My summer started strong; it left the gate like a racehorse, and it hasn’t slowed down one bit. I sometimes feel as though the horse (we’re talking time, here) has got a mind of his own and I’m barely keeping my saddle. If I were racing to a particular place or for a particular purpose, the speed and chaos would be exciting. As it is, I’m merely breathless and wondering how I ended up on this horse … again.
What I’m trying to say—in case my mangled metaphor has thoroughly confused you—is that it seems like I have no control over my time, which seems to be racing along without any input from me. (And I thought this summer would be different!) Does this ever happen to you?
When I get overly busy like this, my regular rituals get neglected—activities such as walking, yoga, and riding my bicycle, deep journal writing sessions (gasp! yes, even me), meditation, and spending enough time in my garden to keep my precious plants from wilting. Rituals like these—all deeply important to my sense of well being—fall by the wayside because I deem them less important than work and family commitments. And I suppose they should be. Yet, I notice that if I let them go for too long, I begin to get cranky from a vague sense of dissatisfaction, I’m not centered or calm, my body aches more than usual, and my normal clarity of thinking becomes muddy dull.
This morning, I’d had enough of all this rushing around and feeling as though the world would end if I didn’t get this or that done. Instead, I sat at my desk, took a deep breath and lit a candle. Then I opened iTunes and began to play a Bach Cello Suite performed by Yo Yo Ma. I closed my eyes and allowed the music to permeate my being. Only then did I set my fingers on the keyboard to write in my journal. I wrote about everything that was going on in my life. I vented. I poured out my hopes, dreams, and fears. I wrote a little about work, a little about my writing, tested out some ideas. When I was done, I felt cleansed and restored, and filled with a sense of purpose. The rest of my day felt more ordered and peaceful, as well. All from less then 30 minutes of ritual.
Does this ever happen to you? Do you have regular rituals essential to your well being and ability to function?
This week’s journaling prompts help you explore the meaning and purpose of your rituals, whatever they are.
- Write a list of rituals important to your sense of well being. These are any activities that you do on a regular basis (however you want to define “regular”) that help you to feel nurtured, centered, and more like yourself. Include how often and when you like to perform these rituals, as well as what conditions need to be in place. For example, for my candle/music/journaling ritual, I need time to myself when I know I will not be interrupted.
- Prioritize the items on your list. Which is most important to you and which is least? Are there any rituals you feel you could do without for an extended time? Which ones make you feel the best? Which ones are most difficult to find time to do?
- Freewrite for ten to fifteen minutes about your most important, number one ritual, the one you feel you “cannot live without.”
- Dig a little. What quality do all of these rituals have in common? Are they all outdoors? Are they all done in solitude? When you have defined at least one commonality, perform a clustering/writing exercise to discover and write more deeply about that quality.
- What happens when you get busy? Which rituals are the first to go and which, if any, do you hang onto no matter what? How have you created space in your life for self-nurturing rituals?
- Which rituals do you share with others, if any? Describe those rituals as well as how sharing enhances or detracts from their importance to you. If all of your nurturing rituals are done in solitude, spend some time writing about why you need solitude.
- Do your rituals connect you with something larger than yourself (community, religion, belief, etc)? If so, what and how? If not, how do you feel about that?
How do you feel about rituals? Do we really need them? Leave a comment.
Altered Image. Original by Jeff Kubina