by Tracy Lee
“Honey, I’m home”, says the most important person in my life. “Mmm hmm” I mumble, not looking up from my task. I’m in do mode; don’t bother me, don’t interrupt. Technically of course I’ve already been interrupted by recognizing he’s home and responding (the socially acceptable thing to do).
Is this really how I want to act, causing this most important person in my life to realize and point out that I’m not paying attention? Absolutely not!
So why don’t I just take a breath, put my task aside, and reach out to give a proper greeting? Now when we come together, I smile, look into his eyes while we gaze lovingly at each other for three breaths, then say, “I receive you openly through my heart into my mind and body. Welcome.” This is my mantra to my sweetie, and he has one for me too. Then we have a quick kiss, and now I can go back and easily focus on my task. It took us all of 90 seconds to deeply connect. After I finish my task we’ll connect properly, this time by chatting and sharing our days with each other.
We go through life unconsciously doing things all day long. We roll out of bed on the same side every day. Then we follow the same routine to that morning cup of coffee. How many things did you do from waking up to sipping your java? Did you think about any of them? How much more of our day do we spend in this no-thinking routine? I know I look at my cell phone at least 10 times a day just to check the time. But when I think consciously about finding out what time it is, I realize that I just looked at my phone, noted the time, then promptly forgot it.
Conversations, dish-washing, time with the kids, making love. What if we slowed down a bit and focused? How might that change the quality and depth of these actions? It’s important that I interrupt my task, pay attention, and really say hello. And what if I stop trying to think about how I want to reply when we’re having conversation? I might actually hear what you’re telling me.
If I stand loose and relaxed, and quiet my breathing before I start the dishes I might be able to shift from Oh, dishes, boring…. to Ahhh, I get time to meditate and quiet my thoughts while my hands are busy.
These little steps are rituals. They focus our attention, perhaps on creating a specific outcome or inspiring us to accomplish a task. Notice the difference in my hello, from dismissive to intimate. Lately I’ve created a solo ritual for myself of taking 30 seconds before I eat to think about what I am grateful for, including the meal in front of me. Gratefulness grows gratitude, and a focused hello or discussion grows intimacy.
It takes practice, time and determination to put these patterns into place. Always insert tab A into slot B. The challenge is bringing yourself to be fully present—every time. Choose one thing to practice with. Where in your life could a few seconds of presence enhance the moment? Maybe a task you have a hard time getting to could be ritualized just a bit to transform it from that awful boring chore. Which is what laundry is for me–it never ends, and you have to get to it to have clean clothes to wear, but you can’t leave the washed clothes unattended in the dryer because ironing out the wrinkles will be even more work. This could be my one thing to practice on. Think about what yours could be.
I teach many intimacy-building rituals that you might add to your daily life for yourself or with a partner. Schedule a Rituals for Romance workshop for you and your friends or see me in a confidential setting. Learning intimacy will enrich your relationships and your life. Contact me if you would like to connect.