt amazing and I wanted to continue to feel that way.
Fellow Canadian and I in the final days of our training together.
Arriving back to Nova Scotia on December 19th, it wasn’t long before I was swept into the shuffle of irregularity and the ultimate upset of my perfect routine. Of course I was. What I experienced in India was not sustainable in my western life and the only thing I could do about it was accept that my routine was going to have to look and feel differently. Thus, here in lies the challenge : how does one create and stick to a routine, which is a must for optimal health and wellbeing, when life, circumstance, society and a plethora of other conditions are constantly pushing things out of whack?
Back to complacency. For me, complacency is a crutch. It’s my way of hiding or avoiding that which I know is best for me. I know when I get complacent I get this F*CK IT attitude that washes over me and quickly start sinking into the muck of unhealthy gratifications grasping for quick ‘fixes’ and emotional comfort. And then, like a hamster, I just keep running around and around the ‘good enough’ wheel until I reach my limit. Thankfully I’ve come to know that my limit is when I get pissed off.
So now what? I know what I don’t need and don’t want, but how does one change that into the act doing what is right, and ultimately, a must?
In his book Unfu*ck Yourself, Gary John Bishop writes that it’s a matter of asking and answering one simple question, “Am I willing?” He goes on to write, “The famous philosopher and political scientist Niccolò Machiavelli once said, “Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.” Consider that for a second. It does not matter what you’re facing in life, which obstacle you’re trying to overcome—if you are willing to generate that state of willingness, that’s your doorway to making the effort, taking the steps, dealing with the setbacks, and ultimately creating the progress and change in your life that you’re seeking. That’s why such a simple statement—“I am willing”—is so profound. You become enlivened and empowered by its promise, open to its allure.”
Right now, I am willing to turn the TV off at 10:00pm and hit the fart sack. I’m willing to read instead of scroll once I do go to bed. And, I’m willing to get up and reinstate my morning practice of hot lemon water and ginger tea before a cup of coffee. I am not willing to give up my glass of wine or the cheese that goes with it. Not yet anyway. And the point isn’t necessarily to take those away but rather work around that which I am ready and willing to change. Mine are simple small adjustments and it’s the small things that lead to great ones. In my case, what I am willing to might not get me off the hamster wheel just yet, but I feel like they are helping to slow it down so that I can at least get a sense for what I’m willing to do next.
How about you, are you willing to do?