Taking The First Step, Developing a Routine

A reader asked me the other day to share my meditation routine. When I thought about how I might describe it, I realized that it had a lot to do with an announcement I wanted to make today, was related, so I’d simply explain in this post.

What I’ve been doing lately has everything to do with just that: routine. I have finally realized that I am a person who needs, craves, hungers for routine. I don’t find it boring at all. In fact, the idea of practicing something for years is very appealing to me, sinking deeper into it, developing a foundation of wisdom through it, staying with it long enough to be able to break through my resistance, to know it so well I embody it completely. This meant I had to find a single time to meditate, the time I would practice every day, and then I’d have to stick with that, commit to it.

For so long, I resisted sitting in the morning because I already do so much that I thought I just didn’t have the time. And yet, if I waited until after a full day, I was always too tired. I already get up at 4:30 am every morning, so getting up a half hour earlier wasn’t realistic. I had to find time somewhere in my existing morning routine. I can’t give up my writing time, can’t give up walking the dogs or yoga. The only real wiggle room I had was the time I spent checking in on the computer, about half an hour. My first attempts at a morning practice meant I spent 15 minutes less on the computer and then sat for 10-20 minutes before walking the dogs or yoga. This worked for a bit, but wasn’t perfect.

Then I had the realization about how important it is for me to shower first thing in the morning. This somehow was the very shift that needed to happen for the whole structure to finally fall into place and function. Now my morning routine looks like this:

  • Out of bed at 4:30 am
  • Feed the dogs
  • Write morning pages while drinking 1/2 cup of coffee
  • Spend 10-15 minutes checking email, Facebook, and blog
  • Walk the dogs, or go to yoga (the dogs get walked every morning, but on my early morning yoga days, Eric takes them) or work out with my trainer
  • Shower
  • Eat breakfast
  • Meditate
  • Usually around 9 am, I either go to my paid work, or write blog posts or do other creative self-driven work

To be entirely honest, kind and gentle reader, most days after meditation, what I really want is a nap. But so far, it’s clear to me that if I want to be sure to meditate, this is where and when it needs to happen, and even if I can only do five minutes, I need to try and do it every day. That’s key: doing it every day, showing up no matter what. Trying to do it a certain way, or perfectly, or a set longer amount of time doesn’t help me to establish the routine, the tiny steps do, one small step after another.

My hope is that at some point, meditation will become like walking the dogs or yoga or writing, or drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, and that a day without it would just seem too weird, too strange, too impossible. I hope that it will become as important and steady as those other practices have.

I also have a secret weapon: Susan Piver and the Open Heart Project. I signed up initially for the free, basic program, but now belong to the Practitioner level. This woman, this project and the other people involved, and the resources Susan provides saved my practice. If you feel like you need inspiration, instruction, support, direction and guidance, Susan offers that, freely. I recommend signing up if you desire to start a meditation practice, or if like me, you are finding it difficult to do on your own, or you need a restart, some inspiration or new energy for your current practice.

My big announcement: I am adding something else to my routine–every Saturday starting today I am committing to spending four hours working on my book.

I’ve been talking about this for a while, writing it for a while, but in the spring, I became very aware that if I didn’t take a more structured approach, I was never going to finish it. I can write, show up for it every day, can generate page after page, some of it’s even good, but there’s no shape to it, no plan for how to put it together. And this summer, I’d hoped to begin that process, but realized early on that what I really needed was rest and play, to take it a little easier, to relax.

As fall and a new school year approached, I started feeling the pinch, the squeeze, the pressure. I have had busy, full days all summer and couldn’t take a direct approach towards writing this book–how the heck was I going to do so once I started working full-time again?! I panicked a little, but knew I could not give up on this. So I thought about how I might find time to work more directly on it. The first thought was I’d have to blog less, but as soon as the thought arose, so did “no!!!” and the realization that I didn’t want to do less of this–I love this.

“Okay, so what else?” I thought. I could spend the weekend writing…but that wouldn’t work because I want time to rest and play, and still need to do the laundry. Then it came to me that if I simply spent four hours on Saturday, approximately half the day, and then wrote a post about that, either sharing with you something I’d written or crying about how everything I’d written was crap or that I’d stared at a blank page for four straight hours, I could make some progress, develop a habit. I show up on Saturday, and having told you this is what I’m doing, you can keep me accountable. I might try to sneak my way out of it if just I knew, but you dear reader, I don’t want to disappoint you. And I couldn’t, wouldn’t be doing this without you.

So, this is the plan. Wish me luck. I’ll let you know next Saturday how it went.

Here goes, first step. Starting right now


9 thoughts on “Taking The First Step, Developing a Routine

  1. Ali

    Jill I really look forward to reading your blog posts each day and can’t wait to see what sort of book will flow from your gifted hands and mind. Good luck and enjoy your new commitment to the process.

  2. Eydie

    Routine has always been a huge desire for me. It is also one of my biggest challenges.
    You always inspire me.
    Thanks for doing what you do!

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Eydie, I’m just so glad I finally realized and accepted my need for routine, because even though it’s natural for me, I fought it because I thought that made you boring (oh, I can be such a dummy). Thank you for making what I do so rewarding!

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      What I love the most about it, Lori, is all the decisions are already made, I just have to show up. And it works for me because I am easily distracted by shiny objects, so if left to my own whims, I can get way off track (not that there’s something wrong with that, I just need to do in within a larger structure so I don’t get lost).

  3. Stephanie at Visible and Real

    Oh, this is LOVELY! Good luck with the writing and I look forward to hearing more from you about it.

    Also? Hooray for you for listening to what you *really* needed this summer and doing just that!

    (And I agree, routine is so important to me, and yet, so hard to find/keep.)

  4. janethovde

    Jill, thank you for sharing the specifics of getting meditation into your routine. I especially appreciate the link on tiny steps and LOVE, love, love the cloud photos interspersed with your words. I think it is wonderful you took good care of yourself this summer and are taking next steps with writing now. Good for you!

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      I’m glad this was a helpful answer to your question. The thing I love most about any practice is that even when you “fail” you get another chance to try again.


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