I’ve had a morning ritual for much of my adult life. It has changed over the years but a couple of elements have remained: getting up earlier than anyone else in the household and taking the time to make and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. On the rare days I allow myself to wake up at the same time as my children I know within minutes that I am saner, kinder and more altogether myself when I have begun the day alone.
My morning ritual acts as an announcement to my body that the day has begun. It also tells my heart not to worry. Slow down, it says, let the coffee grounds bloom. Those moments in the early hours are precious to me precisely because my ritual allows me a different way of experiencing time. I have not entered the rest of the day yet, where, to be sure, the clock will begin its tyranny over me. No, in the small hours I exist outside the usual demands of time, I have space and I am, in a small way, free.
In this morning quiet I am also particularly present to my body. I move around my kitchen softly, enjoying the familiarity of the tasks that my eyes, hands, feet, ears and mouth have grown accustomed to. So ingrained is this ritual that I could probably make a cup of coffee in the dark.
There are many actions my body is habituated to perform. Some are life-affirming: opening my hand as I walk with my children to let a smaller hand grasp mine; waving at my neighbour as she drives by. But others are not so generous: tensing up as I open the door to a stranger; scowling too often at folks I share the road with.
Perhaps the more we use our bodies in rituals of goodness - something as simple as making a cup of coffee - we will remember how it feels to live with intention in a culture that almost punishes us for taking a moment to ourselves. Let’s take our moments and use them; let’s allow our bodies to do good.