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Constructive Constraints & Modern Rituals

There is something grounding and very human about a ritual, something deep within us finds comfort in the process. Rituals aren’t limited to religion and have varied across time and culture. In this present day we seldom encounter them as central components of life and rituals have become something that we have to actively cultivate. Of course we have exceptions but let’s take a closer look at this broad idea.

Ritual or habit? 

The main distinction between a ritual and a habit lies in conscious thinking (as a general rule). You may not realise that you put your left sock on before your right as this is a habit. In contrast, a ritual is a customary conscious decision like stretching your wrists prior to a yoga class or chalking your hands before a lift. Rituals are a deliberate action.

Throw back  

Most people are familiar with rituals associated with religious or tribal ceremonies, in these settings a community recognises and respects a given formality. As many lives have changed we have lost some of our rituals and with it the community ties and momentary pauses that promoted reflection and gratitude. These moments were woven into our daily lives, providing constraints that were set and encouraged by a collective rather than an individual.

Freelance lifestyle 

As the freelance work culture has grown in popularity we have found ourselves with greater freedom and choice than ever before. A lot of people thrive in this environment, however the endless options for how to live our lives cause decision fatigue- like when we are confronted with the endless colourful wall of apparently equivalent laundry powder varieties at the supermarket.  

This is where rituals may come in handy. We can add them in to punctuate our day, and direct our attention deliberately. So how can we bring back the beautiful notion of rituals into our modern day context?

BYO rituals

We create them. As Jocko Willink succinctly says ‘discipline equals freedom’. By imposing structure we are no longer at the mercy of our impulses and can cultivate a sense of direction. 

You can anchor your mind by creating rituals to help provide purpose, and whilst you’re at it, you may as well provide a positive and healthy practice for your body.  This might be as simple as taking a walk to mark the end of the work day and transition to home life. Especially during times of uncertainty, we can find comfort in these grounding regular rituals. 

Take action

What rituals are you going to build into your day/week? 

Jot down 3 realistic rituals that will help propel you in a positive direction. 

The A Life Anywhere 

One of them may include a regular movement practice. The A Life has an online members platform, The A Life Anywhere, that can help you settle into a productive routine. It not only offers new weekly content and live classes but also regular access to an Osteopath to answer your questions and to provide feedback. Please click here to learn more.


April 9, 2020

  1. […] is quite an instinctive action. We can find ourselves stretching as a conscious behaviour or as a subconscious habit. However stretching is not always appropriate and can be counterproductive or even harmful at […]

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