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Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Do you have a ritual that you love, and could ritual provide happiness and reduce our unhelpful habits?

Rituals can allow us to feel connected and they serve us, much like signposts guiding and supporting us on our journey through our day and life. Your morning wash or cup of tea can be a ritual, and so can the celebration of the first veggie from your home garden. Of course, in yoga we have ritual in practice, but I am talking here of our daily experience. I now find I am drawn to meaningful, supportive ritual and on reflection, I think this might be what I have needed for a while. Whether it is my age, the pandemic or something else, it feels right.

I have a morning ritual. I rise at 6:30/7:00 pm and feed my senior dog, then take her for a short walk and I meditate. I have done this every day for the past 6 years. Even when I am tired the walk brings the life sustaining sun and fresh air into my being and it rouses me, marking the start of my day. I have now added a new ritual to my early morning. I ride my bike or walk and listen to the birds and greet the neighbours and their dogs. I focus on the wind in the trees, my breath, the rhythm of my steps on the earth.

If I didn’t take my longer walk or bike ride, I would be in front of my computer. It turns out, this is not beneficial or a way to increase my feelings of wellbeing. When I came to my computer early, I didn’t have energy or the increased feelings of happiness that I have when I connect with nature. My meditation is always wonderful and supportive, but the addition of nature and movement is transformative. I feel enriched and sustained when I make a routine of taking in beauty and movement at the beginning of my day. It is now part of my morning ritual.

Upon reflection of my new ritual, I noticed that I have replaced an old habit that wasn’t supportive. We are always looking to change habits. I am certainly hard on myself and always looking to improve but maybe we could all give ourselves permission to move forward from where we are in the current moment? What if we were less hard on ourselves? What if we thought of a supportive new ritual and not worry about our faults for a moment? Would it make it easier?

We speak in yoga about our patterns of thought that we develop. Many are deeply ingrained. Let us choose our new ritual without worrying about what needs to be changed or what is negative with our behaviour. While I think we all must look at our unhealthy or helpful patterns, what if for once we were so hard on ourselves and we considered a wonderful new ritual/daily experience/pattern for our immediate wellbeing.

If this concept seems interesting, consider a new supportive meaning ritual to add to your life. It could be anything, like a daily call with a loved one, a quiet tea at the same time of day, a walk around the block after dinner. Like me, you may just unknowingly and not consciously replace an unhelpful habit and pleasantly experience the cascading effects.

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