The secret to Living Well Doing Well lies in the rituals we create and adopt in our daily lives. Because everything begins and ends in the mind, including our sense of happiness, therefore it is important for us to know how to create a most beautiful garden starting in the mind and the rest will follow in body, spirit, and soul. For our minds to become like a garden that’s a pleasure to walk, work or live in, it is very important we understand how to plant the right seeds so that the fragrant garden that is our minds is maintained by an eco-system that sustains itself in healthy ways. This we do through our daily rituals.
Starting a new habit is not always an easy thing as most of us have discovered during our new year resolutions. Most of the time we tell ourselves we need new habits or more likely authority figures around us tell us so because something in us needed fixing. We weren’t good enough. Drop that bad habit! Do this instead! Because of the corrective element in habits, we may actually become self-sabotaging and resistant to change. This is where rituals differ. While habits carry connotations of good or bad, rituals are more like practices we want to invite into our lives because of the beauty and meaning they create for us. In order to live a beautiful life 365 days plus 1, it stands to reason to include rituals into our daily lives that work for us as an individual.
Ritual versus Habit
So, let’s consider a ritual instead. Rituals are more than just a habit. They are based on deeply held values that matter and this is what is motivating about them. For example, one of my rituals to start the day is to just place my feet on the ground after I get up and pause there long enough to be grateful that i have yet another beautiful day to do as I please. This ritual of gratitude helps me to stay humble in the grand scheme of things called living in the world. Not many folks have this luxury of waking up, fit and healthy, nor do they all have the same degree of freedom to do as they please with their lives.
Less of me, more of Spirit
Only then do I get off the bed to open the curtains to let the light in as well as to tune in to the rest of the world as it shakes itself from sleep. I go to the bathroom, wash up and then go make that important cup of milk tea. As i sit down to drink at the window, i would look at the tree outside and wonder if the glossy black starlings would be returning today because it’s autumn and the tree isn’t fruiting as much as before. I try not to do anything else other than to just drink and savour the tea and scene. Over the years, this ritual has taught me valuable lessons in learning to slow down and to have my eyes and senses open and present to the moment before me and nowhere else. In fact, this ritual taught me the importance of waiting on the Spirit and to get out of the way so my soul gets what it needs as opposed to what I think it needs. Truly, to do less is to do more.
As without, so within
With the tea drunk, it’s now time for another important ritual – sweeping the floor of the house. You will find that this is a common practice amongst most Asian homes but in my house, we don’t bother with the vacuum cleaner. Instead we choose the more therapeutic option of slowly sweeping the floor twice a day with a soft broom. To me, this sweeping is the second most important ritual because it always precedes another ritual, meditation. Why is that so? One, we prefer to put out the cushions on a clean floor. Two, sweeping symbolises for us a clean, fresh start in more than just a physical manner. It’s about the mind, spirit, and soul as well. Hence we sweep the house out once in the morning and again just before we have our evening meditation. I hit the shower after the morning’s sweep.
What about your rituals ?
I hope by now you can see what I am trying to say here. That rituals have deep meaning for us and it is us who attach the meanings to them. So my next question is: What rituals would you create and what meanings would you attach to them that could make life more beautiful for you? How would you like to inivite more of Spirit into your life through the rituals you create? Would creating a quiet space and special alone-me time do it for you? Maybe some art journalling? Or, a walk around the neighbourhood and park not necessarily seeking out quiet but just to tune in to the rhythm of the community?
~ ॐ ~