Habits, Rituals and Routines. Take a moment to think about yours. If you have a column for each, what actions would go in each column and why?
Routines are everywhere, from getting up and brushing our teeth, morning coffee, making the bed, showering, going to the gym, the list is endless and varies from person to person. All of those steps that get us out the door in the morning could be considered routines.
Then we have habits, things we do regularly, perhaps like coming home to pour a glass of wine and putting our feet up, throwing on the television, nail biting, and negative self-talk. These could all be considered habits because they are more involuntary and perhaps behaviours that have arisen through poor conditioning and repetition.
Then there are rituals, which are routines or habits that have more ceremony and sacredness to them. They tend to be actions that enrich life.
I think it’s important to look at how we live and ask the question do we want to be creatures of habit, or beings of ritual?
When life launches a tsunami, as it sometimes can, routines and rituals can be the grounding force that helps create some normalcy, a life vest, until the wave passes. The tricky thing about that proverbial storm is when we are in these moments, often the first thing we let go of are the routines that keep us healthy, connected and peaceful. When we become preoccupied or swept away with what’s happening, it’s easy to let habits take over. An example might be after a stressful week at work opting for a glass of wine or unhealthy snacking as a way to unwind and relax rather than consciously choosing a yoga class or walk in the forest. The latter can give us the chance to re-center and feel what’s going on, so we can learn and grow; but it takes practice. We can become automated and slip into easy self-soothing and sometimes unhealthy patterns when we feel like we are drowning. I have great news: none of us will drown, we just need to get intentional. We have the capacity to slow it down by turning our routines into rituals and shedding some light on our less useful habits, so we can see them for what they are. When we anchor ourselves in rituals, we ride the waves and become the captain of our ship.
How you ask? Well, let’s go back to that morning coffee as an example. It’s as simple as it gets. It’s how I start every day. I see it for what it is, an addiction, but I’ll save that for another blog. I take pleasure in it so much so that I’ve turned it into a ritual. I have a special mug, and before I start my day I take 20-30 minutes with my two favourites, coffee and my hubby. I light a candle, open the blinds, make my warm elixir and sit in the same spot. I smell it, notice the temperature of the cup within my hands and often hear the jingle ‘ the best part of waking up……’. My husband, Trevor and I take this particular time in the day, before our kids get up and the waves begin, to sit and connect with ourselves and one another. I find this simple ritual so enjoyable that once I’m done, I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way. Yes, the jolt of caffeine definitely helps too. 😉
All it takes to turn a habit or a routine into a ritual is awareness and appreciation. When we inject some mindfulness into our routines we can find a deep gratitude for the simple things, like a meal, brushing our teeth, getting ready for bed and waking up in the morning. These small things can become daily rituals and can create more presence, which is what so many of us are seeking.
Coming to yoga is a beautiful way to find some ritual in life. When you walk in, notice the smell, the person at the desk, take time to lock eyes and say a genuine hello, notice how you walk, take in the room and its energy, roll out your mat and sit (or lay) for a moment. At the end of class, take your time! I can’t stress this one enough.
Life is happening now, the rituals are now, you are the ritual. When we live a life full of rituals it can elevate our consciousness so we stay grounded, our hearts open and ready to see and receive all of the bounties (lessons) the universe has to offer.
Now, back to my coffee.
By Nicole Whitman