A Daily Pattern and Rhythm: Worship, Work, and Music

In my previous post, I talk about the need to Establish a Daily Pattern and Rhythm in Our Lives.

This is so we can have some order and inner peace and a sense of balance. But how can we create a daily pattern and rhythm to bring about these?

Let us first look at these terms.

Pattern, according to Oxford dictionary, is “a regular and intelligible form or sequence discernible in certain actions or situations.” Rhythm, says Oxford, is “a regularly recurring sequence of events, actions, or processes.”

Through our daily routine and regular activities, we are able to build a system or order of conducting our lives, which lends a certain cadence or tempo into our days.

Hence, we talk of our regular eating/sleeping time and so forth. If we skip a beat, we might feel uneasy. We get sick, if we form the bad habits of sleeping too late or getting not enough sleep, and missing our meals. (I will be writing more on this in a later post.)

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Again, using the fine example of contemplative religious communities, they start and end their day in worship and prayer, and interspersed in between are their hours of work and/or study, as well as time for their rest and recreation.

Such mindful use of their hours with nothing put to waste! So much so they have no time to focus too much on the bad and the ugly. Rather, they tend to set their sights on the good, their hearts on God.

God’s Template

Come to think of it, I’ve realized God himself has given us the perfect template for creating pattern and rhythm in our daily life:  work and rest and worship.

“For six days, you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.[…] For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.” — Exodus 20:8-11

  • Worship and Prayer

Wouldn’t it be good to also start your own day with a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to your God, the Creator of the Universe and of all beings? As well as end the day with a prayer or quiet time with Him?

Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

For Christians, worshiping God is His first commandment to us, which He himself spoke to Moses and the people of Israel on Mount Sinai:

“I am the Lord your God […] you shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20: 1-3 (NRSV)

And Jesus too spoke of the same when He was tempted by Satan in the desert:

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” – Matthew 4:10 (NRSV)

For the religious communities I mentioned above, in obedience to God’s divine law  to worship Him, these  are two verses from the Bible by which they design their daily life:

Psalm 119:164 “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.” (KJV)

Psalm 119:62 “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.” (KJV)

So Christians even in the secular world are called upon to worship God — though not exactly in the way religious communities arrange their prayer time.  I myself have been doing my best to preserve my own sacred time with God. I wrote about this in my previous post, Create Sacred Time in Daily Life to Attain Calm, Achieve More, and Grow.

As God himself commanded us, so be it, as it is good for our spiritual lives. Worshiping Him is God’s greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your might.” — Deuteronomy 6:5 (NRSV)

Non-Christians also do pray. They have their own special ways to commune with a Higher Being or Deity.

In other words, praying is as basic as the need to eat, sleep, and breathe — to  ground oneself, be firm, and grow.

  • Work/Study

Surely you know how work and study are important for us to grow.  Work is the means by which we can make use of our God-given talents, and enables us to provide for ourselves and those entrusted to our care, as well as be of help to the less fortunate.

But what I’m stressing more here is how to make your day more meaningful. How are you maximizing your time? What are you aiming for — being busy or being productive?

Aim to spend each hour of the day in producing results that can lead you closer to your goals. Avoid spending time on needless tasks or activities that will not help you grow — as in too much time on social media. Allot time for your continuous learning. “One hour per day of study in your chosen field is all it takes, “ as Earl Nightingale once said.

When we fill our days with meaningful work or activity, we glorify God. And we are safe from the temptation of the evil one, as the popular saying goes, “An idle mind/hands are the devil’s workshop.”

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash
  • Music

What better way to mark our daily pattern and rhythm with special sounds that can enhance our day than music? I like this definition of music from Wikipedia: “Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time.” 

Music as a form of worship and prayer is uplifting, soul-refreshing, unifying our soul and spirit with God. It is indeed the highest form of prayer we can offer to God, to whom all Glory and Praise belong.

Outside the realm of religious rites, music is an invaluable part of our lives. It’s one of the most effective ways to express emotions and create mood. Isn’t it nice to have music playing in the background while you work (or do chores),  study,  or to simply relax?

Also, today more and more people are turning to music as a healing therapy, such as those offered by Breathe & Chill on YouTube: binaural beats, calming sounds of nature. They even have binaural beats for children.

So there, dear reader. If you are already getting fed up by the noise  and pain in the world, or yearning to deepen your spirituality, or to gain clearer direction, it is time to re-arrange your daily life with these 3 important elements of worship, work and music. Let go and let God, too, if things are getting too much to bear!

  • God created the Universe and all in it according to His set design and pattern, so there may be ORDER in the natural word.

“For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it, (he established it; he didn’t create it a chaos, formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD and there is no other.” — Isaiah 45:18 (The NRSV Catholic Edition)

  • God gave us His commandments for our own good, that we may lead orderly lives and not lose our way.

“GOD is Light and in Him there is no darkness at all. ” — 1 John 5 (NRSV, Catholic Edition)

See this article too on “Why is Obedience to God Important?” by Mary Fairchild, Learn Religions, Feb. 11, 2020.

God’s perfect template for pattern and rhythm in our daily life: work and rest and worship.

 

 

 

Establishing a Daily Pattern and Rhythm in Our Lives

Are you getting jaded, disheartened, or depressed by what is happening around the world?

Our world today is full of strife, noise, and excesses. These chaos around us can deplete us of our inner energy and peace, causing us to drift mindlessly or drown in a sea of confusion or meaninglessness. It is easy to lose ourselves.

So we need to retain or restore our sense of balance and of self. One way to do this is by establishing a daily pattern and rhythm.

Lately, I’ve been striving to build pattern and rhythm into my everyday life under the maxim, Ora et Labora: Prayer and work incorporated into each of my day. I also include listening to music into my routine: classical, instrumental, and healing music.

My inspiration for this is the monastic and convent life of religious orders and congregations of contemplative  priests/monks and nuns, (those whose main life is devoted to prayer inside their monasteries or convents) such as, to name a few, the Benedictines, the Carmelites, and the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (Pink Sisters) of which my younger sister is a member.

A community of Pink Sisters at prayer. We brought my dad’s urn to the Pink Sisters community where my sister is a member, for a memorial Mass, as they are not allowed to go out and attend family events…

Their daily life is marked by a routine of worship and prayer, work and study, rest and recreation.

Not to overlook that singing is also part of their worship and prayer. Music is very much interwoven into their daily pattern.

PATTERN and RHYTHM Brings ORDER into Our Lives

It will be good for us, if we can adopt the same principle into our own life in the secular world.

Establishing a daily pattern and rhythm  brings order into our lives, both external and internal. Let me explain further.

Have you ever had some experience dealing with or interacting with contemplative monks/priests and nuns?

If so, you must have noticed how calm, quiet, and gentle they go about their day. Even their movement seems unhurried and fluid, their voice soft and angelic. Nothing harsh nor abrupt in the way they move or speak. The same is true with my own sister and her co-sisters in their convent.

It must be their disciplined, structured life. I also remember my professor in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling, a Jesuit priest, reminding us to “move slowly, speak slowly, eat slowly.” He stressed the importance of being in the moment, in the here-and-now.

Perhaps there is wisdom in that way of living, which we can adapt to our own individual environment, circumstances, and everyday living to:

  • Help us put up with the negative forces around us of which we have little control;
  • Enable us to tackle the challenges and problems of modern life, especially those brought about by technology, and still remain sane.

Among the downside of technology we are facing today are:

  • Disconnect between the real and the virtual world
  • Climate of negativity and superficiality on social media
  • Spread of fake news, lies, and hate-crimes
  • Depression and suicide among the young
  • Technology-driven warfare

So disheartening, huh? That is why, I state again, we need to have some form of defense against these negative forces in the external world, or call it crutch if you will, to help us maintain our inner composure and equilibrium. Something to pull us back to ourselves in case we get lost.

Now,  some of you  especially the young or those of you who are more free-spirited and dislike being hemmed in by a strict time regimen and routine,  maybe you won’t agree with me. But it pays to have structure and regularity in our daily life.

Photo by Robin Spielmann on Unsplash

In fact, studies show we are wired to follow certain patterns and rhythms – just like our heart beats, breathing, and sleep-wake cycle, for example. Even nature follows patterns and rhythms, like the rising and setting of the sun, the ebb and flow of tides, seasonal changes, and so on.

Just observe things around you. You will notice the presence of patterns and rhythms in your own life and in the natural world. Don’t you just feel safe and secure when you see daylight comes out after the dark hours of night? No matter the weather is, day is sure to follow night. That is the natural law, the natural order of things.

More than a disciplined, well-arranged daily pattern, these priests/monks and cloistered nuns seem to be possessed with quiet confidence that everything will be alright despite all the above-mentioned issues. They remain unperturbed like lotuses in a pond.

We can indeed re-arrange our days to help us weather the external chaos going on around us; that despite the turmoil of a superficial, hostile world, we can still live with inner peace and balance.

In my next post, I will show you how you can create pattern and rhythm in your own life through Worship, Work, and Music interwoven into each of your days.

 

* NOTE: This is my revised post. The original contains the 2nd part which I now have to make into a new post in itself.

 

 

 

Create Sacred Time in Daily Life to Attain Calm, Achieve More, and Grow

I remember growing up with a daily structure to follow. I belonged to that generation when parents instilled a disciplined time management to their children. Whether on schooldays or vacation, we had to start our day early.

Do you know the saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise?” That was my parents’ motivation for us.

This is true for most parents that they want their children to be successful in life. They believe success starts with an early day.

Another parents’ favorite saying is, “The early bird catches the worm.” Thus, when my own children were growing up, I also instilled in them this good habit of waking up early.

Downside of Flexible Hours

But as years went by, long after my children had grown and started their own lives, I managed to establish my own flexible time routine as my needs demanded it. Like if I had a class, or appointment, or an errand late in the morning, I’d get up late too, beyond 7 am.

My days became more and more flexible, since I quit my teaching job at a pastoral institute and opted to work from home. Yet, the freedom flextime (flexible hours) gave me was both simultaneously good and overwhelming!

Photo by Enikő Tóth from Pexels

I realized I wasn’t as productive as I used to. Without a set time structure for my day, the hours seemed to fly by without me having accomplished as much as I wanted or needed to.

Besides, the feeling of cramming too many things in a few hours of the day was already creating a sense of mindless flow and needless stress.

It seems like Time and Temper run in short supply, as we get older.

The Beauty of Creating Sacred Time

Fast forward to the beginning of this year, I vowed to be more mindful of the hours I spend in a day.

I had to rediscover the joy of waking up much earlier again, at the crack of dawn when everything was still dark, cold, and dreary.

But, more than waking up early, something inside me was still yearning for more, for something deeper and far more meaningful for each of my day.

I realized then I needed to create a special time for prayer or quiet meditation, a time for communing with God.

And I can only do so by setting particular hours of my day for this Sacred Time, spread throughout my day, with intention; to pray not only when I feel like or have extra time.

So far, this has been helping me set the tone for my day.

The beauty of doing this? Waking up earlier than usual and creating Sacred Time for certain hours of the day, I can, among many other benefits:

  • Start my day with a prayer and conversation with God with no hurry
  • Enjoy watching the dark dawn turn light into a new day
  • Watch the first glow of the morning sun peeking through the mountains in the eastern side of the metropolis
  • Observe the pigeons in the neighborhood take flight for their morning exercise
  • Organize my day’s activities, including rest, more mindfully and meaningfully
  • Focus more on the present
  • Feel more calm and relaxed despite hardship and challenges knowing I am a prayer away from my Creator
  • Accomplish more by giving priority to the most urgent tasks and doing away with killing time
  • End my day with a healing prayer before bedtime
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In short, I find it refreshing and energy boosting in starting and ending the day on a positive note, which can only come from having a time for prayer. My Sacred Time! It has helped deepen my prayer life.

Of course, I still feel challenged at times, and problems still take the better of me. Yet, growing closer to God through my Sacred Time, I can overcome the negatives, do more, and grow to be the best person I can ever be.

“Be still and know that I am God.” — Psalm 46:10

If you feel you need more calm, want to be more productive, and grow, you too can try this. You can also create your own sacred time or space. You may have your own version of it – your own quiet, solitary time, communing with your Higher Being, at an hour/or hours  and place you choose. It brings the same effect. It will surely benefit you in many more ways than you’ll ever know.