This morning, I shaved. It was the ritual that launched the rest of my day.
It all started with a hot shower to soften the whiskers. Next, I whipped up a puck of shaving soap into a lather before slapping a steaming hot towel onto my face for a few minutes. I spread the warm lather on with the brush and made the first of three passes using my freshly stropped straight razor. After the last pass, my face now smooth as a baby's tuckus, I splashed on some cold water, witch hazel, and after-shave lotion. My mind was serene, my thoughts were focused, my spirit was centered, and my body was relaxed and energized.
Do More... with Less
Other cultures have understood for ages the value of taking time to quiet the mind and body. Central Americans have siestas, and even the highly achieving Japanese know the value of a nap taken after lunch.
"Right," you say, "I have no sofa, and my boss would be more than a trifle miffed at me if I hung a hammock across my cubicle, not to mention the facilities dweebs who would be here in an instant citing me for creating an obstruction, violating union rules and not properly securing it to load-bearing walls!"
The Focusing Power of Ritual
Japanese understand the value of appreciating the beauty of simplicity. It's part of their culture and is expressed in many aspects of their daily life. It stands out particularly in the tea ceremony. The practitioner and observer are drawn into the peaceful nature of the ceremony itself and for the nine to ten minutes that this ritual lasts, serenity reigns.
Shaving has become a ritual for me. The whole process takes between 30 and 45 minutes but it's my time to just be alone with my thoughts, to be completely engaged with myself. Some days that time is hypercreative. Other days, it's reflective. But whatever the outcome, that time is mine, and it's sacrosanct.
On a smaller scale, my first cup of coffee is usually made with an Aeropress. I prepare the beans, ensure the water is at the right temperature, measure out the grounds, add the water, stir for 10 seconds, steep for 10 seconds, plunge, and then clean up. All told, that cup of coffee takes me between 2 and 4 minutes to make, but it's the best cup of my day, and each morning I'm transformed during its preparation.
So large or small, planned or serendipitous, look for moments in your day when ritual can step in and establish your islands of peace.
Because that, friends, keeps your batteries charged for the big challenges of your day.
How about it? What events during your day might you transform into rituals?
Image CC BY 2.0 Euan Morrison