A friend who spent decades as a monk recently shared with me a pocket card that he and the other monastics were given at one point in his tenure. The card enumerated 10 reminders the monks and nuns were asked to keep present in their consciousness as they went about their daily activities. The points ranged from always keep your mind upon God to eat food slowly and avoid too much salt. I thought the purpose of the card terrific; valuable to anyone: a list of the key reminders we want front-of-mind no matter what comes our way. (A nation gone wacky, for instance.)
Of course, since monastic life is anchored in a vow of obedience, those monks and nuns were “given” the 10 points they were encouraged to remember––each receiving the same 10. Those of us free of such vows have the privilege of choosing the cues we’d like in our back pocket at all times. Among the reasons I find this process so rewarding is that we can pick things that are particularly gnarly for us. Even better, we can change our list anytime we wish for the rest of our lives. As you know, the universe is not shy about revealing new things worth remembering.
Below is my first crack at ten, plus a few extra, in case they stimulate your own discovery process. Before you get to them, however, I have a request. If you find this exercise useful, I would love to see the list of things you want to remember. We all have so much to learn (and steal) from one another.
Ten Things I Want to Remember:
- How we define our world creates our world.
- Everything is a gift.
- Environment is more important than will power.
- Life’s two most important questions are: What’s going on, and what’s the healthiest action I can take in this moment?
- Our breath is our single most powerful tool for navigating any situation, adversity especially.
- Health is “growing resilience,” the ability to respond in a life-affirming way to anything.
- Four practices that create health are: 1) managing fear; 2) learning from our experience; 3) gaining ever-deeper understanding of what we cannot live without; 4) aligning commitments with action and action with commitments.
- Regular exercise, meditation, challenging books and solitude are invaluable for establishing pliancy of body, mind and spirit.
- Everything in this manifest universe is connected to everything else, and experiencing the fullness of our own beauty and bliss depends on having a direct experience of this connection.
- Be kind, regardless. (Not irregardless, you potato head.)
Other candidates worthy of remembering:
- All paths are paths to God, because, ultimately, there is no other place for the soul to go.
- Be mindful of everything we put in our mouth, including words and laughter.
- Seeing difference is the cause of all misery, and ignorance is the cause of seeing difference.
- If it ain’t a pleasure, it ain’t a poem.
- Men fear ridicule the way women fear violence.
- The lord comes to us disguised as ourselves.
- Reverence is a capacity to recognize and to be in awe of what is.
- When you do not seek or need external approval, you are at your most powerful.
- Effective communication is arresting, emotionally powerful, meaningful, and memorable.
- Only the knowledge that brings freedom and everlasting peace is valid knowledge; the rest is merely an intellectual exercise.
- How we define the purpose of life and how the universe works is the foundation of every value judgment we make.
(And of course keep my focus on God, eat slow, and watch that salt.)
I look forward to learning what you want to remember.
Cheerfully, in gratitude,