I discovered while being unemployed for the first time ever if you don’t count the year I had a newborn, that I need routine in my life. It pained me to admit it. I had thought of myself always as a free spirit chafing against the status quo.
And there I was unmoored. Of course, the financial uncertainty and need to find a new job colored the experience, but overall, I learned a lot about myself.
Left to my own devices, I am a train wreck. I need structure and ritual in my life.
The COVID years of working at home just really drove this home. That 18 months or so I was here working is time I will never have back. Wasted. I lost the rhythm of my life. I have been uncentered.
I’m in the process of reasserting structure in my life. Regular bedtimes. Regular mealtimes. Yoga. Chores. Writing. Other projects. Taking care of my mother. Etc.
But ritual. As an anthropology major in college, I know how important ritual is for the human condition. Every society has theirs and I need mine back.
Ritual, for me, is that thing you do when you are recognizing the universe as larger than just your puny life. It is both a coming home and a reaching out. I’m not talking about daily routine. I’m talking about entering liminal space — where you can hear yourself think. Call it meditation. Call it prayer. Call it mindfulness. Your daily walk. Call it anything you want. But I need a daily session of listening for the still small voice.
Before my life became a chaotic mess, I was meditating for 15 minutes a day in my formal living room. I had the singing bowl and the little cushion it sits upon; I had the piece of wood used to strike it, I had an hourglass filled with black sand to time the experience, and a scented candle. I had my zafu to sit on. I loved those 15 minutes of the day. And I’ve lost them.
The place and instruments of ritual are important. When my living room became a storage facility, I quit meditating. It was like someone closed the church and so I just quit going. I regret that loss.
I picked that spot for meditating because it was the one room in the house that was usually orderly, clean, and free of puppies. I could sit without a dog in my lap or be reminded of laundry that needed folding. 7 PM every day. My vantage point looked out into the forest behind my house. Some days of the year the sun was setting. If it was dark, my reflection in the glass of the atrium door looked back at me. I would close my eyes and let thoughts slide by without trying to grab them or tame them or interact with them. Watching from afar until they began to slow down. Little thought bubbles over my head popped one by one until I reached a state of grace. I trained my body to 15 minutes. I could get there pretty fast most days.
I always had the goal of meditating longer, but my life doesn’t have big blocks of time available where I can be free of outside interruption. I need this time blocked out on my calendar, part of the structure of my day, same time, same place, same me.
My living room is a disaster and at the moment I have no other spot in the house that is tranquil. This is an excuse. I should be able to sit here and close my eyes and go, but the accouterments of ritual are part of the ritual. They are important to the experience.
I must figure this out. I need to carve out one spot in this house where I can set up my meditation practice and bond with the universe again.
I am in sore need of a quiet(er) mind. Liminal space.