Words by Cory Ohlendorf
Our lives move pretty fast these days. Things have never been more convenient, so we're constantly finding new ways to optimize the day-to-day. We have so many subscriptions and life hacks, we're able to breeze through life without feeling like mundane chores are “slowing us down.”
The downside to moving so fast is that your life often feels like you're riding on a high-speed train—you're zipping by onto the next item on your to-do list, zooming towards your next big thing. Outside, the landscape is blurring by but we're speeding along so fast that we can't really take it in and appreciate it.
Now, we're not telling you to become some zen master and lose your hunger or hustle mentality. But there's something to be said for slowing down and appreciating the things that really matter to you. In this age of hyper-connectivity and shortcuts, so many of us have lost the ability to elevate something into the realm of the sacred.
I'm not talking about religion. Though even as a kid, bored in Catholic church, I marveled at all the ceremony—the candles, the incense and sounds—that went into a mass service. Instead I'm talking about a deep appreciation and respect for something in your life that you truly care about. It can be anything. Think about what makes you really happy, and your own rituals will begin to emerge. The goal is to discover which parts of your life you enjoy lingering over and get the most satisfaction from.
It doesn't have to be divine to become a ritual in your life. If you love your coffee, embrace that. Slow down and savor not just the steaming cup, but the practice of preparing the brew. Grind your beans fresh, use the pour-over method to bloom the grounds for fuller flavor and stir your cup with intention before finally taking a sip. Even if the rest of your day is hectic, this can be the moment where you slow down and focus just on yourself and what makes you happy.
If you like a nice hot shower to unwind in the evening, make it into a ritual. Don Miguel Ruiz talks about this in his book The Four Agreements. In the chapter on the Fourth Agreement (“Always do your best”), he writes, “taking a shower is a ritual for me, and with that action I tell my body how much I love it. I feel and enjoy the water on my body. I do my best to fulfill the needs of my body. I do my best to give to my body and to receive what my body gives to me.”
Suddenly, this way of washing off the day and getting ready—either for bed or a night out—becomes a more sacred practice of appreciation and self-care. It's an act of devotion and a space for contemplation. It's when you can allow your mind to wander and think about what's important to you. What's more, it prevents you from taking ordinary things in our lives for granted. At least for just a little while, before we get back to real life.
Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. I think everybody, whether they know it or not, is in need of such a place.
- Joseph Campbell
(Photo: Joan Halifax)