the Benedict Project 2: Going to bed on time

After two weeks of attempting to get up early, I learned three things:

  1. I am powerless over snoozing and getting up late in general and I can only ask God to take it away from me
  2. it helps if I go to bed 9 hours before I have to get up
  3. it is about progress, not perfection (it does NOT help to beat myself up over it)

It humbled me to experience, that not everything I put my mind to is happening the way I want it too. I have to follow God’s guidance .

Hearken continually within thine heart, O son, giving attentive ear to the precepts of thy master [God]*

I will accept myself, but I will strive for more anyway. Gretchen Rubin puts it like this:

Although I have not yet succeeded in getting up early in the morning, I gained some valuable insights and I will continue to press on, adding a second goal: going to bed on time in the evening.

I’ve been having a great conversation with a reader the past weeks, who made some clever suggestions to make going to bed easier:

  • a 20-30 minute walk before sleep/ shut down the computer at 8:30 pm
  • no more snacks/cookies in the evening
  • drinking a decaffeinated cup of tea

I’d recommend herbal tea with chamomile, lavender or valerian, like Pukka’s Night time blend… Coffee is definitely a no-go for me!

My idea is to make the time before I go to bed an unwinding, closing ritual, inspired by the Benedictine Monks.

5 pm**: the monks have their sunset evening prayer service called Vespers

6 pm: dinner in silence while one monk reads something from Scripture or other literature

7-8 pm: Benedict prescribes the silent reading of ‘edifying literature’ in the evening by the monks in their cells (rooms).

8 pm: End of the day-prayers are said: Compline.
Afterwards Great Silence is observed: everybody goes to their rooms and is completely silent.

What speaks to me about the monks’ ritual is that they stick to a fixed bedtime, which is part of their daily ‘order’ or schedule. What also appeals to me is the strict application of silence in the Benedictine routine.
I’d love to experience in my own life the kind of freedom those ‘restrictions’ must give in the mind and the body.

Keeping all this wisdom in mind, I’ve come to a proposition for myself for this week, which I hope to develop into an evening ritual.

  • EAT 6:15 pm dinner. Note: after dinner: no computer!!
  • READ 6:45 pm Bible reading and prayer with my husband (myVespers‘)
  • CLEAN 7:00 pm cleaning up: 15 minutes kitchen and 15 minutes tidying the living room
  • FREE 7:30 – 8:30 pm free time to: hang out with husband and animals, read, take a luxury bath, call a friend, write a letter, drink herbal tea, listen to classical music…
  • PREPARE 8:30 pm prepare lunch and backpack for next day, pick clothes for next day, look at my appointments, feed the rabbits / tidy their cages
  • WALK 9:00 pm walk the dog (unhurried and in gratitude of the day)
  • CLEAN ME 9:30 pm wash, put on pj’s, write in 1-sentence journal
  • PRAY 9:50 pm short prayer and 5 minutes of silent meditation in my ‘meditation room’: my ‘Compline‘. I hope to expand the prayer and meditation in the future, but I want to start small to create a habit.
  • SLEEP 10 pm: in bed and eyes closed ;-). The Great Silence has begun!

I need 9 hours sleep nowadays, so this means I will be able to get up at 7am if I’ll stick to my bedtime routine.

For inspiration, I have composed a ‘Morning Moodboard‘ and a ‘Time To Go To bed-Moodboard’  at Pinterest.

Let me know your proposed evening ritual and let’s encourage each other for 1,5 week to stick to it and share our experience in the comments.

Please take a minute to leave a comment now, I’d really appreciate it!
And if you like what you’ve read, go ahead and sign up for the e-mail list or via rss!! Thanks for supporting me, it means a lot…
love and peace,
You can also find me on: Facebook, Google + or Twitter.

p.s.: If you want to read more about this topic: Gretchen Rubin just happened to write the post: ‘I can never go to bed on time!’, featuring an awesome video.

* Rule of Benedict: Prologue

** the times of the day vary a little in each monastery but are the same each day.

7 thoughts on “the Benedict Project 2: Going to bed on time

  1. 10 minutes left ……(shut down computer 8.30 pm)……..
    I want to join. My proposed evening ritual:
    5.30 preparing dinner
    6.00 dinner
    6.30 washing dishes, etc.
    6.45 ‘vesper’
    7.00 – 8.30 ‘hang out’ time
    8.30 shut down computer; reading a – good – book
    9.15 walk (mindful, not slow)
    9.45 preparing lunch for next day
    10.00 ‘compline’ (in my new meditation room!)
    10.15 bedtime

    Wish you progress and happiness next days 😉

    God bless,
    “Despair is a choice”

    1. hi ‘despair is a choice”!
      sounds really really good, and your routine is really similar to mine, cool!!
      right now I already did the kitchen cleaning and feeding of the animals and also my lunch is prepared! love that!
      Past days this were my bedtimes (eyes closed): friday: 10.03 pm and saturday getting up at 7.12am very good!!!
      Saturday evening: 10:25 pm bedtime because I got distracted a little in the evening and in the morning: 7:30 because I was more tired because of going to bed late. Still a very good score and I even made it to church easily which I didn’t go to for a while because of my snoozin habits 🙂 really!

      Progress, not perfection!!

      God bless you too,
      Thanks so much for your comments!!

      p.s. If you feel comfortable with that, I would LOVE to see your new meditation room (maybe send a picture as a message on facebook), but if it’s too personal maybe you could describe or draw how you set it up?
      I am planning to post mine (distant shot) with my blogpost on meditation or prayer)

      p.s. 2 now closing off computer (actually normally it should have been off already but I was waiting for a personal email), walking dog, pray, sleep

      1. Hi Ester,

        Progress, not perfection. Indeed. Just a little bit progress for me, but (!) PROGRESS it is. A few days ill this week, and depressed. I do miss my beloved wife and soulmate these days (miss her every day). It’s a challenge for my faith, but it does’nt diminish the pain. But I’ve learned: despair is a choice. God is near. I’m so glad to know and feel his Precence, day by day. I’m a blessed person…..

        I will send you some pics of my silent room later. This moment it’s a very empty place 😉 I’m thinking about decoration now. I want to take some time for this; need to try someting out. This room is very special for me, because it also was the ‘silent room’ of my wife. This was the last place for her, she left our house from here. So, for me it’s a very special place for meditation and worship. That’s why I need some time to create this special, peaceful place.
        About one thing I’m sure. This room I will decorate with the words of Psalm 90 (vs.12). It’s a piece of ‘art’ made by myself during my first silent retreat. If you like, I will send you this pic by email.

        I hope you’ve made some progress, last week. Don’t give up. Never! “It’s not the DESTINATION, it’s the glory of THE RIDE ;-)” Indeed, it is.

        Looking forward to the next part of the Benedict Project,

        Wish you a wonderful, blessed weekend,
        ‘Despair is a choice’

      2. thanks for sharing the pictures with me!!
        I will be taking some photos in the future too.

        Zen dog:
        He knows not where he’s going
        for the ocean will decide
        it’s not the destination
        it’s the glory of the ride!!

      3. dear ‘Despair is a choice’ thanks so much for sharing this with me. My thoughts are with you…how hard it must be to lose your wife too soon….
        Today I posted Benedict Project 3 about starting and stopping tasks.
        Enjoy and hope you like it.

        God bless you and your family


  2. Made some progress last night. I had an appointment last night so I had to adapt my evening ritual to that, but I managed to go to bed an hour earlier than usually on a Wednesday night, and got up 9,5 hours later.
    But still, I managed to get everything done in the evening and a lot already before my appointment. Tonight will be first night at home so I can have an accurate go at my ritual.


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