Today is the last day of January. It’s also the last day of something I started on January 1 called the Sacred Hour Challenge, which was to create and honor one hour at the beginning of every day of the month of January. What you put in that hour was almost completely up to you. Almost, because you could not fill it with communication with the “outside world” of any kind, i.e. things like news, social media, email, texts, phone calls, or something that distracts you from your purpose during this hour, to focus your attention inward.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Avoiding the temptation of all the options to see and communicate with the outside world that my iPhone affords IS POSSIBLE. Prior to this month, I had tried and failed many times to avoid the temptation of the dreaded notification badges on apps, the attraction to the possibility of a reply to a text or an email, the thought that knowing what was going on “out there” in the world was more important than anything else first thing in the morning.
2. All that noise from the outside world? It’s completely unnecessary, especially first thing in the morning. That noise is a way for my mind to distract me… from ME. It would much rather keep me focused on all the crazy and fucked up shit that is going on in the world among my friends, or in social media than it would have me focus on the one thing I can actually control… ME.
3. The pull and temptation of all that is going on in the outside world will NEVER go away. You would think after 31 days of practice, that it would get easier to resist the “tractor beam” of noise from out there. While it IS more habitual, it is NOT easier. I have to generate the desire, determination, discipline, and commitment to avoid it, to put the phone down, to not look. I have to ignore the false narratives that my mind makes up to convince me of the importance of checking my texts or emails. And that requires effort every single day.
4. Avoiding the temptation first thing in the morning is great PRACTICE for the times during your day and life where the events and circumstances pull you out of whack. As far as I know, life isn’t slowing down any time soon. And the pressures of life aren’t getting any smaller. And the answers to the big questions about what to do and how to do it are not getting any clearer for anyone by speeding up or looking around at everyone and everything else. The willingness to look inside of yourself is a skill. It takes PRACTICE, as it’s not instinctual, especially since every ounce of the world’s energy is pulling you OUTWARD. And yet slowing down, creating space, looking away from the temptations of the outside world… these are the skills required to get the answers that resonate with the one and only person it matters most to – YOURSELF.
5. The mundaneness and boringness that comes with doing the same thing every day – THAT’S THE POINT. Life is uncertainty. We’ve all gotten a glimpse of that over the past 2 years with COVID. Knowing that life is uncertain, and we don’t know what’s coming or when, means that the better prepared we are when it does, the more successful we’ll be at facing and handling it. This comes with daily practice and preparation. In the physical world, that means being physically fit. In the emotional, mental, and spiritual world, it means getting out of your head, quitting obsessing over what happened in the past, or what might happen in the future, and turning your attention inward. Doing this, just like working out, means showing up day after day, even when it’s mundane and boring.