Now is the end of summer, harvest time. From that point of view, [Fall ] is a chance to harvest the results of whatever has happened in our lives this year…To be a student of meditation is to take to heart that short-term fixes are usually illusions. To make real change, we need an actual path. Any genuine path takes time. Most of the time, we simply want to practice more things than we can practice, take on more than we can take on, achieve more than is possible to achieve. This is especially true if you live in an exciting and overstimulating city. The wish to do more things than we can actually do comes from a positive place - it’s because we love life, recognize impermanence and want to experience as much as we possibly can before it all slips on by. That’s why we end up doing WAY too many things and driving ourselves nuts with busy-ness. Sadly, when we try to do everything, we find ourselves doing much less than if we just took on a few things.
Here’s the exercise in simplicity that I often introduce to students when I work with them closely. Let’s say that each day you can only do five things. Each of these five things must be done with the view of a practice, a process that we engage in to develop our heartminds and cultivate the qualities we want to embody in this precious and not-long-enough life of ours. You can only do five practices every day. Not six, not eight. Five.
Let’s assume for the purpose of this exercise that the basics – such as food, shelter, and medicine - are all taken care of each day. Let’s assume that after that, you can do five things, each of which is viewed as a practice, which means each is a process where daily engagement in the process is considered more important than outcome. If you only had five practices for the fall, what would they be?
Ethan Nichtern, “A Meditation for the Fall”, Huffington Post