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Routines, Habits, and Ritual Series

Routines, Habits, and Ritual

Begin the day by landing it

My morning begins with the vibration on my wrist. 4:45 am my watch gently shakes me from sleep. It will not stop until I tap it. Usually, I do so with my eyes mostly still closed. I am not awake enough for ritual. This is instinct, this is habit. This is routine.

4:50 and the moon starts to glow on my nightstand. Not the literal moon. A lamp I’ve named “moon” because Alexa kept getting confused by “light” for some reason. I am vaguely aware of the soft light.

5:00 am. The light has grown much brighter and now Alexa is making a beautiful noise. By now I’m usually on the verge of waking. Rarely, I’ll beg Alexa to snooze; she always does when asked. Most days, however, I ask her to “stop” and then I get my feet onto the floor as quickly as possible so that I don’t fall back to sleep. Depending on how awake I am, my hands go up in the air as I triumphantly proclaim “landed it!”

I awake grateful for another dawn, another chance to mindfully go through the day.


The transformation of the profane into the sacred

We often think of places that are sacred and holy as also being ancient or at least older than we ourselves are. I was surprised to learn that the wailing wall was considered a secular place until the late 1970s, early 1980s. It wasn’t until I was reaching my first double-digit birthday, after the Six Days War, that the Western Wall became one of the most commonly known holy sites.

How does a location, or a person, or a set of actions, go from secular to sacred?

To go from being merely a holy person to becoming a saint requires multiple steps, beginning with a waiting period (that starts at the end of the person’s life) and moving subsequently through the other steps until the final canonization by the Pope.

But what of actions? How does a routine or a habit become something sacred, become a ritual?

Thankfully, the transformation from a set of actions that form a routine into those that form a ritual requires far less formality. At least at the personal level. (As do our personal saints as well.)

Going from routine to ritual requires very little. A pause. And an intention.


Mindfully going through the day

Some days, doing something feels like routine, sometimes like habit, other times, like ritual. What are those differences?

Routine

The act of making the bed when I first wake up. Step one to a series of actions. It is part of my routine.

Habit

The act of making the bed when I first wake up. It is a habit that starts as soon as my feet hit the floor, without much thought.

Ritual

The act of making the bed when I first wake up. It transitions me from one space into another. From the realm of sleep into the realm of waking. It solidifies and grounds me. When I am aware of the moment, and bring the intention of my day to it, it is transformed from habit and routine into ritual.


Questions to bring yourself forth into the world

Does it begin with the alarm or do you need more time to come present?

Does it begin with making the bed or with brushing your teeth or drinking your first cup of coffee?

Maybe by sitting down with a book or by feeding your furry companions?

At what moment, will you pause to acknowledge being awake and alive again?

At what point will you remember who you are in the world and what you want to give and experience during this short journey?

At what point will your life become something sacred?


Featured image by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

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