Routine; 'A sequence of actions regularly followed. Performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason.'
Ritual; 'A solemn (characterized by deep sincerity)ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order which one regulalry carries out.'
Almost the same no? Yet to me they are so different. When I think of routine, boredom comes to mind. When one hás to do the same thing over and over again. A repeat of the same because it is necessary. Whereas a ritual to me is not boring but sooting, calming the mind and the body.
Routines can be done 'routinely' where as a ritual needs more intent.
You can have a night time routine where you clean your face, brush your teeth, go to loo and hop into bed.
Or you can have a night time ritual, where you clean your face with wonderful oil, warmed up between your hands, smelling divine. Then you brush your teeth, change clothes and when you go to bed you spend 5 minutes doing a calm breathing exercise and then listen to soothing music while drifting off.
Maybe you use a pillow mist. Maybe you write in your gratitude journal. I would call all these things Rituals.
Things you choose to do because you love them. Not things you have to do for the day to work well.
Routines can add a stress factor to life. If you feel you have to do things, make time for this, eating into your day. Adding to your to-do list. Rituals are a little kinder. You don't háve to do them, there is a choice to do them when there is a need and you can do a different ritual fulfilling the needs of that day.
A ritual is time for yourself. To gaze inward, spot your needs, then act upon them in a kind and self loving way. Pure self care. With sincerity. Calming. Respectful. Taking away stresses. Instead entering a new sense of inner stillness.
How can you add a ritual to your routine? Here are three ideas for every moment of the day. Baring in mind that nobody feels they have time, so these can be done quickly without adding stress, but if done with intend, will add calm:
Morning: Hit the snooze button. Instead of going back to sleep: Lie on your back and start slow breathing in and out through the nose, hands on heart. Tune into how you feel and how you like this day to be.
Take a deep inhale through the nose and sigh out through the mouth.
Get up and take a few big stretches to side and forward. Tuning into what your body needs. Smile and shake it out. Set your first step into the day with intend.
(Have you ever randomly, in the middle of your day taken a moment to just smile? Try it and feel the shift...)
Afternoon: Make a cup of tea or coffee. Sit with it in your hands to warm hands. Close eyes and take three deep breaths in and out. Let go of what hasn't gone so well on every exhale.Take the first sip (at least) slowly and with intent, tasting the drink and letting it warm your body from the inside out. Open your eyes and continue the day afresh. New opportunities.
Evening: Light a candle. Play some soothing music. Use a wonderful oil to massage your body; arms, legs, chest and take moments to press down on the pressure points in your wrists and ankles or stop at the sore spots in your shoulders. Be still for a moment, close your eyes and take three deep breaths in and out to soothe the nervous system.
If you have one; write a line of gratitude in your journal. Then spray a pillow mist on your pillow and blow the candle out. Indicating this is the end of your day and it is time to sleep.
I can highly recommend https://www.maulirituals.com/collections/sleep-dharma for the most beautiful sleep products. Not cheap but if you check the list of ingredients you will understand why.
If you really struggle to sleep I can recommend the drops from OTO. They work.
(I do not get paid to mention them nor do I receive free products).
I hope you feel inspired to add a ritual to your life. Maybe a family one for you all to enjoy together.
Then ream in the benefits.
Stay tuned for A Ritual Retreat at The Mat Sanctuary.