A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: The Importance of Ritual 11

My summer started strong; it left the gate like a racehorse, and it hasn’t slowed down one bit. I sometimes feel as though the horse (we’re talking time, here) has got a mind of his own and I’m barely keeping my saddle. If I were racing to a particular place or for a particular purpose, the speed and chaos would be exciting. As it is, I’m merely breathless and wondering how I ended up on this horse … again.

What I’m trying to say—in case my mangled metaphor has thoroughly confused you—is that it seems like I have no control over my time, which seems to be racing along without any input from me. (And I thought this summer would be different!) Does this ever happen to you?

When I get overly busy like this, my regular rituals get neglected—activities such as walking, yoga, and riding my bicycle, deep journal writing sessions (gasp! yes, even me), meditation, and spending enough time in my garden to keep my precious plants from wilting. Rituals like these—all deeply important to my sense of well being—fall by the wayside because I deem them less important than work and family commitments. And I suppose they should be. Yet, I notice that if I let them go for too long, I begin to get cranky from a vague sense of dissatisfaction, I’m not centered or calm, my body aches more than usual, and my normal clarity of thinking becomes muddy dull.

This morning, I’d had enough of all this rushing around and feeling as though the world would end if I didn’t get this or that done. Instead, I sat at my desk, took a deep breath and lit a candle. Then I opened iTunes and began to play a Bach Cello Suite performed by Yo Yo Ma. I closed my eyes and allowed the music to permeate my being. Only then did I set my fingers on the keyboard to write in my journal. I wrote about everything that was going on in my life. I vented. I poured out my hopes, dreams, and fears. I wrote a little about work, a little about my writing, tested out some ideas. When I was done, I felt cleansed and restored, and filled with a sense of purpose. The rest of my day felt more ordered and peaceful, as well. All from less then 30 minutes of ritual.

Does this ever happen to you? Do you have regular rituals essential to your well being and ability to function?

This week’s journaling prompts help you explore the meaning and purpose of your rituals, whatever they are.

  1. Write a list of rituals important to your sense of well being. These are any activities that you do on a regular basis (however you want to define “regular”) that help you to feel nurtured, centered, and more like yourself. Include how often and when you like to perform these rituals, as well as what conditions need to be in place. For example, for my candle/music/journaling ritual, I need time to myself when I know I will not be interrupted.
  2. Prioritize the items on your list. Which is most important to you and which is least? Are there any rituals you feel you could do without for an extended time? Which ones make you feel the best? Which ones are most difficult to find time to do?
  3. Freewrite for ten to fifteen minutes about your most important, number one ritual, the one you feel you “cannot live without.”
  4. Dig a little. What quality do all of these rituals have in common? Are they all outdoors? Are they all done in solitude? When you have defined at least one commonality, perform a clustering/writing exercise to discover and write more deeply about that quality.
  5. What happens when you get busy? Which rituals are the first to go and which, if any, do you hang onto no matter what? How have you created space in your life for self-nurturing rituals?
  6. Which rituals do you share with others, if any? Describe those rituals as well as how sharing enhances or detracts from their importance to you. If all of your nurturing rituals are done in solitude, spend some time writing about why you need solitude.
  7. Do your rituals connect you with something larger than yourself (community, religion, belief, etc)? If so, what and how? If not, how do you feel about that?

How do you feel about rituals? Do we really need them? Leave a comment.


Altered Image. Original by Jeff Kubina

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11 thoughts on “A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: The Importance of Ritual

  • Pingback: Weekly Journaling Prompts: Ritual — Writing Through Life | personal storytelling | Scoop.it

  • Barbara Toboni

    Good subject, Amber. My most important ritual is exercise. It’s important to my sense of well-being. I don’t always do it in solitude. I walk with my husband or I have a friend I walk with once a week, but I do it every day, outdoors mostly. Otherwise I am not a pretty person. I’m cranky, jumpy, twitchy, crampy, and generally out of sorts. I have no patience for anything. I mostly just walk. I’ve taken classes in the past, but walking works well for me right now. I also do floor exercises a few times a week in addition to walking.

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Barbara, thanks for sharing your ritual. Like you, I am “not a pretty person” if I don’t get exercise. Especially because I spend so much time sitting in front of a computer. Also, I getting outdoors brings me back to the larger perspective of the world.

  • patsy ann taylor

    Ritual is part of my writing process. The first thing I do before sitting at the computer is to organize my office space. Busywork to some, this is the way my mind settles into the business of creating something new or continuing a piece or revising yesterday’s work. I’ve already enjoyed the coffee (decaf for me) and bit of breakfast, dressed, put the house in order, and discussed mutual plans for the day with my husband. All part of my ritual. Maybe not all that exciting, but works for me.

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Ritual is ritual … doesn’t need to be exciting. In fact, most ritual may be about calming, centering, and moving into a place of readiness. Whether it’s a cup of coffee or an hour of meditation, it’s what you do to bring yourself to the writing desk. Want to come over and organize mine?

  • Linda Sievers

    Yeah, we western-minded, high achievers pay a high price for our ‘restlessness.’ I am well familiar with trying to do too much, too fast, too soon, and losing touch with well-intentioned priorities. I sometimes think that cultures that are less materialistically driven, who understand the beauty of the moment and are happy to live with less, are perhaps better off, and in truth are more self-realized than we are.

    My priorities are meditation twice a day, exercise, writing, time with my husband, and then wahatever else comes to me. I don’t go looking for ‘things’ anymore. They usually prove to be too disappointing and draining. And if nothing turns up, I’m off the hook so to speak. The universe doesn’t need or want me to do anything. Lucky me! And here I thought I was soooooooooooo important.

    Let go and let God (whatever that is for each of us), the entity that knows best what each of us needs, can then kick in for us. Or so I like to believe.

  • Lynn

    Good subject. I’ve mangled my rituals and I’m in an unknown period.

    Mangled is too strong a word. I’ve released my rituals, and if they were mine, they’ll either come back to me or be replaced by something better for this time in my life. I’m writing a response instead of a journal. Maybe it will lead to journaling and maybe that will lead me to my works in progress.

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Ah, release and surrender. There is a place for both of these, and I like the image of releasing rituals, like setting white doves free and watching them fill the sky, wondering which ones will return. There’s something liberating about that image. Thanks for sharing it, Lynn.