wedding day with girls

I often teach and talk about the importance of routines and rituals. The other day a client asked what the difference was. After we discussed the differences and similarities, I sat down to write this post. 

A routine is sequence of actions that you do regularly such as a morning routine when you brush your teeth, scrape your tongue and then rub your gums with sesame oil. We might create a routine to ensure we remember and get all the things done that we want in a particular time frame, so we don’t need to make multiple decisions each morning and to use our time wisely.

A routine becomes a ritual when we are mindful of each action that we take. We might follow the same steps of our routine, yet as we perform each aspect of our routine, we are aware and thoughtful of how we are feeling and what we are thinking.

Rituals are also a sequence of actions, done is a particular space with a specific meaning, a meaning that we attach to the items, timing, words that we use and can also be connected to ceremony or religion, such as the picture of me on my wedding day many years ago.

A ritual can be performed daily such as upon waking, multiple times throughout a day as before each meal or on special occasions like a birthday, coming of age, or death. 

How we create a ritual can be prescribed by others or we can create with words and items that are meaningful to us. Either way, a ritual is what we make of it and what’s in our heart and our mind. I like to make rituals more meaningful by adding thoughts, items, and people that are sacred to me.

Cooking dinner can be a routine or it can be a ritual. It depends on how we do it.  

Ritual dinner:

Light a candle

Put on some soothing music

Wipe down the counters

Thoughtfully choose a recipe and ingredients

Think lovingly about the people we are feeding

Wash and chop the vegetables grateful for the people who picked them

Cook and serve the meal

Routine dinner:

Make what we can, when we can as fast as we can and serve it up.

Is it wrong? No. Does it make a difference in how the cook and the recipients feel? Absolutely.

Routines and meant to lower the number of decisions we need to make, help us to be more efficient and productive.

Rituals are meant to soothe the soul.

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