Most of us have some type of ritual, in additional to our normal routine; routine is about getting things done …ritual is about caring for yourself. Ritual is something we need because it allows us to move into our work with more confidence, or comfort. As an example, my morning ritual is spending 10 minutes sitting comfortably in the silence of my still-sleeping household while holding my coffee cup, enjoying the warmth of it in my hands. Sitting quietly for this measure of time is something I really look forward to each and every day – I do this on the weekends too. All else can fall apart in my morning routine, but I’m OK if I get to have my quiet coffee moment – it sets me up for success in my work day in ways my routine just can’t.
Different parts of our day may have ritual in it, and we don’t even know it. While I was working in a corporate setting, I had someone to eat lunch with each day, and when she was transferred to another location, I really missed that time together, and the constancy of doing something that was a good break from work. After she moved, I ate lunch at my desk, and I had to reflect on why my afternoons seemed so long. Ritual can energize us, give us the permission we need to both take a well-deserved break and enjoy it.
Rituals are important anchor points that allow us to gently move into “what is next”. My favorite late-afternoon ritual at work is to close down for the day, tidying up my desk, amending my “to do” list, and (the best part), hearing the “snuck” sound my computer makes as it closes for the night. That sound lets me close all the work “tabs” that are open in my mind, letting my thoughts turn elsewhere. I can embrace the commute home, shifting into an evening routine filled with loved ones and other tasks that keep our busy household going. When this ritual is disrupted (i.e. I leave work early or I am not in the office at the end of the day), I find my mind cluttered with lots of details and intellectual debris from my work-day, which impacts how present I can be for my family in the evenings.
Take a look at your day, what rituals do you have that help support self-care, balance or peace of mind? If you look, you’ll find them (even if you may not have called them rituals). A ritual has positive impact in our day when we do it intentionally, letting it give us that break, or the opportunity to re-set. One person’s ritual can be another person’s obligation, so these are highly individualized ways of supporting ourselves in our days, no two are alike but all can provide a meaningful pause from our labours.
As John Hench said “We don't have too much ritual in our life anymore. And these life symbols which people rely on to keep their feeling of well-being, that life is not too bad after all, are required more and more.”
Embrace the rituals in your day.