We’ve all got rituals, even if you don’t think of them that way. When you wake up and think, every day and unbidden, think of a cup of coffee, that little ceremony is your own personal ritual. Forget all religious connotations, whether it’s the solemnity of a tea ceremony in Japan or just a little cup of tea in your living room, these little blocks are your time to connect to yourself. Swaddle the things that you want in your life in ritual. Put a little intention behind your daily practices and they become something else altogether.
Rituals can take an extraordinary array of forms; they’re religious and communal, but they are also sometimes performed in solitude. Sometimes they’re prescriptive and repetitive, sometimes they’re freeform. In a more traditional society, almost everything had both a practical purpose as well as something more sacrosanct; from work, to eating, to sex, most practices were charged with a sense of reverence. But ritual is missing in modern life. I’m not religious in the slightest, but the idea of imbuing my daily practice with significance is appealing. Every day, in every way, I’m looking to build a life of greater depth and texture, and so things that make the everyday extraordinary are welcome. We’ve all got some rituals, with varying intentions – to boost confidence, or to alleviate heartbreak or grief… even if we don’t think of them that way.
Making time for new rituals is a commitment, of course, but these little commitments are a way to reaffirm a habit until it becomes second nature. My whole day is made up of a succession of little rituals that form the framework to my day. Whether it’s the first-thing ritual of herbal tea in winter, or the last-thing ritual of rubbing body butter into my feet at night, they mark the open and close of the day. My evening wind-down’s signal the end of the workday, as my morning practices fire me up for the day ahead. I’ve written previously about how taking time for oneself is sometimes regarded both as radical as well as selfish, but nothing could be further from the truth. We’re all spending far too much time responding to email, and far too little on tuning in to ourselves.
Starting small is probably best, because much like brushing your teeth, once it takes hold it also becomes something you don’t even have to think about. Bathtime is a little block of personal time that is, for the most part, sacrosanct, and probably your best leg in to introducing something that is both god for you, as well as feels good.
Cleopatra took baths of milk and honey, and frankly, if it’s good enough for Cleo… I do not, however, have a team of ladies in waiting to draw me a bath, so I’m taking elements of her ritual and combining it with my nani’s sage advice to combine yoghurt, honey, and a rotating assortment of ubtan’s into one super-charged daily mask. Kama and Forest Essentials both have lovely ones, or you can make your own. I whip it up the night before (I teaspoon of each ingredient, and it usually lasts me at least two uses), and if you want to really supercharge this ritual splash out on Purearth’s turmeric face sand, with its lovely blend of haldi, saffron, walnuts, apricot kernels, neem (and more). All organic, biodynamic, and lush. It’s slower than just using a facewash, of course, but it is infinitely more rewarding, both for sensorial pleasure as well as for the benefits it offers your skin. To give it time to work, while it dries on my face I rub oil all over my body and then use a body brush to give myself a once-over from head to toe. Wash it all off in the shower and emerge buffed clean and shiny from head to toe. Honestly, there is no better way to start your day.