Creating A Ritual: Culminating to Change

May 25, 2020

By Boyuan Gao

For those of you who’ve followed along these past three weeks, thank you! If you took on the daily challenges (even if you picked and chose along the way) congrats! Let’s acknowledge that we packed in a lot, and you’re stretching and expanding yourself into the greatness that is available to you. Of course, this is not a destination, it’s a process, so today we’re going to talk about how to turn a new practice into a habit, and a new habit into a lifestyle. That’s how change happens. We’d like to think that it’s all at once all of the time, but the things that sometimes matter the most, are the little mundane decisions we make that accumulate into the transformation we’ve been seeking. Join fellow seekers. 

Now what?!

We’re going to synthesize all of the good things and suggest a simple morning practice and before-bed-time ritual to wet your appetite. Each one only takes a few minutes, so we’ll add one additional layer each day. You can refer back to any of the previous challenges on our IG or the blog when you’re ready to add some more complexity, or if you just found a practice that you really loved, but it’s not incorporated here. Do you boo!

day one practice

Day 1 Morning: 

Nadi Shodhana breathing meditation:

Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is a pranayama technique also from the yogic tradition that creates a balance between your body, mind, and emotions. It’s powerful and really can take just a few minutes. I do it every morning before I start my day, but it’s also really effective to prime you for bed.  

Time: 5-10 minutes

What you need: A place to sit

Directions: 

  1. Set a timer on your phone for 5-10 minutes
  2. Sit in a comfortable seat with your spine erect, but relaxed
  3. Place your left palm up on your left leg, while you bring your right hand up toward your face
  4. Your pointer and middle finger will be relaxed and centered hovering over your nose bridge
  5. Take a deep inhale and exhale at your own pace with your eyes closed
  6. With your right thumb, press it against your right nostril while taking a deep inhale through your left nostril
  7. Press your right ring finger and pinky against your left nostril to close it while still holding an inhale for a moment while releasing your thumb off of the right nostril
  8. Now your right nostril is open again, exhale until you’ve exhausted your breath
  9. Take a moment to pause, before inhaling through your right nostril again
  10. Repeat this for 5-10 cycles until you hear the ding of your phone

Day 1 Night: 

Gratitude before bed

Time: 5 minutes

What you need: A journal

Take a moment to reflect on the day. Regardless of your internal experience of the day, you accomplished a lot just by getting here. Scan through the activities and moments, and record the following in your journal.  

  1. One thing that you’re grateful for
  2. One thing you learned
  3. One thing that made you laugh
  4. Date each day you do this, so you can look back a few weeks later, and be like “Damn. I did that!”
day two practice

Day 2 Morning: 

  1. Nadi Shodhana 
  2. Set up your dedicated workspace for the day

Time: 5 minutes

What you need: A dedicated physical space to claim 

No matter if you’re still working a 9-5, freelancing, unemployed AF – embarking on tweaking your resume again, or applying for emergency loans, work is work. It takes focus and uninterrupted flow to sustain this level of deep thinking.

  1. Find a dedicated space in your apartment/house that you will claim as your workspace today.  
  2. Create a space to be sacred. How? Just declare it so, and make it known, if you live with others. This will be your hideout today, tomorrow, maybe in perpetuity. It’s about delineating those boundaries, sometimes even if it’s just with ourselves. 

Day 2 Night: 

  1. Evening gratitude journaling.
  2. Give thanks to the good + not so good

To add to your evening gratitude journaling now’s an opportunity to transform those things that are real or perceived obstacles, and use those as inflection points for growth, and therefore gratitude as well. As Jen instructed in last week’s gratitude challenge blog post, shift your perspective of the “not great things” by being in the inquiry of “what did I learn from that?” Whatever that lesson is, is the thing that is contributing growth and goodness into your present being. Take a moment to be present to those things, and add them to your gratitude journal. 

day three practice

Day 3 Morning: 

  1. Nadi Shodhana breathing
  2. Setting your workspace
  3. Calling in the future

Time: 5 – 10 minutes (or until you fall asleep)

What you need: A journal and pen

A refresher for this exercise is to call in an intention for the future but state it in the form of the present. There are no limits to what you have the ability to call in, it can be something material or tangible, like a new apartment, it can be a new romantic relationship that you are calling in or even a state of being. The construction of a table started with a thought. A thriving global business also started with a thought. Now you try. Give gratitude to the existence of 3 things in your life that haven’t yet materialized, but speak them in as though they are here. E.g. “I am grateful for my new thriving career!” or “I’m grateful for sustained joy.”

Day 3 Night: 

  1. Gratitude before bed
  2. Give thanks to the good + not so good
  3. Stimulate your senses

Time: 5 minutes

What you need: diffuser and your favorite essential oil 

  1. Locate what you are looking to balance. Look up what aromatherapy oils and scents best address them.
  2. Find an ethical and quality supplier. Here is a site with one of my personal favorite essential oil brands. A little goes a long way, and just like anything, the quality, and source of the product matter.
  3. Get cranking with the good vibes, and feel the calm over you as you begin to doze off.
day four practice

Day 4 Morning: 

  1. Nadi Shodhana breathing
  2. Setting your workspace
  3. Calling in the future
  4. Declutter 

Time: 5 minutes

What you need: nothing

Now we’ve practiced these centering movements throughout the morning and got ourselves into a great headspace, let’s make sure that our physical and digital spaces are setting us up powerfully. Every day take just the 5 or so minutes to completely tidy up around you and make sure that you are in the condition and environment for clarity. 

  1. Clear your physical space – what things are strewn about that need to be placed back in their “homes”? Clear all clutter around your computer, notebook, etc. 
  2. Clear your digital space – what tabs are just distractions? Do you open up NYTimes or CNN on autopilot? Do you need your phone in sight? Closeout all tabs that don’t need to be open
  3. Hide your phone away from you (trust me, you’ll only check social media)
  4. Now you’re ready to go! 

Day 4 Night:

  1. Gratitude before bed
  2. Give thanks to the good + not so good
  3. Stimulate the senses
  4. Deep relaxation – wave breathing

Time: 5 – 10 minutes (or until you fall asleep)

What you need: A bed/couch/floor to lie down

  1. Lie down in a comfortable position, similar to savasana in yoga (feet facing outward, and arms relaxed to each side of your body)
  2. Close your eyes, and relax your breath
  3. Now, inhale through your lower belly, by expanding it fully like a balloon
  4. Keep that breath steady and potent, and bring it to expand your lungs in all directions (most people only breathe into the front of their lungs, but make sure that you breathe into the sides and back as well)
  5. Keep expanding that breath up into your throat
  6. Hold it there for one count, and start to draw the breath down again
  7. Bring the breath the way it came up, first down the throat, then your lungs, expanding at your lower belly
  8. Keep going for 20-30 cycles, at the pace and smoothness of ocean waves
day five practice

Day 5 Morning: 

  1. Nadi Shodhana breathing
  2. Setting your workspace
  3. Calling in the future
  4. Declutter 
  5. Check-in with your values

Time: 5 minutes

What you need: A journal + pen

You’ve created great conditions for a clear mind and clear space. As my mentor always said, “you can’t create on top of doodoo”, so now you’ve cleared the doodoo, and it’s time to create. The last add-on until you have a complete morning routine, is to check in with your values, intentions, and the gap between where you want to go, and where you are. This will inform what you can begin doing today. There’s not a lot to “do” here, it’s more of the check-in itself that’s critical. 

  1. Check-in with your top 3 values. Are they still aligned? Do they need to be adjusted? 
  2. Check-in with, create, or readjust your goals. Are they still true to you today? 
  3. Identify the gap. If you are aligned keep going! If not, make note of what the gap is, and commit to only one action today that closes that gap. That’s what you’ll take action today! 

Day 5 Night:

  1. Gratitude before bed
  2. Give thanks to the good + not so good
  3. Stimulate the senses
  4. Deep relaxation – wave breathing
  5. Body scan meditation

Time: 5 minutes

What you need: A place to lie down

Now that you’ve added in the deep relaxation – wave breathing to your routine, a simple and easy add-on is a body scan practice. The transition you wave breathing – which already provided awareness of your physical body, into a body scan, by paying extra attention to each region of your body, while sending it energy. 

  1. Now starting with the front side of your body, draw your breath from your feet, sending up white light. Keep going up to your ankles, your shins, your knees, your hands, arms, torso, so on and so forth, feeling those areas of your body fully. Feel the air or the clothing touching those areas. 
  2. Wherever there’s tension or pain, breath into those areas with white light.
  3. Once you draw your breathing up the front of your face and to the top, now cycle that energy down the backside of your body, doing the same – fully feeling each body part, breathing in the tension areas, and drawing in white light all the way until you come down to the backs of your legs, your calves, your ankles, down to your feet. 
  4. Repeat as needed. 

BAM, and just like that, after a week of dedicated practice, you now have a new morning and evening routine. The trick now is to keep it going. Even if you did just one of these things every single day, preferably morning and night, you’ll be a lot better off than you are now. You provided time to take care of your emotional/spiritual and physical well-being, which not many people can say for themselves, sadly. You are lightyears ahead and are building your reserves to weather both this pandemic storm or whatever other storms are on the horizon. Life is going to keep life-ing, but you’ll be resilient – my friend.

As always, let us know how your journey goes. What have you discovered about yourself? 

 

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