that’s not a ritual, that’s just a routine

image credit: byjacki.com

image credit: byjacki.com

when i first set out to write this post, the idea had been to try my hand at the blogger’s favourite: “my morning ritual”. easy, i thought, i’m a creature of habit – this will be a walk in the park. but as I started to write, something about it just wasn’t quite ringing true.

life right now – and ever since I moved to london – has had a sort of temporary feel, the kind that comes with finite visas and no guarantee of long term residency. my experience here is frustratingly temporary, and that unsettled-ness has infused through all parts of my life, and arguably my psyche.

prior to this, in the 18 months spent in inner sydney, my morning was a series of rituals. straight-out-of-bed yoga took on a rawer feel in my east-facing bedroom, the heat of the sun so intense (even at 7am), the stillness of the space leaving just me, my mat, my breath, the growing sheen of perspiration, the rhythm of repetition. focus narrowed, awareness stripped back to the essential, i’d surface from my practice feeling grounded, calm, in control.

my london flat is too cold for this, my bedroom too poky – full of drying laundry I’m forced to climb around and over to get to the bed. goodbye morning yoga.

instead, I try to meditate – ‘try’ being the operative word. there is no space to lay my mat, so I perch on the bed. ground floor and street-facing, the room is subject to a flurry of foot traffic between 7 and 9 every morning – parents with chattering children, businessmen on their mobiles, uni students engaged in animated conversations. it’s a test of focus and patience; sometimes i pass, at other times i fail miserably. but i persist, i persist, i persist.

what i have discovered is that ritual cannot be forced. when it’s constructed with too much thought, there’s a sense of the artificial, the inauthentic, i can’t relax into it. It’s not a ritual, it’s just a routine.

ritual grows organically from a place of what feels good, what feels right, what my spirit needs to nourish it. of late, i’ve lost that sense. i’m a split second out of sync with the world around me. i’m the kid in the jump rope game who can’t quite time their entry, constantly pulling back or getting tangled in the rope. it’s a fug, a mismatch, a lack of flow.

maybe the comparison, the yearning for something lost is part of the problem. perhaps my restlessness, the urge to discard everything and try something completely new, is what holds me back. learning to sit with these feelings, to acknowledge them but not make any rash decisions – maybe that’s a lesson in itself.