Updated: Jan 17, 2021
If you asked me the single most transformative thing I have done to elevate my health, I would tell you, without a doubt, adding the daily practice of meditation to my life. Before meditation, the pressures of life would build, with each new frustration or anxiety compounding as the days passed. I would feel stiffness in my neck, pain in my hip, tension in my shoulders. There was no release valve; No reset button. Or perhaps there was: an argument with a friend or partner, a clash with a stranger at the market, an explosion of anger or tears-- events that usually left me physically exhausted and emotionally depleted.
Meditation gave me a healthier way to process these daily frustrations and anxieties, avoiding the negative emotions they triggered. I began meditating every day, overjoyed by the peace it brought me. With balance restored, however, my practice would grow inconsistent, then stop. Inevitably, the pressure would build up again, and I found myself back where I started.
Then something changed my life dramatically. I learned how to make the simple, daily events in my life into rituals. It started with habits that I noticed made me smile: dancing to music while cooking, taking a deep tasty breath of morning air, lighting a candle by my bedside instead of flipping on the lamp. Then it deepened: While dancing, I felt gratitude for my silliness and for the way my children began joining in the fun. When breathing deeply outside, I began trying to identify the tastes in the air. I would watch the shadows the candle cast against the walls. I noticed that these small moments of conscious presence and gratitude were slowly transforming my entire being. I began to feel lighter and more carefree. My body became more resilient—pain and tension did not build up as they previously had. I also noticed that these were things that I had done as a child, when life was more carefree and curious. When life was lived more consciously.
When this transformation began, I kept it to myself, embarrassed that it was weird. But once I embraced the change, I noticed that others enjoyed my rituals as well – there was a certain magic about it that brought a smile to others’ faces. The magic of the ritual created an insulation—a resilience—that I began to seek out. Making small life events sacred transformed my life into a living meditation. It allowed me to foster a sense of conscious presence--not only in myself but in everything around me. Recognizing that consciousness exists in all things keeps me from feeling alone; like I am a part of something bigger than myself.
Now, when I need help, I light a candle to ask. When the tension builds in my body, I soak in hot water and imagine the stress transferring into the water. When worry consumes me, I pick up a rock and put it there. When a bee buzzes around me, instead of swatting it away, I ask it what it has to tell me. Living in this ritualistic and conscious way has transformed my life from ordinary, to sacred—it helped me to become soul minded.