VITAL RITUALS

The importance of routine reveals itself in the benefits of consistency, benefits that may be hidden from us when we are inconsistent. In practicing mindfulness, taking time regularly to become aware is itself a ritual. Over days, weeks, months, years—this practice becomes more than habits. It becomes us. Rather than a person practicing mindfulness, we become a mindful person.

The rituals that surround and support our practice—make them what you wish. There is no set path above all others. These rituals are opportunities to check in with ourselves and connect with awareness. They may be small escapes from a disordered day, or a seamless integration of mindful thinking within the flow of it.

One common ritual is to simply close your eyes, put your feet on the floor, and settle into meditation. Another is to do so lying down, perhaps on a yoga mat, if time and space allows.

Mindfulness may also take shape of attentive breathing. Bring your attention to the moment, casting away judgment, uncluttering the mind. Finding our breath as it flows in and out, this practice allows us to really experience the quality of how we’re feeling. Our breath calms us. It allows us to breathe out negativity and breathe in kindness—feeling our full potential.

Mindfulness can come through ritual eating. Allowing mindfulness to guide our intentions as we eat allows us to focus on the nourishment, and on the experience—appreciation of food as sustenance, the beauty of it, the feeling of, enjoying as it is received. Let this knowing unfold along with the meal.

Whether we think of them as such, rituals are already a part of everyone’s life. Mindfulness merely structures them toward our intentions and goals.