Rituals

Life moves fast. Sometimes it’s in blurred chunks of time moving so quickly we can barely be present to them, let alone recall them after they fade into the past. And sometimes, it slows profusely (like right now as I type this from bed with a most agonizing flu), making every single moment feel somehow endless. These are the extreme ends of the spectrum, of course. Most of us, hopefully, live more balanced and fulfilling day-to-day lives where our daily routines—whether we’re aware of it or not—help us to appreciate the moments and connect with ourselves on deeply important levels.

And while even unconscious, those acts can have some healthy benefits. You can, however, vastly improve your quality of life by being totally present to your daily routines, and turning them into daily rituals. Having rituals can help you de-stress, become more compassionate, mindful and present, no matter how slow or fast it seems in the moment. Here are a few daily routines you’re already likely practicing. But do you observe them with total presence? Try turning them into rituals and see if the experiences change.

1. Cooking: A good general rule—even when traveling—is that you “prepare” yourself at least one meal per day. At home that can certainly be anything. On the road, it could be sliced fruit, a muffin and a cup of tea in your hotel room. Whatever it is, there is a hugely important self-nurturing benefit to preparing food for yourself. Prepare it and eat it with mindfulness and remember, you are what you eat—that includes the energy that goes into making each meal, too.

2. Exercise: Do you workout? Daily? Even if it’s only a few times per week, this routine is incredibly important for your health, and it’s an excellent way to check-in with where you’re at spiritually and psychologically. In my yoga practice, postures can be easy one day and challenging the next. Being present to that allows me to check in, honor where I’m at and hear what my body is telling me.

3. Tea Break: This is a favorite tradition around the world. A daily afternoon break for something warm and soothing is a tremendous way to nurture the body, calm the mind and focus the spirit on a few quiet minutes to reflect, rejuvenate and restore our vital energy. Be present to it. Turn off the cell phone. Make it a ritual, sip by sip.

4. Meditation: Whether or not you have a spiritual or religious practice makes no difference in whether or not you meditate. It’s often tied in with various spiritual paths, but you can make it entirely your own; and it’s one of the very best ways to check in…and check out at the same time. Sitting quietly and focusing on your breath can bring the speediness or (miserable flu-induced) slowness to a temporary stasis. This can be very beneficial for your mental and physical health.

5. Get outside: Most of us are in and out all day, going from building to vehicle to building again…but we’re often rushing from place to place. Take some time each day, even when it’s blustery and cold, to get outside. Maybe it’s your exercise time too, or your teatime. But a few, even incredibly brief, minutes outside, preferably near something naturally green, can boost mood and health.

6. Bathing: Whether you shower at night before bed or in the morning to start your day, bathing is one of the oldest and most sacred human rituals. While we now rush through it most of the time, make your bathing routine a personal and reflective experience. Remember how lucky we are to have running water and cupboards full of fragrant soaps and cleansers. Bringing a bit of honor and gratitude to your daily cleansing routine cleanses more than just your body, it renews the spirit and soul, too.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: visual panic