Why rituals help us

Recently, I read an interesting quote: “People say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does washing – that’s why we do it every day!” Isn’t it interesting that we wouldn’t think of skipping our daily shower or brushing of teeth?  But when it comes to things like practicing meditation and mindfulness or getting on our yoga mat regularly, a different level of commitment is required.
For me, this level of commitment is connected to ritual. The two most important rituals that help me are conscious breathing and chanting.  Well, that sounds strange because all of us breathe but here again is a quote that was introduced to me by Andrew: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. And in this space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.  In those choices lie our growth and happiness.”
For someone like me who tends to suffer from ‘foot in mouth’ disease (speaking before full consideration), I try to extend this ‘space’ or ‘pause’ into taking an extra breath. This quote never ceases to remind me that we do not need to be casualties of our conditioning but that we are constantly presented with choices and opportunities to react, think or speak differently (or maybe just be silent).
The other ritual, chanting, is connected with my practice (yoga and meditation) and it never fails me when my motivation to get on the mat is low and I would rather pull the sheets over my head.  The opening and closing chants are my anchor points – they remind me of my intentions and allow me drop my mind into the present moment of the practice.
So, if you ever feel that sticking to an intention or a practice eludes you, try creating a ritual – and be surprised how it will connect you to the motivation you need to take the next steps.

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