Many moons ago I spent a lot of time with monks. Benedictine monks to be exact. I went to a 4 year college seminary at a VERY remote monastery in Southern Indiana. The view from my dorm (or cell) was corn fields and soybeans. It was indeed a very peaceful place. A place of solace, a place of reflection, a place seemingly separated from the real world. It was a great place to get to know yourself.
Being 18 and from the city (Orlando) it was way more than a culture shock when I got dropped off outside those steeple towers. Unlike many colleges, this place had insane structure. You were required to attend morning prayer, daily mass and evening prayer. There were mandatory conferences to attend, there were mandatory service requirements, there were mandatory spiritual direction appointments and then of course, there were classes. Add a part time job to the mix so that you could afford a monthly trip to the local truck stop for a greasy burger and cultural experience and you had about 6 extra minutes to yourself.
I learned MANY life lessons while attending this school. I learned discipline, I learned study habits, I learned interpersonal skills, I learned leadership skills, I learned how to believe and trust in myself. I learned to be self sufficient. I also learned that I need to reflect, a lot. I also learned that the smell from Turkey crap used as fertilizer on corn fields is strong and pungent enough to gag a maggot.
6 Extra Minutes
So with such a busy schedule at school, how do you clear your head with the remaining 6 minutes of free time that you have? How do you discern or contemplate life's great mysteries? How do you keep your sanity? How do you process and digest all that's going on? You walk. I learned from the monks as I saw them in silence roaming the hilly terrain of the campus in their black, Jedi-like habits. I learned to walk. Not just for physical exercise, but for mental / well-being exercise. I'd get up at the butt crack of dawn, whether freezing assed cold or humid as hell and walk. I had a route and I remember that route to this day, but that 6 minute walk every morning focused and centered me.
Fast Forward To Today
Today, I'm pretty sure, I have less than 6 minutes for that walk. Life can get crazy, owning two businesses is nuts, serving on multiple non-profit boards, TV appearances, podcasts, a busy family with two very active girls, a siberian husky who demands my attention, church activities, you name it, today, more than ever, I need monastery walks.
Walks today consist of a busy sidewalk here in Orlando. I've traded the sounds of rustling corn and monastery bells for the hustle and the bustle, but deep within that noise is peace and solace. The buses, the impatient drivers, the honking horns have all become a place for my mind to escape and become clear. When I have a problem to solve at work, or if my creativity meter is running on empty, or if I need to work through a marketing problem, I take a walk. That's when I reset, that's when I solve problems, that's when I reflect and recharge my business, life and spirituality batteries. I've gotten some ofmy best ideas while out on 'monastery' walks.
Where's your monastery? I encourage you to get up and walk. Walk and reflect. You don't need to wear a monk habit (unless you're into all that), you don't have to pray, sometimes you don't even need to think. You just need to walk and take it all in. I bet you'll find that you'll get some amazing ideas. Get out there, go take a walk, it could change your life.
Go ahead, I'll wait....... Go!