Current Project: Manifesto, The Daily Ritual
The Daily Rituals
by Denmo Ibrahim
I have come to believe that the secret to life is not so secret. It seems the things we were told that matter most don’t and actually we have more say about our own life then we thought. The most profound teachings are the ones we’ve always known, reminders really, and because of how we stumble upon them in an unexpected moment we have direct understanding to something real, an insight, a revelation. I’m pretty sure that wellness is not for sale even after a long-term rental. But the good news is you can grow your own. And I think it begins with the small choices we make every day. Radiance ~ the fruition of joy ~ is when body is no longer separate from mind and action not divided from speech. I’m willing to bet that in the end it’s the daily rituals that make all the difference. Here are a few of my own. It’s by no means complete but it is a good start.
Chew your food. Digestion begins in the mouth. If you feel tired, bloated, or irritable, consider your last meal. You can almost always find a connection. Oh and never eat while in motion like on the train, in a car, in the middle of a conversation or walking. Have a seat. Clear a space. Calm your mind. Center. Make food holy and say grace. If you let it, food can be your medicine. Become an alchemist. Remember that in times of intensity, nothing is as it seems. You have all you need in every moment. So transform lead into gold, hate into love, poison into purity. Give it away. Not the stuff you need. Not your extras. But the good stuff – your favorites. This will teach you that love isn’t in things but in people. Meditate. Not to become enlightened but to become sane. This is one of the most basic ways to harmonize body to breath, head to heart. Find a meditation instructor in your town or attend a dharma talk or listen to a podcast or go on a retreat. Try it on your own and with others. And when you do it all wrong and fall asleep and wake up from your own snoring to thoughts confirming you have no idea what you’re doing, come back to the breath. It’s called practice for a reason. Lighten up. Will it matter in five years? If not, let it go. If so, revel in the moment. This is a crossroads. Lucky you. Accept your family. They don’t need to change. You do. Stretch daily. Why wait for the plague to hit? Or your big toe to fall off? Or the ripe old age 30? Last time I checked prevention was still the best cure. If you don’t move it, you’ll lose it. Create art. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or a hobbyist, whether there’s an audience or its private. Making something from nothing will make you a better person. You’ll learn to distinguish your voice. And in the process find confidence in expression. Notice when you go to the party and pee on the parade. Christmas. Valentine’s. Birthdays. Any excuse to celebrate love, or give a kind word should ALWAYS be taken. Clean out your junk drawer. Organizing your space is more than just about efficiency. When you toss what does not belong you clear the cobwebs of the mind. It really is all connected. Exercise. Take a class. Find a workout buddy. Sign up to for personal training. Enroll in a swim class. Try boot camp. You’re not dying. You just need to go to the gym. But we all have an expiration date – so what are you waiting for? You’ll feel infinitely better. Go to sleep at a reasonable time. We are meant to rise and fall with the sun and moon. When you go against that natural cycle, you’ll feel in opposition to something greater than yourself. So pick your battles. Turn off your computer and phone. Dim the lights. Shut the TV off. Avoid heated conversations in the evening and late night meetings. Don’t just wait till you can’t keep your eyes open any longer. Learn how to lull yourself into rest. When confusion arises, look for the symbol. This means that you don’t just take stock of the hard facts but look for the larger picture. This is big mind. Big mind always looks for the teaching in the exchange. It’s never this or that, right or wrong, you versus me. Look. Then look again. Draw closer to your fears. How does it arise in you? When does it happen? What does it look like? If you can learn to distinguish your own fear mind then all of life becomes a teacher. You don’t have to know everything. Let it dawn on you. Or not. Not every problem has to be solved. Give in. You deserve to feel the power of surrender. Deal with unfinished business. Some say this is the root of all stress. Forgive the people who hurt you most. There’s an old saying; anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Resentment just isn’t practical. Trust me on this one. Write it down or tell a hundred people or find a therapist or create a one-person show or volunteer. Forgiveness may take some effort at first but when you’re ready, I’ll bet it’ll flow. Drink tea. It’s a humble way to taste simplicity. Get bodywork once a month. It’s an unpretentious practice to feel into your own basic goodness. Take responsibility. If at any point, you don’t like the picture, by all means – change it. Notice when you complain. I’m pretty sure nobody is listening and if they are I’m almost certain they don’t care. Instead, elevate the situation. If you cannot unite thought, speech, and action you will always be at war. Spirituality doesn’t live in books, in far off exotic places, in mantra, scriptures, or downward dog. Spirit is a sensual exchange. Be broken and whole, lost and found. Dare to be pierced by life. Cultivate sacred outlook. If you view the world with curiosity then every living thing is a friend. Sacred outlook means all situations, people, and emotions are workable. It’s like wearing contact lenses 24/7 that remind you life is good. Sacred outlook is a kind of irresponsible love that doesn’t play by the rules. It’s a drug that lifts us and connects us and reminds us that we are part of something great. We are never alone. Even when we feel truly alone, even then, we’re still not alone — we are always in dialogue. Now, sometimes we don’t want to talk — so we shut down. That’s certainly a choice. You always have the right to remain silent or to call it quits, hang up your ‘do not enter’ sign, pull down the shades with your bowl of cereal and watch cartoons. But it’s not the only choice. You could choose something else that didn’t feel so isolating and final. You could look for what is working, who does listen, where you are understood. For me when I get twisted in this way, I usually turn to the Earth or the Sky to find that basic goodness once again, to feel safe, to return to my truth — that I am love and that this is love. And then I remember the view — the single most important thing I’ve learned on my path — the sacred outlook — that all people, all things, all experience are good — not good as opposed to bad but good as in absolutely workable. This is sacred. Like a sleeping child. Like freshly picked fruit. Like a really good cup of coffee. Like graffiti. Like compost. Like a fight. Like washing your face and taking a bath and combing your hair. Like finishing the work and beginning the day and boredom. Sacred means no change required. It means that we see the symbol in the ordinary. And the only reasonable response is to bow to its exquisite perfection — as it is.