create your ritual
presence practices

Create Everyday Rituals That Will Lift Your Day

Your morning schedule for getting the kids off to school, lunch-breaks at your regular spot, an afternoon walk, journaling at night.

Activities like these are the bread and butter of being alive. We all have routines and schedules that help us move through our days, they give us a sense of grounded-ness and provide a rhythm that helps us keep track of where we are.

As helpful as these routines are to us, there is a way we can make them even more powerful and supportive. That way is to create rituals out of routines.

Rituals are one of the oldest and most powerful tools we have for creating meaning. There are two defining components of a ritual: there is an action that is being ‘ritualized’ and there is a sense of presence, or awareness, built into that activity.

For example, if you have a cup of coffee each morning, making a ritual of that routine would serve to direct your awareness more fully into that act. (More on how to do that later).

How Rituals Can Help You

Rituals can help you feel more connected to yourself, and others.

Because there is usually some sort of action involved, rituals encourage you to be physically present and aware, which helps you to be even more receptive to the meaning behind our ritual.

Rituals inspire you to appreciate what’s important in your life.

Rituals induce a sense of wonder, even through the smallest, most ordinary acts.

Before We Start

A few things:

Rituals don’t have to make sense to anybody but you

They can be playful, celebratory, small, bouncy, silent, wild, simple, flamboyant.

It’s your ritual, so it’s up to you how you run it.

Rituals are alive

They shift and develop, just like you, and over time your relationship to them will change. If you find that your ritual has become stale and less meaningful over time, it’s a sign that you need to re-enliven it and make it relevant to your daily life again.

Repetition, Repetition, Repeatedly

It can be useful to perform your ritual at regular intervals. Repetition creates rhythm. Rhythm creates a sense of comfort and safety. Once that rhythm is built up, your ritual can become a vibrant container for power and meaning.

Did you Get That Down?

As you go, record what happens to you as a result of doing your rituals. Over time you will notice some amazing things. It can be the small things that really make a big difference.

How To Create A Ritual

Set out below are a few simple ideas to help you to come up with your own rituals. You can think about them and get a feel for how they might work for you when you are designing your own rituals.

When you are ready to put together your own customized ritual, pick the ones that resonate for you and use them as building blocks.

Setting An Intention:

Rituals can help you to focus on a particular qualities you would like to bring into your life, or changes you would like to make.

What is something that you would like to focus on right now?

It could be a habit that you would like to begin, a quality (like courage or kindness) that you would like to bring into your life, maybe something you’d like to celebrate or remember. Once you have that thing you want to focus on, the next step is to write your intention.

What you would like to see change in your relation to that aspect of your life.

Once you have the thing you would like to focus on, the next step is to choose the change that you intend to bring about.

For example, if you picked kindness as something you would like to develop in yourself, the change could be broad: I want to become kinder. Or more specific: I want to be kinder to myself.

Setting an intention like this infuses it into our ritual and helps us to remember the bigger picture. It also encourages us to be more present and aware as we do the activity.


We’ve looked at the importance of rhythm, and choosing an appropriate time for your ritual is one way you can build that sense of rhythm in.

It’s useful to think about how often you want to do this ritual. Is it a daily thing? More than daily? Maybe it’s a ritual that wants to take place on a weekly basis, like a Sunday meal. Weekly, daily, hourly, however you space your rituals out, it’s going to build that sense of rhythm and repetition, like a pulse moving through your days.

It’s important that the timing of a ritual is suited to your own needs, and to your own mood or energy as well.

For example, early morning is a wonderful time to set up a meditation practice, but I’ve always had trouble maintaining that as a practice. I do my meditation in the evenings, and I find I’m more alert and dropped in then I am when I meditate in the mornings.


Paying attention to the space you will be performing your ritual in can make them even more powerful.

A useful first step is to select a quiet and private space to conduct your ritual in peace.

You can include and honor your physical self by selecting beautiful and meaningful objects that wake your senses up, like: candles, scented oils, flower arrangements, foods, water, tea, inspirational photos/figures, tactile objects stones/beads sounds-music, nature space with sounds.

You could think of this space as an altar, or simply a private sanctuary just for your use.

Having a dedicated space to return to can add a sense of power to your ritual.

Dedicating a space is a form of intention setting in itself, it’s a declaration that you’ll perform your rituals over time and that you’ll honor our rituals by giving them a home.

Having a place to regularly perform your rituals means the space will eventually start to change: churches, meditation halls, yoga studios all absorb the energy of the rituals and practices that take place in them, and you can often feel a power in these places that helps you  settle in and prepare.

Embodying An Action

A key element in most rituals is that they incorporate some sort of physical action.

The action of a ritual often serves as a metaphor and provides some sort of support as you move towards your intention. Performing the ritual helps to anchor the meaning as you act out the process of being transformed through the ritual. You get to include your whole self through this process.

What actions can you include in your ritual to ground it in your body, in your own life?

A nice place to start is by choosing actions you already do each day: making a cup of coffee in the morning; bathing; regular tasks; unwinding activities.

I love this post by Dana at Alchemist Eating (it inspired me to work on this post) where she talks about a brief ritual she and her partner share at their evening meal. It’s beautiful, simple, and tailored to them and their relationship. It’s a great example of using an everyday action as the starting point for a meaningful ritual.


It’s important to have a sense of closing the ritual. You’ve created a space where you get in touch with the intuitive and soulful aspects of your being, and it’s important to build a sense of completion before you return to your everyday activities.

Some ways you could do this:

Perform a simple, closing activity while noting that the ritual is over and you are moving onto the next thing.

Being attentive as you extinguish the candle, leave the room, stand up, close your journal–whatever your closing activity is, be in a mindful state and note to yourself:

“This ritual is complete, I am now heading into the next part of my day.”

Over To You

Do you have any important rituals in your life? Something that you’ve put together yourself, or rituals from a group you’re a part of? What makes them special and meaningful for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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  • Reply Natasha Botkin April 21, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    Really liking the manner which brought everyone into a present moment with your wise words. As a mom of two now grown autistic boys, rituals were a necessary rhyhtm to their needs.

    • Reply Dave Rowley April 22, 2016 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Natasha,
      It’s so great that you were able to establish some rituals and create a sense of rhythm for your sons. I bet it was a great help. The idea of rituals are wired in for us, I think, and we instinctively know how to implement them in our lives. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Reply Beverley Golden April 22, 2016 at 2:26 am

    As someone who has finally learned the importance of rhythms in my life, I love this idea of adding a ritual to those rhythms. As I was reading this, I was imagining some possible rituals I could add to my life and might have to digest this a little bit longer to come up with some. I do light candles in my family room and find that relaxing, but it is not consistent, but more spontaneous. It’s wonderful to consider how creating a ritual brings you into a present state, which heightens the experience of the rhythm. This really resonated with me, Dave, “The action of a ritual often serves as a metaphor and provides some sort of support as you move towards your intention. Performing the ritual helps to anchor the meaning as you act out the process of being transformed through the ritual. You get to include your whole self through this process.” Love this idea of being transformed through the ritual. I’m looking forward to incorporating a new ritual into my life, as I’m always ready for continuing growth and transformation. Thanks for the food for thought.

    • Reply Dave Rowley April 22, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      Hi Beverley,
      I’m glad you found the link between rituals and rhythms to be useful. I also love that you use candles in your family room, they magically add a sense of ritual to anything! (I’m reminded by your comment that I used to light a candle when I was doing writing sessions with clients). It’ll be interesting to see what new ritual(s) you come up with.

  • Reply Reba Linker April 22, 2016 at 10:56 am

    This is such a wonderful guide to creating a ritual. I really appreciate it. You’re a terrific teacher, Dave. xo, Reba

    • Reply Dave Rowley April 22, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      Hi Reba,
      Thank you so much, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Reply Kat April 22, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I love my matcha latte making ritual every morning. I make it slowly and take my time. Once I finish my matcha latte I then begin my day. But it’s a whole lot better than just jumping in like I used to . 😀

    • Reply Dave Rowley April 22, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Hi Kat,
      That sounds like a wonderful ritual. Taking some time and caring for yourself in that way as you prepare to enter your day. Matcha latte sounds delicious btw!

  • Reply Sue Kearney (@MagnoliasWest) April 22, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Dave, I love this. Very meaningful to me, and very timely, as I’m upleveling my marketing and weaving in some of these very ideas.


    • Reply Dave Rowley May 6, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Hi Sue,
      That’s wonderful, weaving ritual into your business is such a powerful idea!

  • Reply Dana Leigh Lyons April 22, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Lovely, valuable post, as always, Dave! And what a beautiful, unexpected surprise to find a link to my post in there–so much gratitude for the share…and your writing and work. A true gift!

    Your post is so, so timely for me right now. I’ve been working with inviting more ease into other parts of my day (rather than compartmentalizing them within dinner time and yoga time). Your guidelines offer inspiration and a place to begin…

    • Reply Dave Rowley May 6, 2016 at 4:45 pm

      Hi Dana,
      I’d been thinking about your post for a while, it was a wonderful starting point to hammer out some of my own thoughts on rituals 🙂 I love that idea of inviting ease in, and it’s so important to integrate the power of rituals out into the rest of the day.

  • Reply Alicia Hensley April 23, 2016 at 3:36 am

    I love this post! I love the idea of being able to create something that works for me. There’s so much information on what to do, and how to do it. But taking tid-bits and turning it into my own ritual is a great way to become a better, more well rounded person. Thank you for the post!

    • Reply Dave Rowley May 6, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Alicia,
      I love that–‘taking tidbits’–it’s so important to start with something that is meaningful to you, even the smallest thing, well chosen, can be a starting point for a powerful ritual.

  • Reply Peter omondi April 23, 2016 at 6:32 am

    Inspiring. I never knew how to do this. I will gather myself together and adhere to work on this. Thanks.

    • Reply Dave Rowley May 6, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Peter,

      That’s great, I’m glad the post was helpful for you!

  • Reply juliet April 23, 2016 at 8:13 am

    I love rituals, and enjoyed your clear guidelines. With a group I celebrated the seasonal rituals of the year, and have done for the last 30 years. Meal times are a good time to have a simple ritual of giving thanks when I’m with my family. My granddaughter has a little song that she sings before we eat.

    • Reply Dave Rowley May 6, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Hi Juliet,
      Your group sounds beautiful! What a meaningful way to mark the passing of the seasons. I love that your granddaughter has her own little singing ritual!!

  • Reply Roslyn Tanner Evans April 23, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Timing is everything. Last night at our family seder I noticed once again that we didn’t follow the steps in the Hagaddah. My sister-in-law, whose home we always go to, said as she does yearly, I do things the way my grandparents did & my children do it the way I do it. I made a promise to myself to remember that.
    And now reading your wonderful post, I can more fully appreciate her traditions, rituals and intentions.
    I need to think about your ideas for myself. Often in too much of a hurry to get things done, so I know I would benefit from a ritual here & there.

    • Reply Dave Rowley May 6, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Hi Roslyn,
      It’s great that you have such strong rituals passed down through your family, what a gift that is! I know what you mean about timing, there is such a ‘timeless’ quality to ritual, and it’s funny that the way we structure the timing of a ritual has something to do with how we enter the timeless part.

  • Reply Paula Niziolek May 5, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    I love this post, Dave. Interestingly, when I first started reading I was thinking that I have routine’s, but not rituals, but the more I think about it, I definitely have rituals at least in a couple of my morning activities. Now to set intentions for those rituals!

    • Reply Dave Rowley May 6, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Paula,
      I love that! Routines are such a great way to build a sense of ritual, because we often build routines from things that are important to us.

  • Reply Catherine October 24, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Great how-to here, Dave. I could use a lot more presence in my routines, since my days are filled with a lot of rushing. (Having two small children, a blog, a full-time job and a household to run will do that!) But I know I could find a few minutes here or there for a calming, centering ritual.

    Thank you for the food for thought!

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