Rituals

Rituals are a basic need with humans just as much as air, food, shelter and clothing.  They keep us sane when things go awry (or even worse, when the whole Earth falls out from under us).

They work toward even helping us get past blocks and barricades (self or otherwise induced);  they keep us on a path where we know we nee to be; they encourage, inspire and enlighten us.  I’m a great believer in these often very simple and minor acts and the major results we can accomplish with the help of rituals.

They are also celebratory – something as simple as a cake with candles to blow out – getting in the car in the morning and running through the sequence of  safety practices (check the rear view/side mirrors for placement, check the brakes, check the path forward or backward that it’s clear and that sort of thing) – starting work in our office with a set of  to-do’s that help you get set for the day’s job – preparing to sit down to read a good book.  All these have rituals connected to them that we might not even realize, but they put us in a mood for that event and act as a way for us to transition from one mode of action to another.

For example, before I work in my garden I gather my tools, plan my plantings, check my equipment and walk around to check the garden for space and I’m ready to start.

Before I start cooking in the kitchen, I may fix a beverage (tea or a glass of beer if it’s an evening meal), get my recipes out and before I even start to work, think about what I’m doing and planning out how the events will take place – the dessert is made first, potatoes go in, veggies started, meat started, as meal is almost finished biscuits started and that way everything comes out on time.

The great thing about rituals is that they can, when repeated over and over, bring on a sense of what’s about to happen. For example when I see a cake with candles on it, I immediately know it’s a celebration of a birthday;  when I see a young lady all in white with a veil, I know she’s about to partake in a very happy event;  when I get my pot of coffee in the morning and take it to my studio, I know I’m about to start my day in m office.

Rituals not only put us in the mood for what we’re about to do, but they can make excellent transitions from one task or mood to another.

When we arise in the morning, we have a whole new list of things that we want to do with the day.  Rituals can help us organize that in such a way that put us not only in the right mind, but in a creative and receptive mind.  It’s in this state, that we not only enjoy minutes of our lives, but also the actions that we perform – whether it’s sewing, reading, cooking, gardening, biking or whatever we are undertaking.

I know when I fix my coffee pot in the morning and bring it to my studio, that’s going to be the time when I start being creative.

I have a short ritual in which I have a short little prayer,  look to see what’s on the calendar for the day, sip my coffee and plan out my day.

prayer

This is just my prayer, but it is based on the Invocation of the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey.  Here are two very good translations, one by T. E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) and the other by Howard Jones.

Starting with a ritual can seem like such a negligible part of starting a project, but once you practice it for a while, it becomes integral, and makes for a natural and easy start to a project.

And by the time I fix my second pot of coffee (I like a lot of coffee), it reminds me I should be well into my major task for the day – so as a second reminder ritual, I’m reminded to get my head and actions where my major task is for the day!

Develop a ritual that works for you – a pot of coffee, a prayer, a cup of tea, meditation, any of these start your day.

 

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