Little Rituals Everywhere
the Art of the Sacred Pause
Sitting in her car after our first lunch “date” together, my new friend popped the dreaded question:
How do you stay so grounded? Do you do daily ritual?
I cringed. I’m a Gemini after all — we don’t do daily anything except breathe and even that is sometimes optional.
But when you do the type of work that I do in the world (back me up on this acupuncturists, massage therapists, and earth mammas) there are perceptions to either live up to… or not.
They go kind of like this:
You wake up at 5:30 AM to meditate.
You say 3 things that you are grateful for before going to bed at night… every night.
You never eat without a prayer.
You are vegan (or vegetarian or paleo depending on what the preconceiver thinks is the “right” diet).
You smile beneficently when someone treats you horridly.
You only see the good in everyone, especially the person who just rear-ended you and is proceeding to scream both at you and at some poor soul on the other end of his cell phone. You smile beneficently.
I know that there are people out there (and you may be one of them) who are calmed and soothed by daily routine and beneficent smiling.
This post is for those of you who aren’t.
My husband is a daily routine kinda guy (although he has yet to master the art of the beneficent smile). He will happily eat the same thing for breakfast every morning.
I, on the other hand, wake up and think about what I want to eat for breakfast, when I want to eat breakfast, and if, perhaps, I really want brunch instead.
That’s a lot of thinking.
My brain would happily run the entire show, bullying me through my days. This is where the meditating and gratitude-reciting comes in.
I am a fan of both. I’m just not a fan of tying yourself to doing something every day at a certain time unless this actually brings you peace and happiness.
For those of you who prefer less structure, I am an advocate of the Little Rituals Everywhere route. This path is peppered with moments that align you with your heart, your breath and the synchronicities of everyday life, but each of these moments are unscheduled surprises.
Here are the rules for walking the Little Rituals path:
1. Serendipity happens. All the time. Notice. Be grateful. Take a deep breath and smile (beneficently, if you like).
2. Notice your surroundings as you move through them. Pause to smell the roses, make small adjustments in the arrangement of stones on your coffee table, wash the dishes in the sink. Notice how these pauses, and this attention to your surroundings, allow you to align your inner landscape with the outer landscape.
3. Keep candles and sage, sweetgrass and frankincense on hand. Have a bunch of essential oils or crystals or tarot cards nearby. Know where your journal is and maybe some art supplies. And then (and this may be radical for some of you!) allow these things to be used, in the moment, when you feel the need, or desire, or simply want to capture the colors of the sky in a tone poem.
This is the Sacred Pause.
The moment when a tiny knock from the universe becomes more important than balancing your checkbook or checking Facebook.
This doesn’t mean you drop everything and run off to the nearest retreat center to get your soul straight. It means that you are aware, in the moment, of the need to realign and you pause to do it right then instead of scheduling it for the weekend or your next trip to Kripalu.
If you listen to your heart’s longings, you’ll find that your life is littered with little rituals everywhere.
They are small gems set within the daily: a few stones you piled by the back door because it felt right, three deep breaths of rose essential oil, hugging the oak tree in your back yard (don’t worry, no one was looking!).
Back in the car, with my new friend, I guiltily admitted that, no, I don’t wake up at dawn every day to greet the sun and sometimes I miss the exact apex of the summer solstice.
She smiled (beneficently) and said “But I bet your day is full of little moments of wonder.”
I heaved a huge sigh of relief.
This one’s a keeper.