In the Tao of Inner Peace, Diane Dreher talks about the calming influence of a personal ritual of stability. She was talking about meditation for the most part, that most people who stick with the practice find it centering, stabilizing, calming. But she says, the important piece is not meditating, but having a personal ritual of stability, one that works for us and that we commit to practicing faithfully.
I have always struggled with meditation. Early on, I learned not to get caught in the trap of thinking that my mind should go blank or that there was somewhere to get to. But I am an anxious and restless person by physiology and sitting still for long periods is just hard for me. So while I do meditate some of the time, it is not my personal ritual of stability.
Like many of my generation, I began journaling as an older teen and started a dozen fresh, clean books with a few pages of angst every time there was an emotional upset. Then when things were going well, I didn't feel any need to unburden myself so the journal would lapse and I would start a new one a year or so later. When I was deep in my addiction in my 30s, I couldn't bear to write down the depth of shame and self-loathing I felt. Who'd want to read that? I sure didn't.
But a couple of years into sobriety, perhaps just after completing my 5th step, I began to write every day, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, and 7 years in when I encountered The Artist's Way and Julia Cameron's Morning Pages, I got more regular about time and length and for more than 15 years, I have written just about every day, every morning. I get up in time to do it, no matter what my day looks like (even when I have to be at the airport at 5:30 am). It stabilizes, grounds, calms me to do it.
Is it genius? Hardly. Is it interesting to read? Don't know, I seldom read any of it again. It's the act tthat's important, the ritual of clearing my mind, of letting go of yesterday, or sorting through problems, of feeling grateful, of finding stability.
Do you have a personal ritual of stability?