We Monastic types often follow what is called a "Rule of Life". I was wondering if others out there also did, or if anyone would care to share what they do.
A Rule of Life is simply a structure in which spiritual formation is facilitated. The Latin term is regula, which we get our word regulation. I know most modern Christians don't like to think on rules constraining them, but each person's own Rule regulates their life in a way they see that is helps them to grow. It should be something you yearn to do. It is a tool for growth, not a pair of steel shackles.
The point of a Rule of Life, for communities or individuals, is that life should be lived in balance, with God as the focal point. A Rule of Life can provide us with the information and guidelines we need to get on the path of intentional practice of our Faith, and the loving accountability we need to keep us there. My Order has one that the Brothers follow, and we individualize it for our personal circumstances.
I find that there is strength in joining forces with others who have a similar hunger and desire to live the way of Jesus in the here and now. There is no doubt that we will fall short of keeping the rule in consistent ways, but this is why St. Benedict called his monasteries a "School for the Lord's service."
Practicing a Rule of Life with others moves us against the grain of our individualistic culture. However, I believe that a Rule should grow from the positive aspects of our life, not what we perceive to be our failings. We should discern it in conversation with God and others in our community, and we must make God the focus of our Rule (don't focus on negative images of ourselves) and then we move in the directions in which we feel God's calling. A Rule of Life should be a response to being loved by God in the first place, and feeling moved to become what God calls us to be in this world.
Ever since St. Benedict's time, Christians have used a Rule of Life to provide an ancient yet powerfully consistent way to live into our present and future faith.