The world I live in is my place of learning, growing, and devotion –it is my monastery. And since it’s my life and my monastery, I am the abbot.
I have a lot of duties as head-monk. It’s up to me to see that my home is my temple and that is well-kept, peaceful, and conducive to thriving. While I do not live the ultra-simplistic lifestyle that the monks of other religions adhere to, I am dedicated to keep things organized, uncluttered, minimalistic, and flowing.
Temples are meant to be visited and I view my living space through the eyes of a guest. I will never own anything in life, everything is transitory and cannot be permanently possessed (in the end, it’s just me), so I too am a special guest in my own home. I might as well appreciate it to the fullest while I’m here, so why not keep it the way I would want for my most important visitors? I am an honorable guest and as abbot I must graciously take care of these things so I may better enjoy my stay.
It is win-win–I am doing my duties, the temple is beautiful, and I am reaping the benefits…excellent.
My second duty as abbot is to look after me, the monk.
I make sure I get the right kind of food, enough sleep (need to monitor more), proper work-time, devotion and learning-time, and play and creative time. Am I drinking enough water and doing enough yoga? Do I have wine? Am I laughing a lot every day? These assure that I am functioning at my best.
I put my beliefs into practice. Each morning it’s gratitude and meditation first thing before launching into life. If there is grouchiness or negativity I take care of it best I can, especially before encountering others. I clear out any inner and outer baggage throughout the day, and if there is something that is not sitting right, I take time alone to work it out.
I’ve learned that running around doing things does not make good progress when things are left untended inside. Sitting and devoting time has taken me farther than ever before, and I can do the outward things with much better attitude and commitment.
I cannot do it alone, there are things that need to be paid for in order to keep life running and comfortable. When the water and electricity bills show up I am thankful that I have such things. When cell phone and internet and credit card bills come, I am thankful for such luxuries. If I ever start to form complaints in my head, I ask if I would like to do without lights or insurance or connection to the world. Nothing like a freezing shower to get right in the head again.
My lifestyle and my state of mind are precious gems that demonstrate the level at which I hold myself to.
I’ve previously lived so haphazard a routine that I eventually broke out in a terrible mysterious rash that lasted for months–I had developed a very serious dust mite allergy. There was dust and clutter everywhere, and the intensely itchy red welts were a timely slap in the face to clean up my life.
It was ironic that I would dutifully take pride, clean and organize, and put on my best face at work, then return to my sloppy home and be sloppy with my personality. Life is much more important than a job, and I realized that if I treated it as the temple that it is, it would allow me to flourish instead of simply get by.