Rituals can be found at the very foundations of every ancient culture, yet their significance today is often overlooked. Human beings naturally gravitate toward rituals. For example, the way we comb or brush our hair, the route we take to work or the things we do when we prepare for a big competition, presentation or meeting.
When we switch off our autopilot and perform a routine with intention and purpose, we transform our habits into sources of inspiration and bring about measurable impactful results. The results of a recent sports psychology study indicated clear performance benefits of pre-performance rituals, including improved attention and increased emotional stability and confidence (i).
It is natural to resist the concept of introducing a ritual into your daily life when you desperately seek to reduce your to-do list rather than add to it. Relax. There is a creative way around this. Simply transform the time you usually spend each morning doing something routine like taking a shower or brushing your teeth into a conscious morning ritual.
You can begin this tomorrow. Instead of leaping out of bed when the alarm clock startles you, checking your phone for news, messages and emails, running over the day's to-do list in your mind and filling your head with fears about how you are going to fit everything in and get through the day, when your body feels like a lead balloon. Instead, imagine doing things a little differently.
Visualise yourself taking a moment tomorrow morning before getting out of bed to check in with how you are feeling and gently appreciating your body. Imagine focusing your attention on the part of you that most feels alive and inviting the feeling you have in that area to expand and spread out across the rest of your body.
Picture yourself turning your awareness to your breath and taking three full, deep breathes to re-oxygenate your body, then ease it slowly out of bed. Imagine stretching your arms and legs and consciously bringing yourself into the body that will be supporting you today.
Purposefully use the time when you take your shower, make your morning cup of tea or brush your teeth to create a vision of the future. Harness that energy and allow it to help you set a positive intention for the day. Ask your inner guidance, 'What one quality can I bring to my day today for my highest good'. Allow an answer to flow to you and give you inspiration to carry you through the day ahead.
You can boost your morning ritual by adding music, looking at an inspiring image or vision board, singing or some other form of conscious body movement. Have fun with it and prepare to feel it powerfully affect your everyday experience.
i. Developing Effective Pre-performance Routines in Golf', Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, Volume 22, Issue 1, 2010, Stewart T Cotterill, Ross Sanders, Dave Collins.