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The first half hour of my every day is entirely predictable. I get out of bed, step into the shower, shave, comb my hair, brush my teeth, dress myself, and step into the kitchen to grind coffee.

Half an hour a day adds up to three and a half hours a week, 14 hours a month, 168 hours a year. Shower, shave, comb, brush, dress, coffee… Shower, shave, comb, brush, dress, coffee… Shower, shave, comb, brush, dress, coffee… 365 times!

Repetitive actions performed so frequently don’t require attention. They are handled by mechanical parts of centers, or Jacks. And since one part of a center stimulates the same part in its neighboring centers (Jacks stimulate Jacks, Queens stimulate Queens, and so forth), then while the mechanical part of my moving center (my Jack of Spades) is shaving, my Jack of Diamonds will tend to wander in aimless thought. If I do not address this tendency, I will be starting each day with half an hour of imagination and spending a cumulative 168 hours of my year daydreaming.

How can I Be throughout such repetitive and mechanical action?

I must transform routine into ritual. My day will then begin with the ritual of stepping out of bed, followed by the ritual of stepping into the shower, then the ritual of shaving, the ritual of combing, brushing, dressing, and finally, the ritual of preparing coffee. By the time I sit at my desk to work, instead of having spent half an hour daydreaming, I will have dedicated the first half hour of my day to Being. With such a firm beginning, I am in a much better position to meet the internal challenges of my day. If my children wake up sick or the papers report a crisis or my boss barges into my office shouting, I am not caught off guard. The struggle to Be may still be challenging, but I am adequately warmed up.

Attitude distinguishes ritual from routine. My external actions remain the same but my internal attitude is transformed. The attitude of “getting things over with” is replaced by the attitude of “reaffirming my aim.” I pull the bed cover off and step into my slippers consciously. I draw aside the shower curtain attentively. I observe my moving center shaving, brushing, and combing. I bring an emotional element to dressing by choosing a particular color and fabric of clothes. I savor the scent of my coffee brewing. More of me has been involved in the first half hour of my day, which after all, is always the first half hour of the rest of my life.

Which repetitive areas of your day will you transform into ritual?

This post was originally published November 14th, 2015 on a previous version of BePeriod. If you read the post then, how have your rituals evolved since you first read it?

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Image by John Nakamura Remy (shared under the creative commons license)



  1. Lazaros Lazarakis

    Everyday my biomachine is getting up from the bed a cohort of subconsious and unconsious I’s are waiting on the queue to dominate-enslave my Being…after reading this post for first time at past November ,my deputy steward found a powerfool tool to fight for presence at the beginning of every new day…..and the fight is evolving well…more presence,more energy,more Be!Thank you friends.

  2. Goran Djukleski

    Helpful post, thanks. I am struggling with daydreaming and imagination even before I get out of bed. From the moment I wake up until I get out of my bed, which is about half an hour, daydreaming overwhelms me, so by the time I start my morning routine my many I’s take over me. To overcome this, I started my effort to Be from the first moment I wake up. It is in a form of meditation while lying down, where I consciously check my body from feet to crown while doing self-observation.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Ouspensky said that imagination satisfies all centers. It is important to observe and acknowledge that a part in us actually enjoys this ‘morning-imagination.’ It finds pleasure in fantasizing before the day begins. Another part in us realizes that this is a bizarre pastime and that the more we indulge in it, the deeper we will sink into the mud of sleep.

      Directing one’s attention physically throughout one’s body, as you describe Goran, is one way of rising from mechanical parts of centers to intellectual parts, and therefore, of tugging against this habit. As part of such efforts, I have found it necessary to reaffirm my aim to Be; to remind myself that ‘enjoying’ this temporary and superficial pleasure comes at the price of drifting away from my aim. If I remind myself of the price, I can no longer indulge in this imagination with a clear conscience.


  3. Dean Whittingham

    Since this was first posted I observed my account Is are the worse first thing in the morning and are alway the ones to overtake any presence.

    I observed that trying to invoke Kings creates the churning and brings on the Jacks and so the morning ritual has become a tug of war.

    For instance I have been working on a project for the last few years which treats human rights as individual duties and not as actual rights or priveleges, which is against the grain of societies approach to basic human needs, and this requires the Kings and yet almost without failure everytime I think of the project, its elements, its implementation etc the Jacks swoon in and all of a sudden I find myself having internal arguments in my head with people I have never met over the merits of the project.

    I observed this tug of war between kings and jacks a result of trying to turn my first half hour into ritual

    1. Tim

      Dean its bad for me in the mornings, too. I don’t know where this stuff comes from. It’s like I’ve been busy thinking and imagining all night and when I wake up, I am mid-stream in imagination. I am thankful for awareness about this.

      1. Dean Whittingham

        Hi Tim, before I discovered the 4th way, but whilst still in a journey to try and uncover the truth (my parents won the lottery and became instantly rich only to end up bankrupt 4 years later; a result that occurs with 19 out of 20 lottery winners I subsequently found out), I found some research which suggested that every thought, deed, and impression causes the brain to create and release chemicals which our body cells create receptors for. As a result our flesh becomes addicted to these chemicals which our brain must continue to provide…so even ‘imagination’ itself is causing the brain to release chemicals. I have verified that the same imaginations and thought patterns occur over and over.

        1. Thomas Neuschatz

          Hello Dean, this mechanical repetition of the same fantasies, thoughts and emotions, while strange and alarming at times, allows the recognition that asleep nothing new happens. And each time I see the same old nonsense, the desire to wake up becomes stronger. The next step is to set aims to interrupt these patterns and intentionally replacement them, one by one, with internal activities closer to Presence.

        2. Tim

          Thank you, Dean. I find this fascinating. I’ve read about the plasticity of the brain and how it changes structure after mice were conditioned to rewards resulting from completing a maze.

      2. John F. Walz

        Hello Tim,
        yes, the dreams that we have in First State(Sleep State) are similar to the dreams in Second State(Waking State). For most people, it rather seamlessly moves from one to the next.

        Before resting at night, its good to set a strong Aim to wake up in a more Conscious State the next morning. That may involve having to review your day and letting go of accounts, accepting your lack of efforts in the Work, accepting identification and expression of negative emotions with humility and a specific plan for the next day to be different.

        Its helpful to have a verifiable aim for the morning to remind yourself to Be Present upon awakening.

        For me, for several years I had an aim to intentionally look(without words) at the chandelier in my bedroom for a few minutes before getting out of bed. Having grown up in a working class family, just seeing this chandelier in a house that I actually owned, was a postive shock that was associated with a deep sense of gratitude of what gifts have come along with the practice of The Fourth Way.
        But, of course, over time, even these exercises can fade and need to be refreshed. About a year ago when this post came out, I changed this exercise to include an internal phrase similar to the ” I want to be serious; I” that Asaf has suggested. Instead of holding a wordless state, I would look at each candle-like fixture and say silently a word, combine that with a breath looking at each fixture and intentionally trying to experience gratitude. Then, I wordlessly follow up the four levels of the fixture, also combining that with breath. I do this several times. By doing this, my odds of getting to the bathroom in a more Present state go up considerably, as opposed to hitting the snooze button and then begrudgingly getting out of the warm bed at the last possible minute to deal with the responsibilities of the day. First responsibility is to Be.

        1. Tim

          Thank you, John. Great suggestions that I will also try. Honestly I hadn’t thought of doing that before sleep. I shall add that to the recapitulation prayers. I have learned, from being a former athlete (not pro), that the quiet time before physical sleep, when our heads are on pillows, we are most open to self suggestion and are able to program the mind for the game/match that’s a few days away. I had learned long ago, well before coming into contact with The Work, that out minds are programmable. Fast forward 20 years, I can validate we are machines.

          Because of the 4th way and the morning ritual exercise my morning awareness is much improved. Perhaps this awareness is because of the contrast to waking from physical sleep and knowing, with intellectual center, that I am mid-stream in imagination. Then I realize that all that’s flowing through my head is the opposite of awareness. I find this contrast helpful.

  4. Maurice Nicoll

    We are, in short, a mass of habits. That is, we are simply machines. We say the same things over and over again, we react to events in the same way, we get angry in the same way, we become negative in the same way. All this keeps us in a state of sleep—i.e. at the 2nd level of consciousness.

  5. Hicham B.

    Everyday since the last Mars, I go from home to a nearby city with my bicycle. Every day the same thing: take the bicycle from the garage, caress my cat, sit on the bike and stop beside the road to select the same songs in the same order. Finally, I start pedalling. The same patterns of imagination occurs during 5 kms. When I arrive to the city center, I go to the same shop and buy the same cake and juice then go to a certain place and have my breakfast.
    Today, as I woke up two possibilities presented themselves: either I break the pattern completely or follow in the exact same way with the addition of presence.
    The second one is relevant to the post so I tried as far as possible to do my daily routine as a ritual i.e. as if it is the first time I do it. Every action with divided attention. The struggle was high and for breve moment I forgot what I was doing. At the end, I was able to verify the saying of G. :”If a man… tries to remember himself, every impression he receives while remembering himself will, so to speak, be doubled.”

  6. Thomas Neuschatz

    Hello Hicham, this is a problem for me as well. There are several says that have helped. One approach is to do the same things in a slightly different order. Setting this aim, which is not completed externally most of the time, wakes me up which is internal successes. The aim to do one thing slightly differently each day also arrives at the same point. Another approach, very similar to adding attention as Asaf recommends, is to increase intention. This increases emotionality. An example; I brush my teeth with the intention to get them clean and help them last longer. Usually these purposes are forgotten. When remembered and put into the present, they increase awareness.

  7. Kandra

    I am aware of and revel in the tiny differences in my daily routine. Every single day is different- every time I do something I’ve done before it’s still different. Nothing is ever really the same- ever. I have brushed my teeth a million times but never exactly the same… I know because I am there! I am the one doing it! It’s like the weather- never the same- like snowflakes- never the same- what you wear each day- never the same- what you think each day- never the same- We call it routine but that, to me, is “sleep terminology”- it’s never ever the same… and it’s not ritual either- all formalized and such- it’s just BEING there.