“If theater is ritual, then dance is too… When you dance, you can enjoy the luxury of being you.“
~ Paulo Coelho
What are the special moments in your life that anchor you? Why are some activities more than just routine? How do you know when something becomes a ritual?
Webster says the word ritual can be either a noun or an adjective. “The established form for a ceremony” “Done in accordance with social custom” or most germane to my train of thought today “An act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner.”
Ritual and routine are similar words, for all I know they share some of the same etymological roots. To my thinking, your routine has more to do with the overall shape and sequence of your habits, while ritual refers to some of the specific activities within.
Habits can be fully intentional or totally mindless. Stanford researcher B.J. Fogg is my favorite expert on the topic, his work shows that the most profound shifts in personal growth are all derived from the smallest adjustments in routine, thus his book title “Tiny Habits.”
He shows that the simple act of properly making your bed each morning can have a cornerstone effect that bolsters self-esteem and makes it easier to tackle larger issues in your life that arise throughout the day.
Rituals can be found embedded within any habit, although rituals aren’t always habitual. If you have a religious background or come from a culture with strong traditions you may have times of day, dates on the calendar, or periodic celestial events that call for observance.
Some rituals are your own inventions, quirks, or idiosyncrasies that have significance only to you that may be invisible or unimportant to an outside observer. Other rituals are imposed by outside events, prior to coronavirus how often did you wear a face mask?
I like to look for the little actions that gradually take on more meaning and significance as time goes on, until one day I notice that they’ve become important rituals that enrich my existence in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
Reading a few pages of narrative fiction before going to sleep puts me into a mental state conducive to dreaming. An hour out with the dog before sunset clears my head. Putting a nice vintage jazz record on the turntable sets the stage for sitting down to dinner.
Mornings are an especially important time for rituals. Almost everyone has some sort of hot drink habit, caffeinated or not. My preferred mode is to lift off slow with black tea and then kick in the afterburners with a French Press of French Roast coffee later in the morning.
It’s important to pause occasionally and appreciate how much richness, satisfaction, and texture practices like this contribute to your life. Every ritual, regardless of how mundane, is an opportunity to drop into mindfulness and simply enjoy the present moments in life.
Take, for instance, the subject of citrus. One might take the topic of orange juice to be of the slightest consequence in the grand scheme of things, but I beg to differ. Around our house the idea of frozen concentrate or pre-packaged and pre-pasteurized juice is sacrilege.
Indeed, our journey into the exalted ranks of citrus connoisseurs began well over a decade ago with a cursory reading of Conscious Eating by Gabriel Cousens. He writes about the SOEFs (Subtle Organizing Energy Fields) present in raw fruits and vegetables.
According to Cousens, these energy fields are present only while the cellular structure is still intact. Within minutes of breaking the cell walls by juicing, cutting, or cooking, the most highly energized vitamins and nutrients begin to break down.
Whether his theory has scientific merit or is just more New Age nonsense is neither here nor there. My own subjective personal experience, validated by my family and friends, is that the nectar from fresh citrus drank within minutes of juicing, is simply sublime.
From pre-school on, my daughter has started each day with fresh juice. To meet the standards of her own ritual, it has to be strained, free of pulp, and served in her special tiny white mug. Navels, of course, but also Valencias, Mandarins, and Tangerines. Grapefruit? Never!
While her peers in grade school would be constantly out with colds or down with a fever, she rarely had even the slightest sniffle. Could we credit her near-perfect attendance record to the daily ritual of fresh citrus? No, but either way, her immune system seems to be made of iron.
Nowadays my mindful morning citrus session has three parts. While the tea water is coming to a boil I start by juicing a few oranges. Isa prefers hers with pulp so it goes straight into the glass. Some gets strained for G. I’m hardcore with my grapefruit, so that gets the final squeeze.
It’s such a regular feature of our mornings that we don’t give it a second thought. Yet it’s one of those things that adds so much and asks so little. From the first slice with the knife to the last sip from the glass, it’s a simple sequence that reveals a rich ritual.
You surely have such sequences in your life that invite moments of mindfulness to come to the fore. Things that bring you joy and bolster your health in these topsy-turvy times are especially worth your appreciation and attention. Delight dwells in the smallest of moments.
May your week be mindful and your rituals rewarding,
Much love till next Monday!
Dance First Member Spotlight:Jennifer Joy Jiménez & TranscenDance!
’ve known Jennifer for over a decade and have witnessed her growth and evolution as a transformative movement leader. It’s exciting to share with you the news that she is offering a rare Facilitator Training, especially in these times of transition we’re all living through.
Her signature modality, TranscenDance™, is a powerful method and set of tools for personal growth and transformation, but the chance for you to train with her brings much more opportunity than simply learning an effective method of dance and movement.
Jennifer’s secret sauce is her ability to foster an abundance mindset in the folks she works with. Her talent in helping people craft valuable and desirable offerings is second to none. To train with Jennifer is to engage in a process of discovering and delivering your highest value.
Her long list of accolades speaks for itself and includes such feathers in her cap as being considered one of the top 20 movement modalities, a recent write-up in LA Yoga magazine and being a featured faculty member at the Winter 2020 OneDanceTribe gathering.
She’s well-known and well-respected among the leaders in the field. Soul Motion’s Vincent (Arjuna) Martínez-Grieco (with her in the photo above) says: “Watching Jennifer move is like viewing spirit in action. Through power, grace, and beauty she commands attention.”
Nia’s Debbie Rosas puts it this way. “Jennifer is a gifted, creative teacher. She reminds us that through dance we can evolve into spirited and spiritual beings who celebrate the joy of life in the body.”
One of the things that I’ve recognized Jennifer’s talent and leadership in is her ability to work with clients and groups online. Her background as a top trainer with the Brave Thinking Institute has made her a pioneer on teaching virtually long before she put her work as a dance and movement leader front and center.
Get acquainted with Jennifer this Wednesday, July 22nd at 5pm pst. She’s offering a Zoom workshop called TranscenDance™ For Body Freedom for a nominal fee (50% financial hardship discount available).
The TranscenDance™ Facilitator Training is a year-long program that begins with a four-day virtual deep-dive August 6th-9th. There is an application process so you’ll want to learn more and make your inquiry as soon as possible. I highly recommend this program as a path to creating your dream as it provides all the methods, strategies, scripts, and done-for-you materials that you’ll need to launch a rewarding practice.
I’ve worked with Jennifer, danced with her, and seen her in action. I urge you to make time to get acquainted