Friday, May 8, 2015

Habits and rituals

DSC00777I’ve decided to change how I approach mornings.

Too often I wake with the sunrise, my head full of ruminations and worries.  Invariably I toss a bit, then read a little, finally make a pot of strong coffee and check the overnight email.  Those urgent messages become my emotional focus, coloring the start and driving the day’s plans.

It starts with your sleep patterns, suggests a DSC00761counselor, offering a prescription. “It starts with my bad habits,” I counter.  I’ve spent two years problem-solving, self-reflecting and adapting.  It sets a pattern, no longer a choice. 

Perhaps mindfulness?  I shrug, skeptical of open awareness, instantaneous focus, non-judgmental thinking.  The practice is just wrestling with myself for control of thought and emotion.

An essay advocates conscious adoption of rituals, regular practices that connect people to things outside of themselves rather than inside.   I’m well along the 16 suggestions already, so perhaps all I need is a more forceful physical separation from the settings that feed habit’s wolves 

DSC00756 (650x536)The café up the street offers live music every Wednesday night, light organic dishes: it seems a good place to start.  I’m greeted by vegetable burgers, Dorset craft beer, and a decent guitarist, tucked into a corner amidst (and barely distinguished from) the plants.

DSC00758 (511x650)I took my tablet, pad, and notebook along with me though.  Naturally,  I scribbled off a few thoughts and transcribed work notes while waiting for dinner.

It kind of negates the benefit.

‘Another habit to drop.


When I woke this morning, I walked DSC00763 - Copyout the door (hands empty) instead of into the kitchen.  ‘East to the cliffs, then down for a long stroll among the joggers, seagulls, and dog-walkers along the Bournemouth seafront.  Building crews prepared shops for summer; waiters swept away the sand on terraces.  I cradled a camera and a cup of coffee.  I listened to the waves,  I put the workday aside to ripen a bit.

I looked for my new morning ritual.

DSC00773 (650x433) DSC00784 (650x430)DSC00780 (650x408) DSC00787 (650x433)

It takes (a mythical) 21 days to form (or break) a habit.  It’s probably the same whether focused outside or inside. But this feels like a constructive step forward.

Ironically, the house-mom has been hovering worriedly as I write.  You need to be more Greek, enjoy life. Not so tense, more deep breathing, go drinking coffee by the sea.

Good advice, except that it’s followed with a smile, That’s why the Greeks are bankrupt.

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