april spotlight on: ritual

My daily first ritual, almost without fail, is a cup of coffee, preferably with a splash of almond milk, preferably in my big yellow mug. There is joy in that first sip, and also in the act of holding the warm cup with two hands. When you work freelance and make your own schedule, your days are often varied and sporadic (which can be exciting and interesting, a major reason why freelancers chose this work life). If the rest of my day is a whirlwind of constant change and flux, my first ritual is a reassurance.

We perform rituals because they create order, familiarity, and comfort, and it’s in our nature to seek out comfort. Think about the number of daily rituals you do, from the moment your eyes open (maybe when your eyes open is a ritual in itself), to the moment you close your eyes at night.

April is the month that many people choose to cleanse and purify their bodies and lives, to wake up sluggish digestion, to clean out closets and junk drawers, to purge all that excess stuff we’ve acquired over the winter months. Let’s also examine our rituals, purge the unnecessary ones and bring mindfulness back to the ones that give us meaning. Brushing your teeth is (hopefully?) a daily ritual, one that gives meaning (you take care of your teeth, you had good oral health), but is easily accomplished mindlessly (it doesn’t require contemplation or even that much attention). What if we brought the art of mindfulness back into the rituals of everyday life, the most mundane, the most banal? What would that look like? How would it change our lives? Would it change our lives?

The writer Alvin Toffler says this: “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” The practice of mindfulness in mundaneness gives us a chance to be amazed (or re-amazed) at the smallest things, like a warm coffee mug in your hands, and your teeth.

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