Simple Sensory Rituals

 Morning Teatime

Morning Teatime

The ordinary is the extraordinary
Gustav Flaubert

Simple sensory rituals bring comfort and grounding to daily living. They nourish the soul. To observe the ordinary and become mindful of the sacredness of life itself, whether handling daily chores or taking time out for small innocent pleasures, is a statement of profound spiritual power. You wed Heaven and Earth as you focus on the beauty and meaning of even the most mundane task. 

There are many routine activities where I can focus on mindful awareness and a sense of the sacred. Some are simple chores like dishes, laundry, cleaning, and preparing food where I can consciously practice the Presence of God. Others, like emails, writing, financials, and things that take focus and concentration, just have to be made sacred by setting an intention and then doing the work. I don’t make a big deal of rituals for most of these things, though I do love to make time for some kind of ritual in my life.

One of the tasks that can feel like a cleansing ritual is doing the laundry. From dumping the soiled clothing into the washer, and adding soap and warm water, the alchemy of cleansing begins as the soil, stains, and dirt are released and washed away. Drying the clothing is an act of returning to form as the twisted wet cloth relaxes and releases back to a soft and original shape. Then the ceremony of returning the garments to their proper places in closet and drawer makes the clothing accessible, returning them to beauty and usefulness once again. 

Bring the muse into the kitchen.
Walt Whitman

The very commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery.
Gertrude Atherton

You are to gather up the joys and sorrows, the struggles, the beauty, love, dreams, and hopes of every hour that they may be consecrated at the altar of daily life.
Macrina Wiederkehr

Some other sensory rituals that lead me to a sense of safety and expansion:

• Cleaning the planters on the first warm day after a long cold winter (or planting, or trimming back, or digging my fingers in good brown dirt).
• A bouquet of roses—and when the timing is right, sunlight and a digital camera to photograph their glorious beauty
• Writing poetry or a song lyric
• Beeswax candles lighting the room and scenting it with honey sweetness
• Essential oils of desert sage, pinon pine, and spruce releasing a high desert fragrance in my home
• Early bed for much needed rest
• Meditation, especially helpful when I’m feeling overwhelmed
• Bells, chimes, rattles, drums
• Colored pens or pencils, a notebook/ crayons and a coloring book
• Singing, especially singing my own songs
• A cup of hot jasmine oolong tea in my hands as watch a sunset 

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn offers many ideas for ways to be mindful and aware in his books and writings. Here is one suggestion:

Prepare a pot of tea to sit and drink in mindfulness. Allow yourself a good length of time to do this. Don’t drink your tea like someone who gulps down a cup of coffee during a workbreak. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.
Thich Nhat Hahn, The Miracle of Mindfulness