Strike a Match

Each night as we gather together for dinner there are always lit candles on the table. If there doesn’t happen to be a table, there are still candles lit somewhere nearby.

Nearly always we spend time to ‘set’ the table. It’s a thing in our family. When I was growing up, this was mostly reserved for Sunday dinner. However, while living overseas with our own young family it was like this every evening. Partly as the kitchen was all tiled (yes ALL the walls as well the floors) and so we chose to eat in the dining room. Our table was also one that needed placemats so as not to damage it, so every night there would be placemats, candles, napkins, the works. Everything placed… just so.

I have always appreciated ritual. It seems to bring something a little special to the table, so to speak.

What’s the difference between a habit or a ritual? And are they always helpful?

The word ritual comes from Latin ritualis, from ritus (see rite). Rite, often used in rite of passage, or “social custom, practice, or conventional act”. Both, often used in religious terms. I think of them more in terms of transitioning. How might we move from one thing to another, with some sense of it all.

Times of transition are when we often get stuck. Have difficulty. How do we move from one thing to another? It might be a life transition. Perhaps it’s transitioning from our work day to home life (blurred lines at the moment). Seems we are in a time of huge transitions. Or maybe it’s from wakefulness to sleep. Or from sleep to wakefulness. Acknowledging there IS a transition taking place can be helpful.

I like to have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. This habit makes it tricky for other things to occur afterwards. The coffee leads to breakfast and suddenly I don’t feel like doing yoga asana or movement. My early morning window of opportunity is gone. I’ve worked to change this at times, but it’s ever so easy to slip back into familiar patterns. This habit, not all that supportive.

What if we turned habits into rituals? Rather than these automatic patterns we have accumulated over the years that served us well (or not) we create specific rituals to support transitions with a little more ease.

Waking up and then what? Is there available space or time for … maybe something other than coffee? What can you do that sets you up for your day? A nourishing breakfast. Solitude. Prayer or meditation. Fresh air or exercise. Or it is straight in to the demands of the day?

From work day to evening. Time alone, or with your partner, or family. Maybe allowance for what each person needs to transition from one to the other.

For me, one ritual is to set the table. Place the candles. Strike the match. … the ritual, the transition. This making way from one setting to another. We set aside what came before and meet together in this new space.

Rather than your usual habits what might be some rituals that support your transition from evening to sleep?

Curious to explore this further? Click the link below where we’ll explore this transitioning during the day and into our sleep. We begin tomorrow!

As I write this, feeling deep gratitude for my teacher Anne. Who reignited the significance, relevance of this ritual for me personally. Not just lighting the candles, but striking a match and doing so with purposeful intention.

What rituals are most meaningful in your life? How did you learn them? Why do you choose to carry them forward? I’d love to hear from you.

Bright Lights, Dim Prospects & Daunting News

One of the basics of sleep hygiene is to sleep in a darkened room. Kind of a no-brainer.

However, what is a common reason people wake up in the night? If you’re like me, it’s often to go to the bathroom. Where are the brightest lights in your whole house? Likely the bathroom. Imagine the signal these bright lights are sending to your sleep systems?

Maybe you wake up for some other reason and next thing you know, you’re scrolling on your phone. Many are aware there’s a way to switch it from Light to Dark mode so perhaps the light won’t interfere with you getting back to sleep – too much.

Yet, what is the content you’re reading? Is it news? Social media? Is it something that might alert or arouse your nervous system or thoughts… late at night? Both, seem to have a way to wind things up for many.

These are a few of the things we will be exploring in Rest & Restore: Strategies for Sleep that begins Feb 16th. Each Tuesday night we’ll dig into some of the research around sleep. Then, explore some practices to help calm your sleep systems or change some unsupportive sleep patterns. Add in some quiet time and finally an opportunity to ask questions, connect with others should that be of interest you.

Though the sessions will be on Zoom, if you’re not a Zoom user or are experiencing Zoom fatigue, everything will be available for you to view on your own schedule, at your own convenience on the Teach:able platform.