(sunrise in West Auckland, near where I live. Sunrise is my favourite time)
I have breakfast once a week at a friends. Well, actually, I usually have breakfast out twice a week, both times after teaching a yoga class in friends' homes, two different homes.
I also have dinner once a week at yet another home of friends, after teaching them a yoga class. And I totally enjoy it. Time to have a chat with close friends. Time for laughter. Even just toast and coffee tastes better when we have good company. They are some of my rituals.
A friend was telling me how her husband likes to pause in his busy lawyer life, trot upstairs from his large downstairs office and brew fresh coffee, at roughly the same time every day, and also make fresh leaf tea at other times. I was so impressed. Rituals for him to pause, take a breather, reduce stress.
Rituals give us beautiful memories
Rituals create lovely times, too. As a child, I loved racing home after school to have afternoon tea with Nanna. Always a slice of cake or some biscuits. Plus, there was a long period where it was just her and I. They were treasured moments for me. When it was sunny, the whole family would have breakfast outside on a verandah, overlooking the sea. It was wonderful. Sunday roast lunch. Dinner at the same time every night, with dishes after. Bath and kisses before bed. Lovely warm memories.
Memories help form our personality, and help us “train”, unobtrusively, our children to be happy, and for them to know, when they leave home, how to make life nice.
These days we so often look to the latest superfoods and gym exercise to be healthy. And we often overlook how our health can soar when we have little rituals in place that make our life lovelier. For, when we are less stressed, when we have “times” that we pause, take a breather, and quite literally, switch gears, we can so easily sip out of stress mode, into a quieter, happier vibration.
Looking at ways to have small rituals, which are not stressful to put into place, is on my mind lately. I often work early mornings, so I’m up and about before dawn. And I often work evenings. I have the ritual of the early morning teaching sorted: everything is laid out the night before, including any library books to drop off after class and I make sure that any chores to do like shopping, on the way home, are written in my diary. How I also changed the early morning into more of a calming ritual is that I get up that little bit earlier, have a coffee as I shower and get ready. Most importantly: I don’t rush!! This has changed frantic mornings into nicer ones, just by The Ancient Art Of Ritual.
The evening return to home has not been so easy. The temptation to blob, comatose, after a long day, in front of the tv, is strong!! As often as possible I try to slip into ritual mode, moving in a fairly relaxed way, getting ready for the following morning and for bed. It works. It’s boring, but it works.
Making the transition from working to home seems to require something that signals our brains to switch gears. Doing something that breaks the work mode:
- kicking off your shoes
- hanging up your jacket
- having a shower
- going for a walk
- a run
- doing yoga sun salutes playing with the kids
I have a ritual where I meet up with a dear friend most Monday and Friday afternoons, when she has finished work, for a coffee. I so enjoy it.
There are lots of different rituals
Another ritual, which I have done for many years, except for a few years where I couldn’t see sunrise where I lived, (so I visualised it instead) is early morning red sun gazing (about 10-15 seconds) leading into meditation. Which of course I can’t do when I am watching the sun come up as I am lined up in traffic on my way to take a class, in which case I just do a sun mantra, like an invocation, and make sure that I am present in the beauty of the moment. Sometimes, when I am really tired I do sleep in and miss sunrise altogether, which does irk. I also do some yoga poses and breathing in the mornings, which go by-the-by if I’m working, or get up late. I still haven’t sorted that one out.
I know women whose ritual is to go walking first thing each day, or go to the gym regularly, or read uplifting things each morning or evening. Another friend puts out a crystal spread each week that is relevant to what's happening, cosmic-wise.
One of my friends does a Jin Shin Jyitsu 10 second routine each morning to balance herself. To me, that’s so lovely.
Another friend has, for many years, done a quick chakra balance using colour & the chakra points where they touch the body, every day. She looks full of light! She also puts out a crystal spread each week that is relevant to what's happening, cosmic-wise.
Another ritual, which I have had for years, is to go to a friend’s meditation and crystals evening, about twice a month. I don’t “need” to go anywhere for meditation, but I love that evening as it’s my time to just let go on another level, and to delve even deeper into my psyche.
A ritual, as you can see, can be one of many things.
I have some rituals which aren’t the best, like early morning coffee. And you will too. You will have some good rituals and some not so perfect. However, I personally don’t feel that rituals are about perfection, they are about what feels good for you. They are also about our well being, and it’s just as important for us to be able to switch from one mode to the other, just by The Ancient art of Ritual.
If you look at your life, you will see some things that signal a little ritual. You might also see where some are needed. For me, a ritual is to move from one mode to the next Usually, I admit, from frantic to relaxed. We do it with young children: the ritual of bath, teeth, bedtimes stories, these wee rituals are so important for children.
I’m looking at ritual, and serenity, as ways to uplift my life. I recommend doing both, as they seem to go hand in hand.