I chose the word ritual, and not habit – because, rituals are endowed with a sense of something special, sacred and spiritual. For many non-religious people, like myself, we tend to lack meaningful rituals in our life. Saying grace before a meal, a weekly prayer with family, special events marked by religious calendars – these are all part of a religious person’s life. And they are special, they give time for pause, reverence and gratitude. And we should all have that.
Here are just a few rituals that allow us to bring a sense of connection into our lives. Whoever we are. A connection to the natural world around us, to the peace and quiet that is within us, the vibrant stillness of life that we can all tap into and feel awed by. Feeling awe and gratitude enrich our lives, but we have to make space for that to happen. By creating rituals like the ones I will share with you, we can bring in something special to every day, week, month or season. Something that feels magical and special. Something to let us know, our lives are rich – not just mundane plodding thorough the week – but each day is a gift. We can honour that by mindfully performing special rituals that give thanks for our lives, even when we’re just preparing to go to work on a Monday morning.
On arising, at a time that suits you (but not before getting too busy), make a ritual gesture to the new day. Look outside – or go outside, open your arms wide, and stand for a moment. This gesture shows that you are ready to embrace the day. You can add some thanks to this new day too. If you like, you can say some words that add structure to this sweet ritual.
* I am thankful that I am here for this new day. I am open and ready to live each moment of this day. I am grateful for being here, to experience this world and my life. *
(Artwork by myself – GreenbirdArt.Co)
This can be as simple, or as rich as you like. Take some time for gratitude. Make it one of the rituals that really sticks – to be grateful. Every day, find at least three things to be grateful for. To make this a bit more beautiful (other than just thinking it – although that is fine and so rewarding), you can have a gorgeous notebook and pen, and keep it on a shelf full of beautiful things. Objects that you find meaning in. Pictures, tokens of nature, feathers, gem stones etc. Beautiful little reminders than have come from your life. Make the notebook a part of this. You can use it as a great way to wind down for the night. Light a candle or incense if you like. Incense is a delightful way of clearing the air. Breathe, pause, write, be grateful. This could be an evening ritual that happens as soon as you get in from work. It helps the transition from day/work self, to evening/home self.
Light a candle, give thanks for the week – look forwards to the week ahead.
Let the flame be symbolic of your past, present and future. The flame that uses your past as fuel to move you forwards. The light will show you the way. A lovely little way to know that you are here now, pausing in the present, but the light is both a reflection of the week that has just been, and a torch to light the path for the week to come. Your week to come will build on the week that has just been. Just as the flame needs fuel to shine.
Some mealtimes can be made extra special by putting a table cloth out, place settings, flowers in a vase. But! Simplicity is beautiful too. Even if this is just a sandwich in the car – you can do this. Pause to look down at your meal. Notice what is there to be noticed. Aromas rising up, the colours; glistening and vibrant. Give thanks for this meal. Thank the soil, the growers, and yourself for taking goodness from this meal. Chew slowly to start with. Let the first few bites be mindful. Even three minutes is plenty (you can set a timer if you wish). Then eat as normal. Enjoy. Close the meal with joy at being satisfied. Let an inner smile warm you!
I hope these have shown you that you can find the specialness in each day, by making an effort to do something special. I think these are just wonderful ways to show a great awe that we are alive. We aren’t just existing, working, climbing ladders. We are a part of a wonderous miracle of the natural world. We are surrounded by stars, of creatures great and small. Miracles all. Rituals allow us to remember that.