The word ‘ritual’ has a somewhat esoteric ring to it, and while I rather like that – it is a bit misleading. After all – don’t we all engage in some kind of ritualised behaviour everyday (and I bet most of us don’t even put our ceremonial robes on to do it.)
I think rituals are a great way of bringing a little bit of peace and order to our day. Of course there is a big difference between ritual and habit (even the good habits) and I think rituals can help us mindfully organise our days and can even make us more productive.
When thinking about what a ritual is, I believe it has to meet this criteria:
1) It is carried out in the same way each time you do it, on a regular basis. This will often follow a prescribed formula that you have found to be optimal for its purpose.
2) It is not a chore to carry out a ritual, but is something that makes you feel calm, centred and in control. A ritual should be something you enjoy, not something you feel you should do.
3) It is positive. It is done to bring peace or enhance focus and is rooted in love (of self or others.)
I think one of the most positive and beneficial rituals that you can have is a morning hour. Some gurus (Robin Sharma for one) call this the sacred hour and recommend that you get up at an eye-popping five o’clock in the morning in order to experience it.
Often the morning hour (which I admit I do not personally conduct at 5 o’clock in the morning) is broken down into component parts which focus on separate elements of self improvement e.g. 20 minutes physical exercise, 20 minutes journaling, 20 minutes meditation.
Breakfast itself could be ritualised in order to create a more mindful, enjoyable meal which will fill you with nourishing, delicious food to fuel your coming day.
I firmly believe that however you spend your morning, rituals like the above are a great way to start the day. Far from eating into the productive time you have, they will enhance your focus, making the rest of your day flow far more smoothly.