Flexing the Inflexible Muscles – Rituals, Routine, & Surprises

I love rituals.

Before I fill up the bathtub I like to straighten and arrange all of the items that I will need in a particular order, often placing all the things in the same location each time. I tidy up the room, add something with a nice smell (like a scented wax warmer or essential oil diffuser), and like to have visual clutter minimized. The ritual is setting the stage for a relaxing bath.

Getting ready for work is a routine that helps me stay productive. Every morning I run through my tasks like a checklist. I get up very early and give myself plenty of time to get ready for work. The list is already in the most efficient order. My goal is to be economical with my time but I really don’t want to rush.

I don’t like feeling rushed. It has been my experience that the days I rush I forget things. Being in a hurry stops you from enjoying the life in front of you. The moment you start to rush you stop living in the present and your mindfulness dissolves.

Before packing up my things I sit in front of my laptop and check my calendar to help make sure I know the important details of my day. I allow myself to walk back through the house to make sure I’ve done everything and turned things off. I take the time to stop and go through my mental checklists before I walk out the door.

These rituals and routines are comforting and they keep me calm, clear-headed, and productive. I give myself enough time to work mindfulness into my morning and it becomes a part of everything I do. Starting my day off right, with a good mental foundation.

Knowing what is coming I feel prepared to take on the world but the real battle doesn’t even start until a surprise happens.

Being flexible isn’t always easy. It’s hard to do because we love routine and knowing what to expect. These things are comforting and reliable when everything else may seem chaotic.

I try to always buffer in time for the inevitable surprises and mentally make a note that “anything could happen”. If I get too attached to my plan for the day and something changes last minute I feel agitated.

We must learn to flex our inflexible muscles and let go of attachments and expectations – otherwise, we will be upset when things change. Learning to stay calm in these moments, when something unexpected intrudes into your well thought out plan, may be hard work but it will benefit you in the long run.

When you feel that spark, adrenaline pulsing through you, take a time out. Breathe, close your eyes and count, go for a walk, find a way to stay in the present or take a break until you are back in your right mind.

Thinking clearly becomes impossible when the mind is racing. Bad decisions are born from unclear heads. Take the time you need to clean your mind. Don’t let anyone rush you when you need to think.

Flex your inflexible muscles, face your fears, don’t let life’s surprises get you down.

19 thoughts on “Flexing the Inflexible Muscles – Rituals, Routine, & Surprises

  1. I absolutely love this! Thank you so kindly for writing it. It’s very timely for me, too! I sometimes have issues with my inflexibility; I’m working on it, but it’s a “Process” lol 😉❤️

  2. This is very helpful for me right now. My muscles have been fairly inflexible lately and I have been hiding from potential surprises. This has certainly helped me recognise this and think how I may make it more manageable. Thank you 🙂

    1. I wonder what beautiful needs you’re trying to meet? I find it helpful to transform labels like ‘self sabotage’ and ‘procrastinate’ into deep respect and compassion for the underlying needs. Amazing joy and clarity almost always follows. Are you familiar with the self empathy practices taught in nonviolent communication? They’ve been my greatest help in the journey of recognising the symptoms of trauma and anxiety and opening up more joy and choice

  3. I am right in the middle of having to flex inflexible muscles due to my health. All of my old routines, habits and whatnots… have changed drastically. Either I have to change with it or I hurt myself. I find it difficult because I often resist the change which is not good for my health. I always have to slow down and remind myself…I am using this rolly backpack, migraine glasses, cushion to decrease pressure on my bladder and pelvic floor, to help me…not hurt me.

  4. It didn’t take long to understand you are practicing a sect of Buddhism. It’s hard for most people to stay on that path. It’s like a new diet or going to the gym. Is easy to revert to old patterns of living. I wish you much success. I’ve been a Buddhist for 30 years. There are many sects of Buddhism just like sects of Christianity that teach things differently. I am a Nichiren Buddhist. Do you know what that is? It’s based on the last sutra the Buddha taught before he died called the Lotus Sutra. The law of cause and effect, which is the basis of why everything happens to us in our life and how we react to life makes new causes that get later effects. Our life condition when things occur determined how we react. I’m sure you’ve seen by the way you approach life – how you begin your day affects your entire day because when you are stressed it affects what you do. I chant nam myoho Renge kyo which means: devotion to the mystic law of cause and effect through sound and vibration. Understanding where you are and being able to see the path that brought you here and also understand how your future is affected gives you control in your life you never had. Knowing the reasons for obstacles and how to overcome them breathes excitement for new life into you no matter how old you are. I was 33 when I began my practice. I’ll be 63 this year. My dreams and passions for what I have yet to do isn’t diminishing because I think I’m getting to old to start something new. Life is for the living. 30 is a great age to be, but you have yet gone through enough to benefit from the wisdom that is yet to come. That is an exciting place to be. I was 19 when I first heard of Buddhism and pushed it away. It took 14 years and 5 different times through those years to realize my life was a mess. I introduced my mother to it a year after I started so we always had each other. It created a relationship of understanding I cherish. She is my inspiration. If you’d like to talk further we can. You came to my blog on Jamie in prison. I’ve been teaching him for about 8 years. It has kept him sane in solitary. I’ve taught many people, every day. It’s the fastest way to change my negatives into positives. I write another prisoner on death row. His study and mediation changed his life. He just got married.

    1. Thank you for sharing all your wisdom and experience. Truly it is appreciated. You say the path is difficult but there comes to be a point in your life where you realize everything is now much simpler than before and you can’t imagine going back to your previous life. I do not follow any on sect in Buddhism rather I try to study as many of the Buddha’s teachings as possible – the Buddhist equivalent of a non-denominational Christian. I hope some of my positivity can at least help people even if they don’t change their entire lives. Maybe I can help inspire just a little bit of positivity somewhere and if I am lucky that joy can spread.

  5. Great insights and post on schedules, routines and learning flexibility. It is something I am working on myself, especially when it comes to surprises or not knowing what to expect, the openness it takes to be flexible. As well as letting go of attachment is another big one for me, but you make a good point about disappointment on that one. Anyways, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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