This was posted originally at my MKGarden Healing Church blog.
I’ll explain the practice in a moment. But first let me share my journal entry – written just now – about it:
I love this timer and this practice!! I LOVE knowing what I’ve done all day. I used to have to ask Greg, or struggle to remember, and feel guilty because I was never sure if I was being lazy or not taking care of myself.
This is GREAT!!
I feel like living, like it’s worth it, and like I’m NOT running to catch up because I’m not sure if I’m working hard enough or getting anything accomplished. I’m working with more energy, but not pushing myself. I feel self-possessed, and strong.
What a feeling to know.
I’ve needed this book for SO LONG!!
What did I do? I went back to doing what I used to do as a business person – what helped me handle things with quite a bit of skill: I kept a somewhat complicated datebook of my own design, made to manage exactly what I needed to manage in a manner that took into consideration my particular brain and its quirks.
To develop it, I thought a lot about how my mind works. (I didn’t know I was multiple then, but I knew I absolutely needed my unique calendar or was lost.)
Since 1993, though, I haven’t wanted to use a datebook of any design unless I had to. It represented rigidity and someone who might not be open to possibly-blessing serendipities. So, for the last 21 years, I’ve only used calendars as often as I’ve needed them.
I tried to keep them away from me, as if they’d end the intense spiritual phase of my life which had amplified amazingly when I’d moved to the desert, gotten rid of my calendar, and opened my mind to immediate experiences of sunrises, sunsets, birds, insects, wild animals, weather, light, dark, hunger, food, thirst, water, walking, resting, waking.
While that triggered the most powerful time of my life, very healing, it also triggered some understanding of things very frightening, but important – for understanding simple reality. It helped me begin a long hard struggle toward healing.
So I didn’t want to return to the calendar-mind. No way. I was proud to be oblivious of time.
But I also lost of sense of knowing where I was, what I’d experienced, and what needs to be done. I’d acted as though vision and inspiration were enough.
(What irony, as the work I’ve always done has been teaming up with visionaries to “put legs on the vision and make it walk.”)
But no one was my manager to put the legs on. I tried, but without help with self-discipline, I have too many selves to keep things moving in a productive direction. I’ve been staggering around directionless for a pathetically long time.
A few days ago, after I read about this Full Moon today, I became motivated to prepare myself to catch the wave of this powerful energy. I thought more about my mind and what help I need. I decided to design a notebook for a new sort of business: the business of healing myself.
I – a manager at heart – finally, after 21 years trying and failing to do too much in my head, have designed a system for myself.
First, I made daily check sheets that remind me of all the things that are important for me to do each day, that I want to do, that support this most important thing in my life – my healing – but that I often forget to do, maybe because I’m mind controlled to forget, but in any case, I forget way too often.
They’re simple things:
– Write dreams or first thoughts
– Note the time
– Take supplements
– Eat lots of vegetables
– Eat lots of fruit
– Drink herbal medicine tea
– Track use and reaction to herbal medicine to assure correct dose
– Be aware of physical and emotional energy
– Walk, exercise, or do yoga
– Time in garden
– Summarize highlights of the day before
(and the week on Sunday, the month on the New Moon, and the year on the Winter Solstice)
The check sheets also include places to remember things thought of that day:
– Things to do
– New goals and reiteration of goals
– Day’s accomplishments
At the top of each page is the date, day of the week, and phase of the moon, which I like to attend to (part of my research).
And one more, most important, item: Under “Write dreams or first thoughts”: “Set timer.”
Yes. It’s not crazy-making. It’s the opposite.
First I chose a lovely chime on my phone. Every morning now, I set it for 30 minutes, and reset it constantly throughout the day. (I even did it yesterday when visiting friends. I kept it in the next room, so I could do my record-keeping discretely when it went off, let others think I was checking on an important call, made my notes, and returned to the group.)
Here’s why it’s important: The most important thing I need to do, as a multiple, is track my thoughts, remember them, and notice if I have lost time.
Every time I hear the chime, I reset it immediately, notice that I’m aware (or not) of the last half-hour, and write a word (or more) about what has happened in the last 30 minutes. Takes less than a minute, but it makes me feel in charge.
It doesn’t feel burdensome because it was my decision. I was expecting it to be helpful, but it has also given me a major boost in my confidence – and I feel happy every time it chimes because it reminds me that I created this way to cope, and I’m proud.
I even caught a bit of “missing time” on my very first day, and said to the alter who must have been out during the chime, “Wanna talk? I’m strong enough to listen. I would love to help and will do anything you need.” I’m still waiting, but I haven’t had any missing time since then.
And at the end of the first day, I could see all I’d accomplished – exercise, supplements, energy work, good food, everything I wanted – and I felt great.
I’ve also been noting when I use my herbal medicine, so I can keep perfectly disciplined about how much I use, how often, and notice any corresponding reactions. Any course correction I want to make is informed by clear memory.
(Why did no therapist ever suggest this??)
So, that’s the routine. Every thirty minutes, the chime reminds me to breathe, relax, remember what I’ve been doing for 30 minutes, and record it. I re-set the time, write what I’ve done for the last 30 minutes (sometimes a single word), how I feel, and anything else I want.
How the notebook is organized with a journal:
The current daily check sheet is right on top – best place – when I open the notebook, with previous daily check sheets behind. Each day, a new one goes on top.
Behind those pages is a divider followed by my journal pages. Since I write many pages a day, I refill it frequently with thirty or more blanks at a time. To easily find the current page, I have a sticky-note attached to the back of the page before it, hanging out like a tab, so I can easily grab it and turn all the used pages at once.
Since I needed a way to record my thoughts, but also want to be able to look separately at dreams, accomplishments, and meditation/prayer, apart from my stream-of-consciousness journaling, I created a template that lets me record everything chronologically, but lets me see easily which category things fall into.
I hand-drew the template page (hand-drawing feels better, less rigid). The pages, copied from the template, are filled mostly with lines for writing, with a space at the top for the page number – to keep this record of my life in careful order, hopefully with fewer and fewer missing gaps.
On the left are columns for noting date, day of week, phase of moon, and category of writing (A = Accomplishments, D = Dreams, J = Journal, M = Meditation/Self-Inquiry/Prayer.)
On the right is a column for the time I begin and end any passage, and I also record the time at the beginning and end of each page. Right of that is a column for “notes” to point out things I don’t want missed.
If I am so into my writing when I begin or end a new page that I forget to note the time and don’t realize it until I am not sure of it, I write “oops” – to not reinforce the word forget – but to cheerfully encourage myself to do it next time.
So that’s the full Practice: Daily check sheet of everything I want to do. Daily summary of accomplishments and goals for the next day. I’m reminded to breathe and relax every 30 minutes. I feel in control of my life, in a very positive endeavor, which is showing results already. The minutes it takes is not a hassle, but a joy.
I’ll soon sew a cloth cover for this notebook, with pockets for pens, phone, and paper things that make me happy, right now a collection of birthday cards given me a couple of months ago. It’s good to be reminded every day that there are people who love us. No reason not to carry those things around!
It’s my compensation package – what I need to compensate for my fractured mind – designed perfectly for me. It makes me feel like I’ve given myself back to myself.
Extras: A section for “scribbles” – I use when my mind is going too fast (or too many alters want to talk at once), where I can quickly jot brief notes to write about when the current subject is complete. Art pages (and maybe a pocket for potential collage items for those art pages). And even a page for my current best “talk to myself” for when I don’t feel like meditating!
Whenever I might take on a big project with multiple steps, I’ll add a section for planning pages that can be consulted or added to, perhaps in public, without searching through personal stuff.
And as soon as I figure out some other quirk of my mind, for which I need compensatory help, I’ll design a solution.
When the notebook is filled, I’ll remove all the pages at once, drop them in a file, and begin again.
I will post on how this continues.
Hope it’s helpful to someone out there.
Jean, you are brilliant. You never cease to amaze me.
You’re kind, Robert! So glad to count you a friend.