Purposeful Rituals

Last week, in our blog about the brilliance of coffee we talked briefly about ritual. Today, we’re going to extoll the virtues of ritual in today’s world. There are endless benefits to daily rituals and now more than ever we all need comfort, self-care, and purpose. 

While rituals are rooted in religion, they’re generally actions done out of habit that have become sacred. There are of course, many sides to most arguments and habits can be stifling and limiting – such as getting into the habit of not working out or chewing your fingernails. But in today’s uncertain world, good habits or rituals can be grounding and provide a sense of balance and progress.

When we talked to you about coffee being a ritual, there were different parts to that. First, there was the act of making the coffee itself – all of the steps from start to finish, the order of which can be reassuring. When things have order they ground us, tethering us to reality and something purposeful. Beyond that, the coffee ritual extends to drinking it. How you enjoy your daily coffee can also be ritualistic. Do you walk around your neighborhood drinking your coffee and (hopefully) soaking up Vitamin D? Is it your fifteen-minute social media catch up of the day? Do you take a quiet unplugged seat on the sofa to just be? Or do you take a socially distant walk with a local friend and warm your body and your soul? 

Rituals are also embedded in self-care. We’re all about hydration as a ritual – because it gives us life, literally. It also keeps us focused, feeling good, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention what it does to keep our skin looking healthy. Many rituals promote self-care not merely in that the ritual itself may be about taking care of oneself (e.g. an evening skincare routine, a weekend foot soak and scrub, morning HIIT on the floor in the living room or late afternoon yoga) but having the ritual in place gives us something to look forward to (e.g. reading every afternoon with something sweet, writing in a journal, watching a favorite show).

Some rituals are social and in our socially distant world, that’s a bit complex. We have to work at being really connected. We’re all plugged in but are we connected? Connecting with our loved ones is more complicated than it once was because we can’t just see them face to face. We can’t embrace them. We can’t have contact the way we are used to, the way we want to. But we can connect – first in the obvious ways on video calls (hello, virtual happy hour!) and using social media, but also by picking up a pen and writing a handwritten letter or card (the post office needs our help anyway!). 

There are other kinds of rituals too, rituals that are specific to the current world. The singer, rapper, and writer Dessa wrote “Purposeful might be my favorite feeling—even better than happiness.” And right now, for many non-essential workers (thank you thank you thank you to essential workers!), it is hard to feel any sense of purpose when the directive is to stay at home. But that is our task, so we have to look at what’s possible from home. Something like giving what you can to a different organization that is working on the front lines each week, or designating one night each week to support your neighborhood restaurants and outposts (we have takeout Thursday!), or even something as simple as making a sign to post in your window showing all of the essential workers that you appreciate them and showing your city or town that you’re in it with them.

Here’s to rituals carrying us forward.