Rituals: Infuse Your Daily Life With Meaning
Art Credit: Daily Ritual by Linsey Kerin-Conell
A ritual is anything we do that is repeated and in a particular manner. I love rituals. I find an abundance of pleasure connecting my regular tasks to meaning.
The simple rituals I sprinkle throughout my day create a sense of importance, help me stay present, and leave me with fodder for reflection and self-growth.
Rituals create intimacy with everyday life.
When we connect to ourselves and our actions with intention and attention through our senses, we become more sensitive, more aware, and present.
The main difference between a routine and a ritual is the attitude behind the action. Rituals have the power to provide energy, enjoyment, and a sense of purpose. They also create opportunities to connect with moments of reverence and touch our values and longings more deeply. Moving through the day and infusing mindfulness into our tasks has the potential to transform the ordinary into moments of joy and potent connection – to ourselves and to these precious lives we're shaping moment by moment.
To create a ritual:
Connect with an intention. This is your personal "why" for engaging in the ritual. Why are you doing this? What values does it connect with for you? Why is it important? Intentionality is crucial when establishing a ritual so your task doesn’t become automatic or void of meaning.
Tie it to a regular event or time. Try a ritual upon waking up, eating, or Saturday mornings, etc.
Define a beginning, middle, and end. Creating a "container" for your ritual can help it feel more special and sincere. This can be as simple as beginning and ending your ritual by lighting/blowing out a candle, ringing a chime bell, taking a deep breath, pausing, or placing a hand over your heart. This container will also help remind you to shift out of the typical autopilot mode of doing and into a very intentional mode of being and receiving so you can take in the fullness and nourishment of your experience.
Infuse the ritual with emotional energy. Allow yourself to get fully present and engage with one or more of your senses. Once you are connected to the experience, gently notice what emotion the ritual is connected to (peace, love, joy, connection, hope, reverence, etc). Allow yourself to feel the emotion for a few moments, perhaps taking a couple of easy deep breaths to allow the emotion to resonate. You could also experiment with adding elements that offer emotional energy – for example, you could create a playlist to dance around to while cooking dinner or light a candle or both! This energy is refreshing and can also help amplify your experience.
Below are a handful of simple ideas for creating new rituals or transforming some of your daily experiences into rituals:
New Year's Reflections / Intentions Worksheet
The beginning of a new year can be a beautiful threshold and a marker of letting go, change, and potential. To welcome in the new year, you might enjoy exploring this 2022 Reflections, 2023 Intentions Worksheet. You can print out the worksheet or grab a journal, get a cup of tea, find a cozy space, turn on some gentle music, and take your time to sit with the questions. See if you can approach this as a journaling meditation – pausing to read each question and then sitting for a few breaths (or minutes) to leave space for any answers to arise. If you have a meditation pal or friend/family member who might appreciate this process, it can be a very meaningful activity to share.
Create a "Small Moments" Jar
You can do this alone or with others. Pick a cadence that is reasonable for you (each day, once a week, etc.) to jot down a moment worthy of celebration. Empty the jar each month to read and reflect on your bounty of small, beautiful moments.
Establish a Gratitude Ritual
Each day (at the same time, if possible), make a little bit of intentional space for gratitude. This can be as simple as sharing one thing you're grateful for at the dinner table before eating, or thinking of someone or something you feel grateful for before you get out of bed.
Pause Every Single Day
Even if it's only for one minute, a few breaths, or a moment of silence, touching into yourself and your mindfulness practice every day has a profound impact. We love the invitation from teacher Thich Nhat Hanh to wake up each morning, open your eyes, and before doing anything else, pause to recite the following words:
Waking up this morning I smile knowing there are 24 brand new hours before me. I vow to live fully in each moment, and look at beings with eyes of compassion.
Longer meditations are good, and important, but some days we only have space for a brief touch-in. Remember that even a moment or two of pause will support you in greater wakefulness and fulfillment.
Journal a Few Lines
Protect a small window of space each day to journal. This could be 5 minutes (or even less). You could write stream of consciousness or write on a specific theme or topic (e.g. gratitude, personal learnings/growth, relationships, etc). If you're looking for a wonderful journal, the 5 Year Journal from Levenger is simple, lovely, and allows you to reflect on and remember each day of the year for five years.
Light a Candle
Light a small tea light candle upon rising and set an intention for the day. You could do this during a brief 5-10 minute morning meditation. Blow the candle out when you're done meditating, or allow the candle to continue to burn while you move about your morning.
As you clean your face and your body, offer appreciation for yourself. Your body does so much for you. It breathes itself. Your heart beats without you asking for anything in return, circulating your blood and nourishing your tissues. Your digestive system is functioning, ready for the intake of the day to transform into nutrients vital to your wellbeing. You are nothing short of amazing!
Savor a Few Sips of Coffee or Tea
Pause before your first sip of coffee or tea to FULLY savor the experience. Try to release any multitasking or other activities and sit down. You might hold the cup in both hands, close your eyes, and feel the warmth expanding into your fingers and palms. Experience the texture of your cup. Watch the steam dancing. Breathe deeply and take in any pleasant aromas. Then slowly and intentionally take your first sip. Savor it all the way down into your belly. Take a few SLOW, intentional sips in this way and notice how it makes you feel. (If you haven't seen this short Ally McBeal skit on savoring coffee, check it out – it's brilliant!)
Send Someone Loving-Kindness
Give yourself just 5 minutes (or more if you are able) to sit quietly and offer a thought of loving kindness or well wishes to someone you know. For example, you could think of a dear friend and silently say to them in your mind, or in a whisper, "May you feel moments of ease today. May you experience moments of joy and peace in your heart." Use or phrases or words that feel most natural and connecting for you.
New Moon / Full Moon Reflections
During the new and full moons, reflect on what you have learned over the past two weeks (you could get a moon calendar to help you track). You may think about what went well and what you’ve learned from mistakes or interactions. If possible, connect with others to share.
Consider writing down what no longer serves you on scrap paper and burning it. Or light another tea candle and allow it to burn away. Let go as often as you like.
Nicole Rush is Pause's Community Manager and an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. Meditation is like digestion for the mind, guiding us to a place where we are able to let go of what no longer serves us, we can recognize the true self within, always there to guide us.
Our days are filled with activities that sometimes feel less than extraordinary, such as cooking dinner, doing the laundry or walking the dog. But, if we pay attention, we will recognize the richness and abundance in the seemingly mundane. We don’t have to wait for a special day to find joy and happiness — it’s available now.
In 2018, Nicole traveled to the mountains of Kathmandu to complete her yoga and meditation teacher training. She also holds a Yoga Nidra certification and a Bachelor of Fine Art from Marylhurst University. Outside of wellness practices, Nicole finds joy in poetry, knitting, long walks, French films and her ever-vibrant family.