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  • Writer's pictureBecs Mansfield

Routine or Ritual?

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

What is the difference between a routine and a ritual? It is the attitude of the action. While routines can be actions we're doing with our attention elsewhere- rituals are being the action. Rituals are meaningful practices with a sense of real purpose. So how do we start building rituals into our days?

I'm Becs and I'm a certified Modern Meditation teacher. Here to share meditation and wellbeing guidance with individuals and organisations. In 2020 I completed EMCC Accredited Programme beanddo™ Modern Meditation Teacher Training Course with Mick Timpson, Accredited and Approved Yoga Alliance Professionals Coach.

beanddo™ "by definition [be-and-do] a purposeful merging of the science of effortless being with the art of spontaneous doing as a way to promote deeper awareness, wellbeing intuition and creativity."

~ Mick Timpson

Meditation teacher stockport
Finding joy in walking my sister's dog

I am very much a person who is routined and loves a routine... And I have chatted to friends about this who do not have a routine. Like most things routine is about a healthy balance, because we need to allow space for spontaneity- something unpredictable and exciting! Over the years I have noticed when routine or habits (!) become unhealthy patterns or cycles that we get stuck in.

Here I will explore how we can transform our habits and begin to create more meaningful rituals (and allowing space and acceptance for life to sometimes to get in the way!)

Getting clear on your purpose

Having a sense of purpose is important to live in a meaningful and intentional way. It allows us to focus on what is most important to you, so you can prioritise. This empowers you to let go things that don't serve your purpose.

~Write a list of all the things that give your life meaning.

~Write a list of what will bring more joy into your day.

Having a journaling practice is a ritual that can be built into your life. My journalling rituals align with the new moon and the full moon; where I write my intentions on the new moon and write what I want to release on the full moon. The moon cycle repeats every 29.5 days and so I find it realistic to journal once every 2 weeks. You may find little and often works better for you and spend a few minutes daily works better. Alternatively journal at the start of the month to get clear on your purpose for the month. However you decide works for you, make it meaningful. Gift yourself the stillness, quietness and space to find your "dharma" or purpose. I heard recently...

“Spend more time doing things that make you forget about the time.”

~ Unknown

Dedicate time to your Self

I am an introvert and get my energy from being alone. Whether you are an extrovert and get your energy from being with others or not, it is important to make space for yourself. It allows us to check in with our Self; with our body and mind and notice how we feel and what we need. Decide when is the easiest time for you to dedicate time to yourself.

Last year I read the book 'Atomic Habits' by James Clear. It is about getting just 1% better every day. Small changes can appear to make no difference, but then something just happens and you see progress.

If you're struggling with building positive habits, or breaking negative habits I'd recommend this book. Here's the idea:

~ Make it obvious/ invisible

~ Make it attractive / unattractive

~ Make it easy / difficult

~ Make it satisfying / unsatisfying

One of the most satisfying feelings is the feeling of making progress. I like to use a habit tracker and mark 'Y' every morning I get up and practice yoga / meditation. You can try this with any intention/ habit you choose. Maybe choose an intention/ habit that will impact on more healthier habits? I find using a month by month calendar is the best way to do this. As you move through the month you will visually see all the days you have dedicated to this intention. Maybe your intention is dedicating time to yourself daily? And it could just be for 10 minutes!

If you give meaning to this intention or positive habit, you're more likely to stick with it. I am not a fan of new year resolutions because we change, we grow and we want or need different things throughout the year. If we decide this month to focus on one small change and give meaning to it, to transform it into a ritual, we can experience real joy from the practice. If we enjoy it (make it satisfying!) we will continue until it becomes who we are. I practice yoga and/or meditation first thing in the morning for half an hour or so. This is my ritual of dedicating time to myself. Maybe yours could be simply having a quiet cup of your favourite beverage in quietness before you move into the busyness of the day?

Make a plan and commitments

If you follow the moon cycle you will know the new moon was in Aries at the end of March. Aries is my moon sign and the sign I most think myself as. (Most people know of their star/sun sign and the sun determines your ego, identity or role in life. By comparison the moon rules our emotions, moods and feelings. You can find out your star/sun and moon sign if you do a search on Google!) If you're not into astrology that's okay, you can skip to the next paragraph where I will get to the point! Aries is a moon to inspire being brave and bold. The symbol of the ram shows us how to use the energy of this moon to be headstrong and take charge of our life. We can use the energies of Aries and the ram to find our own inner strength and boldness. It brings passion, inspiration and motivation to move forward.

Mindfulness walking
Feelings of spring

This year I have made a goal for each month. As it's the beginning of the new astrological year, the start of spring (we've just had the spring equinox!) this is a time of new beginnings - so the opportune time to start! Make a plan (maybe for the next 12 months) of what you want this year to bring you. Get clear and focussed and make commitments. But be open to life getting in the way and not always achieving what you set out to achieve! This is where daily / weekly / bi-weekly / monthly journalling comes in - we need to change, grow and adapt! Accepting what is happening and know it's all just experience.

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”

~ Ekhart Tolle

I have so many diaries and notebooks with all my plans and nothing brings me more pleasure than sitting down quietly, reflecting on the month just gone and planning for my month ahead (sounds a bit nerdy, but it's true!). It is a monthly ritual, not a meaningless routine, because my attention is fully on the action of writing, reflecting and planning. I am being the action, not just doing the action with my attention elsewhere. This is called the flow state. Fully engaged, effortless and purposeful. Fully in the moment and fully absorbed in meaningful activity.

Meditation or mindfulness moments

Lastly, let's talk about meditation or mindfulness moments. In meditation or mindfulness practices we bring our attention to the present moment. The above ways are examples of mindfulness moments- connecting our being with our doing! It's when we bring our attention to the action, and not our attitude. Not experiencing the action with what we think ("I have to go to the gym but I don't want to go") but experiencing what is really happening (experiencing the joy of movement!). We can practice mindfulness moments in every day life that transform routine to ritual...

~ Walking

~ Running

~ Drinking a cup of tea

~ Cooking / baking

~ Drawing

~ My teacher Mick Timpson says he transforms the daily chore of the dishwasher mindful!

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”

~ Ekhart Tolle

A daily meditation practice gives us the space to regularly check in with the body and mind. We allow ourself to slow down, relax and turn our attention inward. We allow ourself to find stillness, quietness and self awareness. We learn to observe our thoughts, feelings, our situation... Thoughts start to settle and we can find clarity and intuition. We start to deeply know what we need to do, find connection and meaning, and a sense of real purpose.

Decide on what you're going to transform into a ritual

As we move into spring, use the rising energies to reflect and set new intentions. This is a time of new beginnings. This is the season of renewal! Realign with your values or intentions you set yourself at the start of the traditional calendar year, or something completely new?

We can give meaning to whatever we choose- and what is life without meaning and purpose? Each moment we get a choice to make a better decision. A new season / a new month / a new week / a new day / a new moment- it doesn't matter when, but what does matter is the conscious choice for positive change.

If you'd like to explore meditation or mindfulness more have a look at my offerings page and get in touch! I teach at Safe Space in Bredbury, Stockport, weekly meditation and yoga classes suitable for beginners. And I have online options too!

Safe Space Bredbury
Safe Space in Bredbury, Stockport

I am here to share my experience and offer meditation and wellbeing guidance with others. I want to empower people to know they can change, from the inside out. If you found this stuff interesting please subscribe, comment and share with your family and friends. Each month I'll explore a different theme on meditation and wellbeing topics. Get in touch if you have any questions or if you would like us to work together.

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