Ritual vs. Routine: How to Make the Mundane Magic

As a general rule, I really dislike routine, patterns, and consistency. I have always thought of routine as a rut, like eating the same thing for lunch every day. Our lives are too short to be so scheduled to the minute of each day. I have always fancied myself as a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of lady. Even so, I’m finding it to be a big challenge to exist with child number 2 without some kind schedule.

With my first son, I let him create his own patterns, I followed his cues of when to feed him, when he needed to sleep, etc. Now that I have added another human to the mix, I find myself struggling to accept that I need a little more structure—even though I dislike the idea of it so much. After expressing this thought to a close friend, she suggested I stop thinking of it as routine and start calling it ritual.

Rituals, like new moon manifestations, full moon purges, making the morning coffee, and birthday parties,, have long been part of my life. Why were these consistencies OK, but not 10am nap time? I had to ponder this only a moment to realize that it is the magic of those practices that had me repeating them daily, monthly, or yearly. Nothing about these practices are mundane (except maybe making coffee when I am so tired I can hardly focus on what I am doing). Each one has its own magic to make it special. So, I took on the challenge to transform the mundane parts of my day into magic.

4 Boring Daily Doings I Transformed Into Ritual

Waking up. Sure, some of you may love it when you start the day. I do not. I used to be a morning person, before I had kids, and now I ache for all the sleep I can get. And yet, to make waking up magical, I had to make it mine. I wake up on my own. No munchkin yelling mom or obnoxious alarm clock (use an alarm if you have to go to work, but find a sound that isn’t harsh). Before bed each night, I tell myself “wake up at 6 am.” I usually do, and then I have some time just for me—To sit, breathe, take in the day, and drink coffee uninterrupted. There is something magical about the sky right before sunrise and that makes me feel better about this routine.

Getting out the door. Whether you are the person who always forgets something, runs five minutes behind, or yells at the kids to get their booties in the car, find a way to make it fun. I have been playing a song 10 minutes before we NEED to be leaving and during this song we gather what we need. Lately the song has been Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope.” It is catchy and fun to dance around to as we collect keys, shoes, lunches, wallet, phone (which is playing the music, so come on and bring the noise), and whatever else we need. The first one to the door gets to choose the song for the car ride. Alternatively, if you don’t have kids, if you gather all your stuff before the song ends, splurge on a coffee or another treat you love. Have to go back in for something or take too long? Buy a friend or co-worker a treat. This way you experience the magic of paying it forward or treat yo’self for having it together. Win-win!

Cleaning house, laundry, and other boring stuff. I am not a fan of full-day house cleanings, so I do a little each day. As I am putting clothes in the wash, I think: May they be clean so that when we wear them we look and feel our best. When I clean the kitchen, I think: May this space be clean so our next meal can be tasty and nourishing—nothing gross getting into our bodies. When I clean the bathroom or floors, I think to myself: Let them be cleared so that we may move with ease being our best. I have used mantra like the chant to Ganesh (Om gum ganapatayei namaha) to remove obstacles from my home and my day. I have created a 20-minute playlist filled with songs that invoke love and happiness, so that I can fill my home with that juju, instead of the irk or annoyances I can feel when i have to clean the bath tub again. Keeping the positive vibe in your home and filling your acting with love and magic.

Cooking. I love baking and cooking, most of the time. Some days, though, feel like I am always in the kitchen or a made-to-order chef. Neither are fun. If food is not your thing, start with a simple recipe. Focus every drop of attention you have on creating this dish whether it be scrambled eggs, veggie soup, or Taco Tuesday—pour your love and attention into each detail. When you cut veggies, draw awareness of the effort it takes to slice and dice. As you stir, mix, or sauté, make it a moving meditation. Watch the combination or the movement and feel that focus of watching what you are doing—truly making food from a place of love and getting a little meditation out of it, too.

If you hate routine, like I do, it might not feel like magic right away, but when you find yourself bored with the rise and grind of day to day life, all it takes is a different view point and a shift in attitude to make everything feel like ritual and magic instead of routine and mundane!

Photo by lillie kate, used with Creative Commons license

LizLiz Vartanian is a yoga teacher, writer, and mom living in Austin, TX. She teaches restorative yoga offering yogis a chance to leave class feeling energized and supported with a side of community as students are often surprised with home cooked goodies after long relaxing Savasanas. She is the co-creator of eight limb//life, a course encouraging everyone to discover their practice of yoga in all aspects of life. When not teaching yoga, Liz can be found with her family where there is coffee, good friends, toy trucks, and a body of water!