Routines? Rituals? Isn’t it all just semantics?
Short Answer: Kind of. And to be completely honest with you, I don’t care what you call it. What matters most is the intention behind what you’re doing.
Let’s break it down.
When I’m talking to clients about their routines, they usually bring up mindless acts – the things they “go through the motions” for either because they have to (cook meals) or think they do (set up a morning routine). However, rituals require us to be more intentional than that — to slow us down, help us tune in to how we feel, and get curious about how what we’re doing serves us (or doesn’t!). In other words, rituals require more mindfulness.
How to transform routines into rituals without being extra:
Not every routine has to be a ritual. In fact, it’s probably best if it isn’t so that you can truly enjoy your rituals every day rather than burn out on them. While it might be challenging to get yourself to perform a ritual, you should always feel better having completed it — kinda like working out! 😉
First, let’s start with a routine you want to make more mindful or want to begin. To lay a solid foundation, clarify why you want to do this day in and out. If you need more support for clarifying your why, check out my post on the topic. But rest assured: Once you’re clear on your why that’s when the magic happens!
Now that clear on the reason behind your ritual, it’s time to commit to being fully present each time you set out to do it. An easy way to do this is to practice noting your experience rather than judging it. (Check out this link for a meditation to help you refine your noting skills.)
Remember, judgmental thoughts can be sneaky and manifest in all sorts of ways. They may sound like, “I don’t have time for this today because…” or “I’ll do it tomorrow instead.” This sounds different for everyone, but a general rule of thumb is this: If it’s making you feel “less than” or stopping you from taking action, it’s safe to call it a judgment, and it’s time to leave those at the proverbial door.
Instead of letting your mind run on judgment mode, shift into noting mode. Noting those same thoughts in the paragraph above might sound something like, “I notice I’m feeling pressured for time.” That’s 1. totally valid, and 2. providing clarity about what’s really going on instead of postponing the inevitable and feeling shitty for not upholding this contract with yourself.
When you feel pressured for time, it’s best to be prepared with a tiny version of the ritual and noting how you feel as you do it. For example, if you want to do yoga every day but don’t have time for the 1/2 hour session you have planned, your tiny version might be doing one sun salutation. Chances are you don’t even have to change into workout gear to do it, and it’ll only take you a couple of minutes! Plus, it keeps you in the habit of doing the ritual.
Now, if you’re having difficulty completing the tiny version of the said ritual, it’s time to go back to your why. Sometimes that’s all you’ll need to get back on track, but if it doesn’t motivate you to take action on your tiny ritual, it’s a clear sign that you either 1. did not dig deep enough into your why (or maybe weren’t totally honest with yourself), or 2. need to go back to the drawing board. Both are good things because they will ultimately help you level-up your wellness game!
Examples: Making Rituals Tiny
There’s no wrong way to do this, but here are some ideas to get those creative juices flowin’:
The Full-Blow Ideal 👉🏼 The Tiny Version
Read 1 chapter a day from your new book 👉🏼 read 1 page a day from your new book
Meditate for five minutes a day 👉🏼 take three deep breaths
Workout for 1 hour 3x per week 👉🏼 do two squats, two push-ups, and hold a 30-second plank
Additional Ideas For Making Your Routine A Ritual
I cannot stress enough that there is no “right” way to build a ritual, but I know sometimes a little inspiration can go a long way:
The Routine 👉🏼 The Ritual
Taking a shower 👉🏼 Using a few drops of essential oil (drip ’em straight into the basin) to stimulate your sense of smell while showering
Cooking dinner 👉🏼 Lighting a candle before you begin prep to make it more special
Driving to work 👉🏼 Find one beautiful thing along your route to express gratitude for
Making coffee 👉🏼 Envisioning the cup/pot as your life and the coffee brewing into it as abundance (abundant energy, money, love, etc.)
The why behind each of these rituals (which I have personally done myself!) is to invite more calm into either anxiety-inducing or typically rushed spaces.
Rituals invite us to create meaningful practices that give us a sense of purpose and allow us to focus on performing the task rather than just getting it done. When we can shift away from thinking about our lives as a series of to-do lists, we can invite so much more peace and enjoyment into our days.