Every morning I wake up, say thank you silently three times, then write down my dreams in a journal. I then say hello to the cat, wash my face, open the curtains to let the sunlight in and make a cup of tea.
This is my ritual for the morning.
Before I go to sleep, I write down three things I’m grateful for in my journal, close the curtains, drink a bit of warm water with lemon, kiss my husband and cat goodnight, and meditate for 20 minutes before dozing off.
This is my ritual for the evening.
These are just two of my rituals. There are more, but I just wanted to give you a little insight into what a ritual looks like in daily practice. They’re not fancy — in fact, some might find them a bit dull — but they get the job done. I’m always relaxed and focused at the start and the end of my day. That’s what matters to me.
Rituals are little routines we all have, whether we realise them or not. Some of them are complicated, some are simple, but chances are, you’ve got a few you didn’t realise existed.
I could go on about rituals — why we’ve got them, their history, the reason science says they’re important — but I won’t. I’ll just tell you that they’re important, you have at least one, and they are powerful.
I’ll say something else though, even though I’ve just told you I wouldn’t — recognising your rituals now and setting up new rituals may just change your life. And for minimalists like you and me, understanding why rituals are powerful and how we can create new ones is like finding a new world within the one we live in.
So let’s get started, shall we?
What Makes Rituals So Powerful?
Rituals are the routines that set us up for whatever we’re about to do. For me, having a morning ritual sets me up for my day — as a freelancer, as a creator, as a wife and mum to a very loving cat — and gives me a calm and focus I don’t know if I would have otherwise. For you, it might be something else entirely.
But there are other reasons that rituals — whether you recognise them or not — are powerful. I’ve listed a few below, but I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with a few more on your own.
Part of a ritual’s power is the fact that you’re focusing on yourself.
Most rituals are centred on giving yourself some love and encouragement — in another word, it is an act of self-love. It’s a few moments in your life where you’re focusing on bringing balance, love and harmony to yourself. And that’s a power all of us need more of.
Rituals also set an intention — for our day, for an event, or even for a daily practice. Taking a few minutes each day to reset your intention in your mind through ritual movements can reinforce your goals for whatever it is you’re about to undertake.
An intentional ritual, such as a ritual you undergo before a big work presentation or right after you wake up to the lovely chatter of children, also brings your focus to the result you want on any given day.
By setting the intention — to be relaxed, to be powerful, to be calm — and reinforcing it with a ritual, you are training your mind, body, heart and soul to that intention. You will be more aligned with what you want and how to get it.
We could all do with a little more mindfulness,. Thankfully, that’s what rituals give us. We are mindful of our actions through ritual because we know there’s a pattern — first we do one thing, then we do the next, etc, and so on. We’re focused on each part, and through that comes something I call clarity of consciousness, which is a fancy phrase that means we’re in the moment of our actions.
Mindfulness in rituals is incredibly important. Coupled with intention and self-love, it shifts our mindset from the fast track to a slow crawl, allowing us to see and feel everything around us with a clarity that gives us purpose in our actions. And through the mindfulness of rituals, we begin to develop mindfulness throughout our entire lives.
Create Your Own Ritual
So now you know why rituals are powerful, but perhaps you’re not clear on how to create an intentional ritual that would help you. Maybe you think you haven’t got enough time to make a ritual or that you don’t even know what you’d want a ritual for.
So let’s talk about it. Here are three quick things to keep in mind when creating a ritual. Yes, these are general, but they’ll help you start on your own path to a ritual. But that’s a good thing, because rituals can be quite personal and may only work for you.
Set the Stage
Before I created my own rituals in the morning, I was a mess. You can ask my husband. Groggy, cranky and completely useless, I would stumble through until mid-morning when I would miraculously become coherent.
That’s fine if you haven’t got a job or are on holiday. But as it turns out, I have got a job and wasting half the morning trying to wake up was not working out for me. I would feel rushed the whole day, so I had to set the stage for a ritual that would get me straight and focused for my work.
Setting the stage for a ritual just means understanding what you need the ritual for — perhaps you have a habit of being late for work, or you can never find time to do a home spa day, or you have trouble focusing on a project. You, and only you, can decide what ritual will fit for what you need.
So my suggestion for you is to think about what you could use a ritual for and then begin to set the stage for it by building a list of actions you can take to get you ready for whatever that ritual is being used for. Most of the time these will be small actions, but string them together and you have a powerful ritual.
Set the Intention
Once you’ve decided what your ritual will be for and you’ve set the stage, take the time to set the intention. This will be what your mind focuses on while doing the ritual.
Setting the intention is going to take time, particularly if you’ve never done a ritual consciously before. Don’t worry, everyone goes through this. Just try your best to keep your mind focused on how the ritual aides you in whatever comes next.
For example, you’re creating a ritual so you won’t be late for work, bring your mind back again and again to the idea that you will be on time and relaxed for work. Each step through the ritual should reinforce that intention. Each step should also help you towards that goal — don’t bring in a ritual step that takes you away from that goal.
Set Your Determination
There’s no way around it — if you create a ritual and an intention but you don’t stick to it, it will not work for you. You must be determined to see the ritual through, at least for a week or so. Truthfully, you should try a ritual out for 21 days in order to make it a habit, so try your hardest to see it through until then.
Determination is what powers most rituals through. You may not see euphoric results within a week, but most likely, you will see it in a couple of weeks. Stick with it.
I’ll you something about determination, though, and I found this out through rituals — I have more determination than I thought I did. It’s amazing what a little pep talk to keep on with rituals can do for you, and I promise it can work the same for you.
Rituals are powerful tools in helping us create the best possible life for ourselves. Hopefully now you’ll create some of your own in order to transform your life.
If you have any ritual tips and tricks, share them with us! We’re happy to hear your suggestions because who knows? You may have a tip that will help us all create more powerful rituals.