On Rituals

For the last one year, I have logged on to a quiet Zoom room at least once a day on all weekdays to do an hour of writing. Before this session of deep work, I head to my kitchen and brew in my 20 year old moka pot, a coffee that I drink with a dash of coconut milk. 

As I sit across from a few hundred strangers around the world, and they sit across from me, I set one intention for the hour in the chat — perhaps a three hundred word intro, morning pages, a submitted assignment.

Then we cheers, and fifty focused, silent minutes of writing begins.

The past year has not been easy. But for one hour a day, all feels okay. This ritual has carried me through the last thirteen months, earmarking each day with a sense of togetherness, focus and accomplishment. It has provided grounding, and given me purpose, at a time when there is little certainty and even less in my control. 

Rituals are not simply routines. They are the intersection of habits with mindful attention. They can offer us a connection with the present moment, with ourselves, with others or with the earth. They are a shared intention, a communal kinship, a symbol of faith or imbued with meaning. They are self care.

Below are some regular habits that can be turned into rituals, which in turn can help us create normalcy and cope, in some small way, with the uncertainty of this time. 

Ritual of the day: Tend to your garden

Whatever your garden may be, tend to your garden — even if simply your houseplants or a vase with cuttings. Touch the soil and sense what it needs. Get creative with DIY stakes to offer errant plants and climbers additional support.  Water each plant slowly. Remove yellowing or dry leaves so the others can flourish.  

Rest your eyes on the hues of green, giving thanks for the absolute abundance and resilience of nature. Caring for plants can be a regular ritual and a wonderful metaphor for taking care of ourselves. 

Ritual of the day: Rest

Rest does not make us lazy, irresponsible or cruel. Rather, rest is integral to community care, giving us the ability to be engaged long term, without burning out or compassion fatigue settling in.

Rest rituals during the day can look like taking a break from screens, social media and news or using Do Not Disturb so only the people who need to reach you in an emergency can get through. 

If you find yourself picking up your phone on autopilot, deactivate your fingerprint or facial recognition and set a new passcode, so you have to pause to remember and set an intention about your phone usage — how long you will use your device or what you’re going to check.

Rest rituals at night can look like drinking a soothing beverage, using calming essential oils, changing into night clothes, putting away tech, using low light, reading or meditating so your body receives cues for winding down.

Ritual of the day: Marry tasks with visualisation

Our daily habits and chores can be elevated into rituals, through the power of visualisation. Our minds and bodies are connected — just as simply imagining a lemon being squeezed into our mouths causes us to salivate, we can reduce stress which lowers our immunity by harnessing the powerful placebo of visualisation.

Using our imagination gives us a pause from ruminating, and believing in hope and our ability to overcome difficulties, gives us resilience. 

The sky is the limit when it comes to visualisation so tap into your own needs. As an example, when you shower, envision stress leaving your body, rubbing off each worry with soap suds, and witness them pouring into the drains. As you drink water or take supplements, imagine hydration and nutrients entering your cells making them stronger and more capable. 

Ritual of the day: Write in your journal

In a time we may be disconnected from many aspects of our regular lives, journaling allows us the chance to check in and connect with ourselves daily.

Set aside time in a private and distraction-free space to get your thoughts out on the page through a simple freewriting exercise or brain dump. Focus on what’s present for you and how you are feeling and coping. Writing things down in this manner helps us create distance from our thoughts, so we can begin to process events or emotions that may feel challenging. Journalling can also help us create fresh space in our minds for more compassion and creativity.

Another ritual that can offer solace at this time is gratitude journalling — noting down what is going okay for us: a kind gesture from a friend, time out to watch a film, a good night’s rest. Gratitude allows us to maintain nuanced perspective at a time when we easily feel burdened and overwhelmed. 

Ritual of the day: A mindful morning beverage

Our daily cuppa can be reassuring. Brew yourself a cup of coffee or tea mindfully. Take a deep whiff of the coffee grounds or tea leaves, feel them between your fingers. Listen to the sound the water makes as it fills the pot, as it heats and bubbles. Feel the steam as you pour it into your mug. 

Cup your hands around it and bring them up to your cheeks. Pause with it. Then drink it slowly, engaging in no other tasks. As you sip it, name what you can taste. Savour it. Notice it’s texture and temperature in your mouth, down your throat, as it warms your belly.

By slowing down, we set the tone for the day. By using our senses, we experience the present moment fully, which helps comfort us, improve our attention and offers respite from overthinking. Do it again the following day. 

You can also find these rituals in our highlights on Instagram - thanks to Blue Tokai who invited us to share these rituals with them, we have some beautiful visuals.