Last December I published an article (link here) about my two resolutions for 2022. They were: 1. To add a second daily meditation, and 2. To chop wood and carry water.
As you can see from the above photo, I wrote them down and taped them to my desk so I could be reminded every day what I’d committed to. I’m a big believer in new year’s resolutions; as long as you keep them to a minimum of one or two. The fewer the resolutions, the fewer excuses we have for breaking them!
Adding the second meditation
So, how did I do? On adding a second meditation I fared…just okay. I’d say I did my afternoon meditation on fifty percent of the days of 2022.
That’s decent but not great. Why? Because my afternoon session was only five minutes. I should have been able to do that at least eighty percent of the days.
What does it reveal about me that I missed a bunch of afternoons? The same thing it reveals about most people who have trouble with meditating in any capacity: It’s all about resisting having to slow down and stop when every part of your being is saying, “Nope. We have some mojo going. No way I’m gonna stop to meditate.” At least that’s how it is for me.
What’s the answer? I think it’s to reiterate to ourselves this simple truth: That slowing our minds and checking in with our conscious “home” base is possibly the healthiest exercise humans can perform. And doing that twice a day, as Mickey Singer and transcendental meditation practitioners recommend, is even better.
Chopping wood and carrying water
As for my second resolution, chopping wood and carrying water, here’s a quick explanation of what that phrase means for those unfamiliar with it. It comes from Ram Dass’ iconic, groundbreaking book Be Here Now. He likens the daily work of an ordinary villager, chopping wood and carrying water, to that of the daily work of the spiritual seeker.
What is that daily work, or sadhana as it’s called in Sanskrit? It differs for everybody. For me, it includes meditating for fifteen minutes every morning (I probably missed 5–10 days in 2022) and for five minutes in the afternoon (that number will increase gradually).
Breathing while brushing and riding
It also includes countless examples of daily mindfulness. Like what? When brushing my teeth I close my eyes and breathe deeply and slowly throughout. When on my 45 minute bike rides I count my breaths up to five when I find that my mind has gone to the Bahamas.
I do those kinds of things several times a day. Every day.
I also listen to spiritual talks every day from a rotation that consists primarily of Mickey Singer, Eckhart Tolle and Ram Dass.
Doing it all day, every day
The point is that I do this stuff every day. Day after day. Just like a villager who chops wood and carries water every day. Day after day.
And I did well on this in 2022. Did I slip up and erupt like Vesuvius at my kids from time to time? You bet.
Just a few hours ago my fourteen year old son took my daughter’s three foot long stuffed animal (snake) and thwapped me hard right in the head while I was writing. No warning. Just a cold, calculated, surprise attack on his loving dad who then yelled at the top of his lungs while chasing after him…to no avail. He’s too fast and I’m too old to catch him anymore.
But most of the time I did pretty darn well. That daily work over the years builds and builds and builds, which manifests as feeling better and better in what I’d call a sense of overall well-being.
And that is the point of this article. I hope you’ll figure out what that daily spiritual chopping of wood and carrying of water looks like for you. And then do it. Over and over. Day after day. In 2023 and beyond.
I’m super confident that if you do, you’ll also increase your overall sense of well-being. I can’t think of anything more important.