The Power of Ritual #2

Happy Summer!

I know.  It’s been awhile.  I will go ahead and confess to you that I have massively fallen off the morning ritual wagon, hence, the silence. Not only that, but I have found that the further I have fallen, the more daunting the distance to get back on track.  We call that the old all or nothing thinking.”  I am my own study in terms of tackling the stuff we talk about on this platform as well as in a therapeutic setting. That said, I am taking my own insufficiency and putting it on the dissecting table for us all to poke holes in.  (I hope that didn’t gross anyone out.)

A mentor of mine always tells me that casting blame is really just diffusing responsibility.  For this reason, I will steer clear of excuses, yet will partially absolve myself in the name of research.  Is it possible that we have different seasons in the land of progress and productivity?  Perhaps one season looks like heavy writing or creating and another looks more like filling our creative and spiritual tanks.  I have definitely been in the latter season: the filling up one.  I feel like a sponge trying to absorb ideas and insight around this area of creative and personal productivity .  This has NOT been for the sake of being busy and productive, but because I believe personal fulfillment goes hand in hand with progress and growth. I believe this due to personal experience: rituals give me structure and reminders about what I deep down desire which is connection and contribution to something greater than myself.  From what I have observed and experienced, we are most toxic when we are complacent in life.  Complacency kills curiosity and desire; keeping us falsely safe in a state of numbness. 

So, without further adieu, here are a few of my favorite versions of morning rituals to help us keep up our A Game.  I have taken these from several podcasts and books and boiled them down into two types: Holistic Wellness Ritual and Creative Ritual.  I want to also give you the names of these resources because they have been hugely impactful for me lately!  Again, Rituals are meant to serve us in gaining more purpose and productivity on a daily basis.  They help remind us of what we truly desire and are working towards.  Rituals are NOT meant to be obligatory slave labor.  We must find what works for us…clearly I’m still tweaking!  Take these brief descriptions and tease them out to fit your needs.  These will hopefully serve as an infrastructure to provide clarity and fulfillment to your daily journey. help us keep up our A Game.

Holistic Wellness Ritual

(Spiritually/physically/emotionally focused)

  • Lasts anywhere between 15 minutes to 1 hour…whatever you have time for!
  • Start your day with a brisk walk combining breathing, gratitude and visualization.
  • For the first 5 minutes, just breathe.  Intentionally breathe using pulses of four and four.  So four short breaths in through the nose and four breaths out through the mouth.  Take this as slow as you would like.  Pretend like it’s your job in life JUST TO BREATHE.  Helps filter out the distractions.
  • For the next 5 minutes, while maintaining natural breathing, bring into awareness those things you are grateful for.  Gratitude is such a powerful way to gain perspective and directly reduce anxiety.  For example, silently or out loud express gratitude for your health or job or a new day.  “I am grateful for my health”…etc…  I like to draw an imaginary circle of gratitude in my awareness to keep me on track.  If you are having trouble thinking of things, repeat the things you are certain of, meditating on even one gratitude for the whole time…This may just grow into things you have been unaware of. 
  • For the next 5 minutes, start to visualize your dreams and desires for the day ahead whether this is a specific encounter at work or a performance or a preferred attitude throughout the day.  Our brains don’t know the difference between imagination and reality, so visualization is a game changer as it relates to morning rituals…it literally can reset the course of a day! 
  • That’s it!  You can continue to walk or run if you would like.  Even 15 minutes of this combination can really make a difference.

Creative Ritual

  • Lasts 30 minutes to an hour
      • Find a quiet comfortable place to be.  Coffee and/or hot tea make it more awesome!
      • In a journal, spend 10-15 minutes of free writing.  This is an unedited emptying of the mind onto paper…literally.  It can look like grocery lists, nonsense, venting, swirling, you name it.  This is meant to unblock the creative self, freeing us of the critical perfectionist who feeds off of resistance.
      • Spend the next 15-20 minutes reading.  This can be anything that you are challenged or inspired by.  It can be Dostoyevsky, a daily devotional, a comic book, or a cookbook (yes, cookbooks inspire me).  Again, this is meant to serve you! We are trying to fill up the creative tanks here.
      • Reflect in silence/meditation/or journaling.  What insights have you gained?  What observations were made? Where does this insight point you in the day ahead?
      • While the free writing is a non-negotiable, please tailor this to fit your craft. Substitute playing your instrument or sketching in a notebook instead of reading if you would like. The point of this ritual is to nurture and unlock our creative self.  The more time we spend cultivating our craft, the more we see ourselves as “writer, speaker, painter, singer, entrepreneur, etc…” The alignment of identity and behavior actualize our dreams. 

Here are some helpful tools as it relates to this thing called Ritual:

 The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron                          

The Accidental Creative Podcast -Todd Henry

The War of Art– Stephen Pressfield

The Creative Habit-Twyla Tharp

Headspace-Meditation App