Rituals vs. patterns – Day 13

Transformation and Advent

December 15, 2020

Day 13

I'm actually an early riser. I enjoy starting the day early, in peace. In the morning hours I get a lot of readings - sometimes two books at the same time - one after the other, of course.

Since December began, the biorhythm of my body, which actually reliably lets me wake up at the same time in the morning, has been against the grain. I realize that I need more sleep than usual. Maybe that's the inner exhaustion that sooner or later grips us all in the pandemic - I already felt this kind of fatigue in the days after Easter holidays. Or it is simply the proximity to the winter solstice that reminds my body that we also like to hibernate as human beings.

I spend the morning after waking up in a good mix of patterns and rituals. Patterns describe the behaviors that I exercise in autopilot mode - putting on water for my tea, preparing muesli, going to the bathroom for the first time, etc.
Rituals are habits and actions that I practice regularly and in full consciousness with a purpose: reading, meditating, enjoying my breakfast with mindfulness, gymnastics.

Sometimes it happens to me that I catch myself brushing my teeth twice in the morning. That shows me that I was driving in autopilot mode and that I am not aware of what I am doing - I am not mindful. In contrast, every time I know exactly how I felt while practicing my rituals, what I learned or what I experienced. This also includes muscle pain when doing gymnastics, or how well or how little concentrated I was in my meditation.

Rituals actually emerge from the collective context:

"Rituals are institutional patterns in which collectively shared knowledge and collectively shared practices are staged (...)" (link, German only)

I don't necessarily have to practice rituals in a group in order to internalize the practical knowledge imparted to me by masters and experts - I can do that very well on my own.

When I then sit down at my desk - or start the day's activities with other projects, I feel that I am changing - especially after practicing meditation (and actually also doing gymnastics, if I do it):

Rituals "(...) contain moments of reproduction, construction, innovation" (link, German only)

If I have no memory at all of what I did from waking up to going to my desk - whether preparing and eating breakfast or driving to work - then I'm on the autopilot modus and don't get anything from my surroundings - much worse, I'm still disconnected from myself.
If, on the other hand, I consciously beginn my day with rituals, then I feel my inner source of strength (even when my physical strength is still in sleep mode). If I overcome my comfort and regularly manage to keep it for several weeks - then I have the experience that the feeling of overcoming disappears - and my body rather misses something when I interrupt the ritual. Both patterns and rituals are based on habits - and we humans love our habits. Habits are important - they become creatively valuable and essential for my connection with myself if I practice them as rituals with mindfulness and do not dull my behavioral patterns. How important it is to be aware of the importance of one's habits is particularly evident in the current pandemic: Many habits and patterns with which we humans instinctively satisfy needs and cope with our everyday lives are completely turned upside down!

The new rules that experts and authorities convey to us in order to fight the pandemic - they cost us to overcome and shake up our everyday lives. But they are also a chance to switch off the inner autopilot every now and then and to experience how we consciously deal with if and why we change habits - and what is creatively recreated from a more alert awareness and a stronger connection with ourselves then.