Ritual vs. Routine

After writing my last blog entry,  I started contemplating the difference in meaning between ritual and routine.  When I look them up in my trusty book shelved Oxford dictionary they both have a very similar meaning:  regular course or procedure (routine) vs.  procedure regularly followed (ritual).  Look them up online and the “all-knowing” Wikipedia offers a similar definition for routine along with a slightly different meaning for ritual, being defined as a set of actions performed for symbolic value.

Here is my spin/definition.  To me routine is doing the same asana and meditation practice that no longer challenges & stimulates the soul.  Routine is just going through the motions so you can put a check mark on your “to do” list and feel a sense of accomplishment.  With routines, there is little sense of passion and curiosity.

Taking vitamins every morning, showering daily and grocery shopping are all routine for me.  Some might consider going to the yoga studio, gym or running a routine (again, a check off the “to do” list), whereas I view my daily asana and meditation practices as rituals.  They are a time for me to explore.  For me, there is a sense of excitement and freedom that gives them a more “ritualistic” quality.

This leads me to my personal conclusion which I’ve been pondering for several days now.  Rituals are special.  Life is special.  Shouldn’t life then be full of rituals rather than routines?  Is it possible to etch a little extra time into our routines to make them rituals in disguise, amongst the hustle/bustle type of lifestyle we live and thrive?  Or do things just have to simply be routine?

If challenge, excitement and surprise result more often from rituals, why can’t we create rituals within the routines?  I say we have a choice.  My choice is to keep stepping out of my routine, doing things differently and enjoying the rituals I discover along the way.  Want to join me for the ride?

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