I try to keep my evening routine as relaxing as possible. Usually it involves mostly reading. Whatever books I’m currently reading, I try to finish up my chapter for the day in each. There is one book, however, that I plan on keeping in my repertoire for the months ahead. On September 1st I began reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. This is the top self help classic on people skills, published in 1936, and still relevant today. With thirty chapters, it is ideal for reading a chapter a day for a month. By the end of September, I had completed it, and immediately began again on October 1st, reading each chapter, twice a day, once in the morning, and once in the evening. On November 1st, I began reading its updated version, How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age (published in 2011.) At 27 chapters, it’s ideal for February or busier months. I began again on December 1st, knowing that the few days around Christmas I might not have as much leisure time to read, nor the space in my carry-on for an extra book when I fly to Lexington. These books are very practical with timeless, useful applications.
Shortly thereafter I read my nightly Seven Decisions reading, mirroring what I read earlier that morning. If it is Sunday, I take the time to read all of them for a weekly review.
After the readings, I usually begin my nightly meditation. Several of the meditations on my Calm app allows me to choose the amount of time of meditation, from 2 minutes, 5 minutes, and then increments of five minutes up to 30 minutes. The program I am currently listening to is Concentration, and I am at 25 minutes this month, and plan to be at 30 minutes at the New Year. The premise of The Concentration program is to concentrate on the sensation of the breath through the nose on the area just below the nostrils on the inhale and exhale. This is quite the challenge at 25 minutes, but I am making some headway. When this is completed, I do sometimes feel like Superman….or at least I feel like I have his laser beam eyes!
Following meditation, I’ve been using my Bible App to read through an Advent devotional by John Piper entitled Good News of Great Joy. This ends on Christmas Day, and I plan on continuing shorter devotions on the app thereafter during the evenings.
After this, I retire to the bedroom, and begin my nightly readings of the Daily Offices. Earlier in the evening, between 5:00p and 8:00p, I read the Vespers Office, and upon retiring, I read the Compline Office. The reading of the Daily offices throughout the day has turned out to be a very moving and emotional experience at times. It has definitely strengthened my awareness of God throughout the day, and the focus on Advent has kept my thoughts directed toward the true purpose of Christmas. It’s also uplifting to know that in these moments I’m participating with uncounted other faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, simultaneously worshipping Christ in the Word and prayer.
Finally, I don the headphones, turn off the light, lie down and listen to quiet affirmations being played over quiet ambient music and binaural entrainment for about 30-45 minutes. I sometimes fall asleep during this time, sometimes I wake at the quiet gong alarm at the end. I take off my headphones, go take care of bathroom duties as needed, climb beneath the comforter….and I’m out. Sometimes I take a 1.25 mg melatonin and/or drink 1-2 cups of Sleepytime Extra tea to aid the process, but sometimes it’s not necessary. I can usually tell after meditation if I need to.
I alway try to plan for bedtime (beginning with lie down time for the entrainment listening,) for 8 1/2 hours before wake up time. The extra 1/2 hour is to accommodate the entrainment time. The rough spots are Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, when I sometimes get home at 10 and have to be up no later than 6. I usually cut my meditation time down to ten minutes and cut out the entrainment. I get about 6 – 6 1/2 hours of sleep, which, while not optimal, is viable.
Where, there you have it. This is what’s working for me at the moment. It will change over time, with some parts remaining as non-negotiables, (the meditation, prayer and bible reading, walking, writing, reading), and some parts evolving or being deleted. I’m flexible, and adaptability has always been a strength of mine. Hopefully, you’ve found a nugget or two to implement into your daily routine. Ruts can be good if they’re leading you where you need to go. If not, create your own ruts.