A Rule of Life is a structure or rhythm for our lives that enables us to pay attention to the Holy One in everything we do. It helps us to live our live with intention and spend our time according to our own priorities.
All of us have a Rule (Way) of Life but it is mostly unconscious. The purpose of crafting a conscious Rule in this exercise is to more effectively structure our time and make conscious choices for how we are living..
Areas of priority or activity to include when considering your rule:
Silence and solitude
Reading and Study
Play and recreation
Service to others
Care for your physical body
Spiritual community and hospitality
The following are a few simple steps to begin:
Write down everything you currently do that nurtures your spirit and fills you with delight (e.g. people, places, activities). Don’t censor yourself. Your list may include everything from silent prayer, reading, gardening, walking the dog, being in nature, talking with close friends, cooking, painting, jumping out of airplanes, or any number of other possibilities. List them all.
Write down the activities you need to avoid, that pull you away from where you desire to be and how you would like to live. This refers to avoiding certain things that impact your spirit negatively – watching violent movies, hurrying, being over-scheduled, too much social media or screen time in general, etc.
What are the “have to’s” in this season of your life that impact your rhythms? (e.g. caring for aging parents, a special needs child, a demanding season at work, health issues…).
Record your rule – as a list, graphically, whatever makes sense to you. List areas in terms of everyday, weekly, monthly, once or twice a year, etc. Be realistic in in matters the most to you and where you really want to invest your time.
Take a step back and consider the following questions: What do you think will be your biggest challenge? What is the one thing you must do now? What might be one “stretch goal” you may want to consider? Have you included time to care for yourself in meaningful ways?
Remember: Listen to your heart’s desires when discerning your Rule. God often speaks to us through them. Make sure your Rule includes some joy, play, and fun. Take baby steps. Don’t make your Rule impossible to follow. You’re going to have trouble keeping a Rule sometimes. Recognize that you’re human and try again. Unexpected things come into our lives that we can’t help. We take on projects that are bigger than we expected. It takes experimentation to discern what form your Rule should take. Figure out how much structure you need – a lot or a little. And be gentle with yourself.