Ritual and Routine

In routine we can find comfort in regularity and efficiency in familiarity but there can be a point where routine becomes relentless and exhausted.

Michael Schechter talks about ritualizing moments that have become routine:

The difference between routine and ritual is likely a semantic one, but I’ve found it to be a useful distinction. Separating the things I have to do every day from the moments I want in my day has dramatically improved my happiness.

Ritual becomes distinct from routine when the purpose continues to be defined in that moment. When you can remember why you’re doing it and that why remains important enough for you to be doing at that time is when that moment goes beyond habit. That’s when it’s something you want in your day rather than have to do.

You can maintain this distinction by the way you go about your habits. Patrick Rhone, in the essay Sacred Spaces from his book enough, compares similarities in churches, temples, and mosques—places of worship—to the practices that happen there.

In these places, he says, the physical spaces, the gatherings that happen there, and the way people meet generally follow customs and rituals so that the focus of the time spent there is spiritual and rite.

Rhone states:

There is a purpose within most of these rituals: to turn your attention away from the things outside towards the focus on the practice within.

By purposefully and deliberately setting up an environment where your focus can remain on the “practice within”, you can drown out the routine so that the rite moments make their impact. Make it a habit to do the setup and preparation that make your practice ritualistic and you’ll find distinction in the repetition of your day.