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