Immensely inspired by a video interview I watched this morning, as part of a free Wellness Summit happening online right now, entitled: How to Set Yourself Free From Pain & Misery, with Dr. Sean Stephenson, I was called to craft this post focused on my own personal daily rituals.
In Dr. Stephenson’s interview, he said: I have 16 rituals and if I don’t do at least 4 of them every day, my insecurities will eat me alive.
He said a lot more that’s worth mentioning – I took over 5 pages of notes during the 60-minute video! – but there is much greater value for you, my friends, in watching it yourself (click on link above). It is one of the very best mindfulness-based talks I have ever seen.
So rather than using this post to relay all of my notes, I will instead focus on sharing my daily rituals, which isn’t new for me to do here on my blog but has perhaps been a little while since last I did.
Nicole’s DAILY Rituals (for Self-Care and Cultivating Ease, Joy, and Solidity)
Waking up early enough to enjoy a period of time connecting with myself, amid the graces of quietude and slowness
Writing (if even only a little bit)
Gratitude practice (which I created myself and involves certain verses I say each morning, along with prostrations to the earth)
Saying a connection/gratitude verse before I eat each meal
Watering my seed of joy, with intentional skillful effort
Guarding well my sensory input (TV/films, music, books, magazines, conversations, social media, news…)
Resting (which for me typically comes in the form of taking a nap every day; even on the days I work, as soon as I get home around 4:00, the first thing I do is lay down to take a short nap before preparing dinner)
Maintain consistency with when I eat each meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Wake up at the same time every day (5:00am) and go to bed around the same time each night (between 9-10pm)
Nicole’s WEEKLY Rituals (for Self-Care and Cultivating Ease, Joy, and Solidity)
Attend sangha every Monday night
Participate in my self-crafted Mindful Morning Saturday practice
Watch a Dharma talk and/or mindfulness-based teaching video online
Spend time dancing and exercising
Devoting one morning (usually Sundays) to Lazy Morning practice
Nicole’s YEARLY Rituals (for Self-Care and Cultivating Ease, Joy, and Solidity)
Attend our two locally held and organized mindfulness retreats with my extended Montana sangha family
Prioritize solo sojourns
Spend extended, concentrated time on personal retreat (or amid other practice-related spells of personal quietude)
Attend local days of mindfulness and special practice events hosted by our sister sanghas as much as possible
As long as the essence and aim of my life is to actualize optimal well-being and be of support and benefit to others – which it is – a vast majority of my above rituals (daily, weekly, and yearly) are non-negotiable. It is not a thing for me to pick and choose which rituals to do or not do. Over the years, I’ve experienced how vital these rituals are to my quality of well-being and my ability to skillfully impact others, and I’ve developed great faith and confidence in their wisdom.
Well-being, joy, ease, contentment…sanity, don’t develop on their own accord or as a result of some external happening. They don’t manifest by checking off items on our bucket-list or attracting some hot guy or vacationing to a tropical island. In every moment we have a choice of how we want to live. We have a choice of what seeds we water and what storylines we invest our mental energy into.
As Dr. Stephenson stated in the interview I watched:
We don’t have control over our spouse, the government, the weather – but we do have control over our interpretations and our response to our interpretations.
Easy leads to atrophy. You have to put in effort; you have to roll up your sleeves; you have to do the work. It’s easy to alter your brain chemistry with drugs/alcohol; easy to eat fried/fatty foods; easy to sleep in and not go to the gym; easy to watch pornography than to have a deep connection with another human being that leads to amazing intimacy. Anything that’s easy will lead to atrophy.