I am just one of those people. I demand of myself that I be a high performance professional, yet I have the propensity to want to be lazy which leads me to bad habits like procrastination. I can eat clean no problem, but every now and again I can eat 6 Twinkies in a row if I fall out of the habit of knowing what I’m eating at next mealtime. For me I have learned that habits are not enough, my goals and ways of wanting to live my life must be backed by rituals.
Rituals are a series of actions performed in a prescribed order. Some may think of this in terms of ceremony, but I like to apply it to life. For instance, we rise in the morning, go into the bathroom and brush our teeth. But what if we rose in the morning, stretched and greeted the sun in a sun salutation pose. Went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and said “Good morning love!” One set of actions takes us from just doing into actually BEing. The last option just feels like it’s going to produce a better day and stack the odds in your favor that if something goes awry, you’re emotionally equip to handle it. In order to apply this to a larger scale, I’ve come up with “Sunday Rituals” that I’d like to share. Maybe you’ll get some ideas for yourself, or maybe you’ll decide that you’re not ready to change. We all have choices.
For me, Sunday rituals actually start on Saturday evening. I go through the time to prepare a Turmeric Tea. This means that I’ve already been to the Farmers Market earlier that day to get fresh ginger and my weekly produce. I take the time to grate the ginger and add all of the ingredients to the blender. From there I transfer to the stove to heat in a small saucepan. The time that it takes to do this process for myself forces me to slow down, and reiterates to my subconscious that I am worth this investment into my health and well being. This tea will drift you off into a sound sleep, and it is healing as it has medicinal, probiotic, and anti-viral properties. I make it every night as it’s become just as much of a ritual as washing my face. I can make myself tea at night, or I can make tea. There is a difference and I felt it right away.
Sunday mornings for some mean church, and it does for me too…but my church looks different. After I make my fresh smoothie, or brew my organic coffee and add my coconut milk, (I’m going to drink coffee anyway, might as well make it healthy) you can find me in my truck heading to my version of church. My church is a stable full of 5 precious gifts from God who are on loan from HIM for me to take care of. Feeding them feeds my soul. Cleaning their stalls is akin to me “dumping” my mind of needless crap. Setting their stalls with fresh bedding, hay, and clean water in just scrubbed buckets, prepares and rebalances their sanctuary for them to come in from the weather to. Fetching my horse from the pasture, grooming her, tacking up and riding, is me communing with nature which to me is talking to God.
On my way home from the barn, I always stop to wash and vacuum my truck. While washing it may not make sense weather wise some Sundays, Jennie the GMC get’s a minimum of a vacuum and interior wipe down weekly. I have found that the better that you take care of your tools, the better you are taken care of in return. It’s mutual respect that propels a simple and meaningful life. That’s my Sunday morning ritual and it fills me for a week ahead.
When I return home at 10:30/11 am, it’s time for a big healthy brunch with my husband and son. From there we play and listen to music as we tidy our own sanctuary so that it’s stocked and prepared for the week with clean clothes and daily necessities. I pick out my wardrobe for the work week, and lay out my riding and farm chore clothes. I shower and apply a facial mask and maybe flip through a magazine while it dries. I dress in “play clothes” as we have no idea which way the wind will take us for the day. To the playground? On a bike ride through the park? Down to the train station to sit on the platform and people watch while counting trains? We follow our bliss on Sundays and it’s a ritual of ours. We can make play a “habit”, or we can make it meaningful by backing it with a ritual that melts this time into the concrete of our family’s foundation.
There are some variations to my Sunday rituals however, not every ritual within the ritual is the same. For instance, every Sunday afternoon I have time dedicated to being in the home office. But, if it’s the beginning of the month, then I use that time to pay the monthly invoices and balance the books. If it’s any Sunday after, I take my home office time to answer emails, conduct research, continue drafting proposals, outline my upcoming courses, edit my e-books or write letters. I take an ice cold glass of kombucha in with me, I blast rap music or classic rock depending on my mood and I turn into a boss ass bitch. I get it in and I get it done. While the office time happens every Sunday without fail, what happens inside of that dedicated space of time can vary which keeps things fresh. For me just the ritual of walking up the stairs, the tea and the added background music, triggers my brain into work mode. I get to unleash the creativity that gets pent up when I must chose instead to fold the laundry or run the errand during the week in lieu of creating. Leaving my creativity inside of me for too long in a trade off to get things done makes me uncomfortable. For me, it’s best to have a ritual that is dedicated to letting it flow where it needs to go.
After dinner, either Dylan and I or we as a family, dog included, will go back to the stables to let the horses in/out for the night. We do things the same way every time; bring in one field at a time, feed them all together at once. Empty the spreader with the tractor while they eat. Go back into their stalls to top off their water buckets. Lock the stall doors, re-set grain, give apple slices through the yolks on the stall doors, close barn doors, double check locks, turn out the lights. The winding down is symbolic for us as our rest is soon coming.
Most Sunday nights it’s a movie night or everyone does their own thing in the same room. But more Sundays than not, we spend it with good friends or a nice long distance phone call for catching up. Even if we only visit for an hour, or if I’m grabbing a snack with my high school girlfriends, this is a ritual of fellowship. A ritual of embracing the love in our lives. I am mindful about creating this time dedicated to people that enrich life.
All of the above can be made into habits, but I see that as being no different then just actions while the mind wanders into unsettled territory. Having a ritual to prepare for the week ahead adds life to the tasks. It gives them meaning, spirit, and value. It forces you to be present in the moment, and that’s when the magic happens. The realization are come to, and the inspiration to do something hits.
In between each ritual, taking time to play and wonder is the key to springing even more meaning into the practice…and it is a practice. Yogis and Buddha’s are not born perfect in the pose or a pro at meditation, they take initial steps to ritualize. They take what works for them, and then leave the rest. From there, they build upon those steps as their lives evolve and their needs for practice changes. We as humans are incredibly adapt to change…we’ve just been fed a bullshit line that we are not. Creating rituals of preparation is grounding and places your full self into the moment. Doing this actually grants you the ability to practice change on your terms. You have to prepare yourself for life a head anyway, why not do it in a way that creates more mindfulness.
Once the day has come to an official close, you can find me grating my ginger and stirring my saucepan to create my tea. No matter what variations happened inside of my Sunday rituals, I practiced mindfulness while doing them. I practiced gratitude. I had fun and while I did it I became willfully prepared for whatever the coming week has in store for me. My intentions have been set, and I am willing to allow the Universe to send me great opportunities that all of my preparations have me well balanced to catch. To think that all of this started with grating some ginger for some tea.