I’ve just been to Maui, and our first few hours made me think about arriving rituals. Arriving originally means getting to the river bank – it’s about making the transition from one place to the next. If it were the river bank, you would dry yourself off, put on your clothes and shoes, to be ready for the next stage.
When we landed in Maui, our friends picked us up from the airport, then took us to drop off our luggage at the rental. We then went for lunch, and afterwards to the beach for half an hour, to feel the sun on our backs, the sand under our feet, and to dip our toes in the lovely water. That ‘ritual’ makes all the difference to our arrival. It brings us to land properly in Maui – and I appreciate the reminder – I might have forgotten without the help of our friends, and in a state of mixed excitement and jetlag!
And we may not usually have such big transitions to make, but every day we all benefit from arrival rituals that help us to transition from one stage to the next: home to work, or waking up ready for the day; work to home, or busy day to peaceful evening; childcare to evening when they’re sleeping; and our own daytime to sleep-time.
If we have small ‘arrival rituals’ for each transition, it is easier to ‘land’ in the next stage, and not carry over the feelings and reactions from one stage to the next.
Unconsciously, most of us do some of these rituals: the shower to get ready for the day; the sit-down with a cuppa when we get home at the end of a busy day; the wind-downs we use to get ready for sleep.
And by making them conscious – and introducing them if they are missing – we allow ourselves to land properly. They don’t need to take long – it could be as simple as taking your shoes off at the end of a busy day, and as you do, saying to yourself: ‘Right, that’s done. Now it’s time to relax.’ That way, you won’t just rush on being busy for the evening and wear yourself out completely.
Even if you do have things to do in that next period of time, the five minutes of arrival ritual will enable you to keep perspective on what you have to do, recognise which are really necessary and which can be left, and approach things in a more relaxed way.
Arrival rituals allow us to change state easily, appreciate the different ‘flavours’ of our day, and enjoy our life more. Why not experiment with it for yourself?