One of the most rewarding things we can do to support our very busy lives is to establish a routine. An ideal one would integrate care for the health of the mind, body and spirit every day, balancing time for oneself with time with others, and it goes without saying that it would incorporate proper nutrition. This may seem strange to some to point out, especially for someone who is trying to deepen their nonviolence–what does a routine have to do with nonviolence, anyway? The point, I think, is that we need all of the energy we can muster to delve deeply into nonviolence. And a lot, really almost all of it, can potentially be wasted on figuring out seemingly small, mundane day-to-day decisions that an established routine can take care of in one pass. With a commitment to a routine in place, we have much more time at our disposal to do the Great Work.
You should not be surprised to learn that Gandhi had a routine in place. While it must have changed under various circumstances, such as we know during the severe post-partition violence where it has been said he did not sleep for more than 2-3 hours a night, his secretary Mahadev Desai recorded his routine in 1924 as follows:
4 am: Wake up, followed by prayer and hymns and some rest. 7 am: 30 minute walk along the seashore with walking stick and friend Charlie Andrews (note, this is pre-Salt March walking, Gandhi probably developed his idea for the Salt March on one of these walks…The Attenborough film suggests this, as well) and then small breakfast, followed by two to three hours’ interviews on important business. 11 am: Morning meal (probably more like lunch…) 12 noon- 4 pm: Dictation of letters and articles, etc. 4-5 pm: More interviews (note how much of his precious time is devoted to people) Half an hour evening walk and evening prayers. If there was something important to discuss, he would give it about one more hour and then: 9:30 pm: bedtime.
Do you think that Gandhi could have accomplished what he did without allocating his time so carefully? He was an experimenter in the science of nonviolence through and through, and there is simply no way something as important as his daily schedule was not another one of his experiments; there is no way that he was not constantly evaluating whether he was making the most of his energy and resources. And really, if even the Mahatma had a reasonable bedtime, shouldn’t we?
Do you have a daily schedule? Try to establish one, experiment until you get it right. Learn from that of others, to be sure, but come up with your own.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 email@example.com