Reflections on routine, rhythms and ritual…
As September tips on the open skies, the swallow’s have been gathering on the telephone wires across the village. Some are just fledglings, fattening up for their long flight south. They’ve made it through the summer, delighting me with their darts of inky wing and swooping flights. And, rightly so, soon they will leave, into the great unknown, on a journey their instincts dictate, just like their ancestors. Only in departure can return be anticipated. To travel south is the signature of all things natural to them, closing a cycle in the greater rhythm of continuance.
It’s around this time too that the rhythms of the year take on a new season and that ‘back to school’ feeling, with all its new beginnings and own anticipations, clicks into gear. However, in a year that has felt like none other, when so many of us have been challenged to our core and when our own rhythms and routines were up-ended, it can be tempting to think we are returning back to ‘normal’. In my own life, and through conversations with friends and family, I know this year has given pause to take stock, re-evaluate, re-prioritise, and think about what matters most. There have been such valuable insights among the challenges and I am keen not to loose these as the world opens up again and the demands on time, attention and presence increase.
So, before the big rush back to ‘normal’, I think it would be useful to take some time to think about our own rhythms of continuance. How do we get intentional about what to carry onwards and where to travel from here? And how to create routines and habits which support renewal- for ourselves and our communities?
To support you (and me!), I’ve complied a series of journaling prompts to help you reflect on the last 18 months, and, as you transition across the seasons, think about the routines and rituals which will help to nourish you from the inside out.
You may choose to work through these in one sitting, or spread out over the course of a few days. How about lighting a candle to accompany you, and usher the sacred in too.
There are three parts:
I hope these questions can help you take stock of what has been a challenging time, and support you to move into the next season with intentionality and clarity. May there be ease and kindness too, to yourself, and those around you…
1. Reflection: Looking back.
While the pandemic is not over, here in Ireland at least, things are beginning to open up again. The following questions are designed you help you reflect on this momentous time of challenge, growth, learning and change.
What did you learn about yourself in the last 18 months that surprised you?
What aspects of your pre-pandemic life did you miss most?
In what ways has the last year destabilised you and what were the challenges and gifts of this uprooting?
What aspects/ elements of what you created over these last 18 months are worth savouring and sustaining?
The return of routine can bring safety, stability and comfort. Boundaries and limits can usher creativity and freedom. With routine can come rhythms which support and nourish, but so too those which deaden or flatten our senses. And so, how to create routines which enliven and enrich our lives?
Take a few moments to think about the routines which will support your own wellbeing. Here are a few journalling prompts which might help:
What routines are serving you? What aren’t?
What is your ideal morning routine? What aspect of this could you realistically incorporate into your mornings at present?
What is your ideal evening routine? What aspect of this could you realistically incorporate into your evenings at present?
Where might you need more structure in your day? Where might you need less?
What would support you or what supports do you need to establish healthier routines?
Simple ritual elevates the everyday moments to sacred. Ritual helps to uplift the ordinary and reminds us of the preciousness of time itself. Lighting a candle at dinner, placing flowers on the table, cooking a special meal, planting seeds with a child, writing in a favourite journal or with with a special pen- these simple acts can delineate our days and can be used as triggers to bring us back to gratitude and appreciation for what we have.
In my own life, this year I have made a habit of lighting a candle at dinner, even when I dine alone (which is most of the time). The candle helps me pause and appreciate the meal, slowing me down. The light is a form of companionship and has shifted my relationship to mealtime and to myself. Similarly, I have a few very simple homeware items passed down to me from my grandmother, including a blue and white table cloth. Each time I go on a picnic, the table cloth comes with me. When I spread the tablecloth out, the picnic is elevated too, endued with special memory and the legacy of my grandmother. It doesn’t take much, but the smiliest of rituals can be transformative.
So think about your own weekly rhythms. Where can you introduce simple rituals into your week?
How about changing the sheets every Sunday evening? Or starting every Monday mornings with some poems instead of to-do lists? Or lighting a candle at work meetings to bring the sacred in there too?
Take some time to jot down your ideas. What one or two can you start to implement this week. Mark these ones on your list.
Thank you for taking the time. x