Let's talk about routines and rituals. I posted something last week on social media about routine, and I realised how many people struggle with routine.
I've always struggled with routine. On many occasions I have decided to start a new ‘routine’ only to give up after a day or two. For years I thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn't stick to a routine. Over the years I have wanted desperately to regularly follow a routine and make things a daily habit, and I just could not manage to do it. I would beat myself up because I could not commit to a new daily habit. It's fair to say it really bugged me.
Years down the line, older and somewhat wiser I realise I could care less about routine, and I am simply not built for it. Routine feels to me something that is task driven, it's like having a list of things to do, and the list feels long.
Of course there is nothing wrong with that if that's what works for you, but it's not for everyone. Some will thrive with that structure, and others like myself simply won't. Realising this was very liberating for me, and has led me to another far more fulfilling path.
I began to notice there are many things I do daily, weekly, and occasionally which I do not consider routine, they are what I have come to know as ritual. The act of ritual is sacred, I perform them with love rather than obligation. I do not need to do them, rather I choose to do them as they bring purpose to my life
So what is the difference?
According the dictionary a routine is described as;
‘A sequence of actions performed regularly followed, performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason’
A ritual is described as;
‘A ritual is a way of behaving or a series of actions which people regularly carry out in a particular situation, because it is their custom to do so’
It is considered the emotion behind the act is what distinguishes between the two. I think there can be an assumption that rituals are religious acts. This is not the case at all, of course there are religious rituals, but making your morning coffee is equally a ritual. The care you give to placing the correct amount of coffee in a pot, allowing the water to pour over the coffee at the correct temperature, waiting for the coffee to brew, and savoring
the taste of the first mouthful is a ritual.
You may not realise it but I am quite sure there are many things you are doing as a ritual daily. Take a moment or two to think about the things you do daily being fully present in the moment. I am sure there are quite a few.
Living with more ritual rather than routine is a very rewarding experience. When we are becoming more present in our actions we have more gratitude for each moment, and we are living in the now, which of course is something we all need to be practising as much as we possibly can.
Rituals are also a great lesson in mindfulness, as we are becoming the witness, we are observing. This is also a great tool to use to help you with your meditation practice. By being conscious and present in moments throughout our day, when we then sit in meditation and witness our mind it's not quite such unfamiliar territory, as we have been experiencing it more throughout the day. This is a tried and tested way of teaching meditation.
Next time you get into the shower, take your time to become present. Thank the water, it is a blessing after all. Step under the water and feel the water wash away your troubles. Similarly when you make your bed, bless the bed for the comfort it gives you after your day, this is the place your body rejuvenates overnight, smooth your sheets down with love.
Bringing more ritual into your life is an effective way of adding richness to each day. If you're like me, quit doing the things you don't like, and bring meaningful practices into your day. Do things you will accomplish with the right attitude, as and when you choose to do them.