“…you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, [but] what you really needed was the tea ceremony.” – Ann Lamott
A friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook the other day and it reminded me of a post I’d written a while ago. As we count down the days to Christmas how will you put some ritual into your routine in order to become more present and peaceful? We can so easily get carried away with the stress and anxiety of the season that we forget to enjoy the festivities.
Routine plays a large part in most of our lives I’m guessing. It certainly does in mine and my children’s lives. I get up at the same time most mornings, dig my youngest son out of bed to the usual moaning of ‘MUM! 5 more minutes’ to which I pull up his blind a few inches to remind him that a shiny new day has begun. I come downstairs, open the back door to let the dog out, put the kettle on for my morning cup of tea, turn the radio on to, get the cereal out, prepare something for my son’s school lunch, pour the tea, shout to him to get into the shower………………..and so it goes on in every house, in every town, in every country, in some shape or form.
If we are not careful we end up living our lives on autopilot and suddenly it’s the weekend again or Monday morning again and we wonder just what happened to the week or the weekend. Or worse still we look in the mirror and wonder who is that woman staring back at us? What happened to all those years? ………..Sound familiar?
“Be present – it is the only moment that matters.” ~ Dan Millman
I love this quote by Dan Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, I would like it tattooed somewhere I can see it and read it every morning! I came across it the other day and it brought me bang into the present. I have a question for you. What’s the difference between routine and ritual? For me it’s about mindfulness and purpose. Put another way it’s about our attitude toward our routine a lot of the time. So let’s take that morning cup of tea……………I usually fill the kettle, hurriedly grab a tea bag, drop it into the teapot, pop to the bathroom whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, slosh the water into the teapot, stab the bag with a teaspoon, pour quickly into my mug, dash with it upstairs and into the shower before anybody else steals my time slot in the bathroom…and so it continues.
Now, by way of example, think of the ritual involved in Japanese tea ceremonies (dip into Memoirs of a Geisha if you’ve forgotten). Think of the care, the attention and the love that goes into the whole ritual. I am immediately calmer.
Every time we make a ritual out of an activity we bring it into the present moment. We get to give our 100% focus to what we are doing. A number of years back during a Religious Studies lesson, my son had an introduction into meditation by his Buddhist teacher. The boys were each given a square of chocolate, told to place it on their tongue and do nothing apart from be aware of whatever they noticed. He came home that day with a deep respect for chocolate! Something I have never managed!
Stop for a moment and think what we could make a ritual in our life and as a result deepen our respect for something we either take utterly for granted or to which we give not a moment’s thought. What if we could be more mindful of our daily routines? Would we feel less pressured, less stressed?
I read a quote today in an article by the coach Michael Neill, he said ‘Life isn’t a journey, life just is’. I really liked that. We’re forever chasing the goals, moving forward in life, wanting more and better all the time, it’s certainly what the media wants us to strive for. It turns the heat down for me somehow and that’s exactly what I crave right now.
How could we make the ‘madness’ that is the run up to Christmas for many of us, into something much more ‘thoughtful’? Instead of racing around the town centre to do the Christmas shopping, hastily writing cards, wrapping presents at the last minute, how could we spend even just a few moments thinking about the person we’re buying for/writing a card for/wrapping a present for? Really think about them, an anecdote, a funny story, or simply feel love for that person. Would that change this routine into a ritual?
What are the routines you could make into rituals?
- Walking the dog?
- Exercise class?
- Preparing your lunch?
- Coffee with friends?
- Meditation or prayer?
- Spending time with the children?
- Getting ready for bed?
Tonight I’m going to start my gratitude journal again. It’s a little notebook I keep by the side of my bed and in it I jot down 10 things I am grateful for this day. Today mine might include:
- meeting a friend for coffee
- listening to Christmas carols
- wrapping some Christmas presents
- watching the sunshine
- the wag of my dog’s tail when I returned home
- the flash of driver’s lights as I let him pass
- the first taste of the glass of wine……….!
- thinking about how blessed I am to have met the love of my life
We can become mindful of all these small things in our daily routine. What might be on your list? Write some of yours in the comment box below.
Photo credit: visualpanic
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If you would like to read more from Rebecca, she has released an e-book called Best Knickers Always: 50 Lessons for Midlife. It is available for download via Amazon Kindle (by the way you don’t need a Kindle to do so, you can download onto your pc, iPad or phone). Here’s the link (it’s available worldwide and currently being translated into French and Spanish!).