Common restaurant scene: Mom on her iPhone, Dad with his tablet, kids with their iPods and earbuds. “Who is talking to each other”?
Rituals are a part of every society. They differ greatly from routines, and are much more powerful. How can understanding the difference between the two help us craft a nourished life in which restful sleep plays a part? Let’s see.
Routines can be described as being:
- Minimally engaging
- Focused on completing tasks rather than enjoying the process
- Duty based
- Acts contributing little to our sense of belonging
- Externally motivated
- A low awareness activity
Rituals, however, are much more nourishing. They:
- Are fully engaging
- Tell a story
- Brighten awareness
- Are process oriented
- Foster joy and peace
- Are internally motivated
- Are celebration based
- Add to our sense of belonging
- Often feature symbolism and create a sense of purpose
Most of us would agree that the second set of options describes a much greater quality of life. Celebrating our life, lifting awareness so we are more conscious of our blessings, and having peaceful moments are all nourishing tools in the quest for best quality sleep. Being fully present in activities of our choice as we slow down from a busy day and prepare for rest will help us feel more connected with our body, and will reinforce the fact that we are worth our own best efforts in self care.
What rituals might you choose?
- A warm bath, scented with herbs or natural essential oils
- Listening to soothing music
- Listening to a book on tape (bedtime stories for grown-ups!)
- Reading by soft light
- Selecting our outfit and accessories for the next day to reduce the morning rush
- Some slow, gentle stretches
- Deep breathing
- Massaging your feet with natural moisturizers
Our life has a story. When we use the power of positive story as a tool for nourishment, we relax into our life, as it is right now, imperfections and all. To illustrate, maybe we are a working mom, or a working single mom, who feels like the last thing she’ll ever have time for is self-care. Just the thought, “I’ll never have time for me”, creates a stress response. It’s a negative story, one based on scarcity (not enough) and a sense of endless sacrifice. Negative stories and stress responses rattling around in our brain are certainly counterproductive for sleep.
But changing that thought to, “I’m going to turn off the TV or computer 30 minutes earlier so I can listen to some music and have a relaxing bath”, creates a sense of purpose, a sense that we are worthy, and that life is manageable.
Maybe we are so busy that we don’t have any TV time to give up: what then? Evaluating and streamlining some tasks around the house will allow you some precious moments for a nourishing bedtime ritual. There is always time for the things that matter. And you definitely do.