Ritual vs. Routine, Part II

Last week, I talked about routine and asked you to write out your daily tasks to be completed, or block off your schedule on your calendar to get a visual idea of how much of your day your routine, or pursuit thereof, actually takes up. I asked you to notice what your mind does and what your body feels during that activity. Where did/does your energy want to go when writing it out and looking at it? Are you making time for yourself?

The answers to these questions may have surprised you, but also are excellent tools to consider ritual. Ritual should be some series of behaviors or activities geared towards a specific goal. Rituals can be small, daily rituals, such as prayers before bedtime to clear the mind, meditating for a few minutes before getting up in the morning, wearing a specific pair of socks to every hockey game because it may draw more luck to help your team win, or taking a power or yin yoga class. Rituals can also be more community-based and bigger or occur less frequently, such as eating turkey with family and friends on Thanksgiving while discussing what we are thankful for, or the funerals and death rituals of any culture. The point isn’t so much the activity, although that definitely matters. The true importance is the intention behind the activity, and connection to self as well as community. For example, Catholic people have funerals when a loved one dies, as a means of saying an individual goodbye, communing with Spirit, and sending off the spirit of their loved one while recapitulating and grieving together. Every culture and religion in the world has rituals around birth or death, and they exist for a reason. These rituals are obviously much bigger than what I’m addressing in the average person’s everyday life, but the takeaway message is the same- we intentionally take time out of our day to connect with ourselves and possibly others, and there may or may not be a spiritual component.

The same ritual mindset is applied to mindfulness and meditation practices, but can be applied to basically everything we do so that we are more present in the moment, and can be aware of the needs of our bodies, minds, and souls- besides only when it feels like something is lacking or there’s a crisis. Rituals can mark the passage of time, and mindful connection to even our small, mundane daily rituals can lead to a greater sense of satisfaction than simply checking items off a to-do list because we feel like we should.

While I don’t want to sound preachy, I do like to use myself as an example in this blog (good and bad, because I’m human and at the end of the day I can only ethically speak to my experience). So, if you’re looking for some ideas for how to incorporate positive rituals into your day, here are some of my favorites:

Morning coffee or other hot beverage- make sure you’re not multitasking and distracting yourself while doing this. Actually sit with yourself, notice each level of flavor, the warmth (or cold if that’s more your thing), maybe find a mantra/quote/intention for your day and think on it for a few, uninterrupted minutes. And don’t do it while you’re driving. Actually make time for yourself the way you would a beloved friend.

Yoga- different classes exist for different purposes. I like to take a power yoga class in the beginning of the day to start positive conversations with my body, and for strength/empowerment, working out anger/other lingering emotions, etc. I like yin classes at the end of my day for deep emotional release, flexibility, and relaxation after a stressful/high activity day or impactful yoga class.

Cooking- can often be like a moving meditation. When considering a meal, don’t just listen to what your taste buds are craving (which is totally one of my biggest struggles, I will admit openly!). Asking myself “what does my body need to refuel?” is a huge help, as des finding something delicious and nourishing. Then, the process of cooking the meal feels almost meditative and I can get lost in the multi-sensory experience. When I don’t have an abundance of time and energy to make food, I usually make sure I’ve prepped enough leftovers to heat up, or I’ll sometimes even treat myself to a nutritious meal out. I know that feeding myself an over-abundance of junk food won’t make me feel energized. But a small treat here or there is OK, as long as I avoid trigger foods for my immune system.

Also, I like to make sure I take care of the day-to-day stuff, like drinking my smoothies, taking my new vitamin regimen (it works miracles, I swear), and drink plenty of water and stretch throughout the day!

Exercise- walking, hiking, some weight lifting, spin classes, yoga classes, whatever! I just take extra care to make sure I’m doing these activities with the intention of loving and caring for my body, rather than punishing and hurting it or being angry at it.

Journaling- every day, even when I don’t know what to write about. Where do you think I find inspiration for blogs? Sometimes, I’ll even do a card pull from my favorite oracle decks, find an inspirational quote online, listen to an audiobook, read a poem, shamanic journey, or meditate for a few minutes for inspiration. Sometimes, tension I didn’t even realize I had gets released and things I didn’t realize I was hanging on to gets processed along the way. 

Body/Energy Work-I cannot recommend massage enough! Along with aromatherapy, energy healing/Reiki, shamanic healing session if I’m feeling off. 

I hope that this two-part series has clarified the importance of ritual within our daily routines, and how it doesn’t necessarily require a major shift in behavior, but more mindful awareness, in order to have a better connection with yourself. If you’re interested in connecting with others who are also looking to connect with themselves, there’s still time to join my Goddess group starting next week! We will be meeting for two hours on Saturdays, for six weeks, discussing our inner goddesses, learning about our needs, how to meet them in our daily lives, and journaling outside of the group to notice the changes in our lives! Contact me directly at rebecca@nestcoaching.org!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Ritual vs. Routine: Revitalize Your Mind by Shifting Your Approach to What You're Already Doing

Lifestyle changes don’t always have to be some massive life overhaul. You don’t have to completely change everything all at once- all of a sudden changing everything in your diet, spending two hours a day doing cardio, and cutting everyone out of your life isn’t rewarding or sustainable, so it’s not likely you’ll have incentive to do it for very long. Radical changes all at once can deplete energy and are overall less sustainable than small adjustments to mindset that inspire lasting changes, because of the small rituals and the self-awareness derived from them. This can inspire other small changes, which, over time, can give you a chance to notice the benefits of the small changes and leave your life looking totally different than it used to. 

This next mini-series is meant to help you become aware of your daily routine, how you’re prioritizing and talking to yourself throughout that routine, or how completely checked out from yourself you may actually be while you’re doing all the things you’re supposed to do for your own self-care. For example, you may be spending time working out and prepping/eating healthy food, but you could be doing it out of anger and non-acceptance of your body rather than recognition of the nurturance your body needs to maintain your overall health.

Let’s start with looking at routine. Routine refers to your daily schedule, the things that must be accomplished in order to feel like your day is complete and you were successful. Too often, however, we get bogged down in the stress and to-do list, rushing around. We often lose sight of why we’re actually doing the things that are part of our routines. For instance, we get stuck in rushing the kids to school, activities, doctor appointments, and scouts. But we never ask ourselves why, other than ‘it’s for my kid’ or ‘I committed to it,’ rather than ‘it’s my purpose to give my kid a variety experiences’ or ‘it’s important to me to follow through on my commitments,’ which are more honest statements connecting us to our purposes. The main purpose in the example is fulfilling the purpose in our culture, if the individual is called to do so. 

It’s easy to let our routine run away with us, especially if we feel stuck in a rut because our routine doesn’t deviate much day-to-day. I know I’m someone who thrives from the same routine day-to-day, and it’s easy for me to also check out and get things done. I also know that my body craves routine, as evidenced by my naturally waking up before 6 am every day unless I’m sick. 

I also know how disempowering routine can be. While routine is necessary for me to get things done, stay organized, and be able to focus and stay present in my work and practices, I am also very sensitive to shifts in my routine. I just feel “off” if I wake up late and I feel more pressured to run around and get things done. This throws me way off balance, because I’m left feeling like a victim of time, I’m often angry/frustrated, have a hard time focusing, and I know I’m not doing my best work. I feel like I’m just running around rushing for no clear purpose, and I just mess things up and spend more time doing damage control for everything that gets messed up along the way, which just adds to my frustration. Therefore, it’s vital to me to have rituals and practices to incorporate into and balance out my routine. Often, this simply looks like stopping for a moment, checking in with myself, and asking myself why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I feel like I need mentally, spiritually, and physically, and seeing if I can make a little time to make that happen. Pretty soon, it’s easy to let go of the things that don’t have a clear purpose in my life because I have no true connection to them. 

I’ll get more into rituals and practices next week, but the takeaway message for today is an invitation to look at your daily routine (or, perhaps, lack thereof). When you write out what has to get done each day, or try to block off time for tasks in your calendar, what is your mind doing? What is your body feeling? Where does your energy want to go? Are you making time for yourself? If so, where are you prioritizing yourself?

We’ll build on these in the next blog in this series, but you’d be surprised at the information you may receive and benefits you may notice in just making time to ask yourself these questions.

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.