Finding meaning in chaos

There is something intoxicatingly alluring about ritual. It is as if, in our most primitive brain, on the most fundamental and fecund level, we seek meaning through mindful action. It’s so simple. Here is what it means to pray: hit pause and let everything drop away but quiet awareness.

Some spiritual teachers say that every thought is a prayer and worrying is like praying for what you don’t want. So how to stop troubling thoughts from haunting you? When the world seems like a hostile place, when the comfort of community is diverted, when up is down and a single month crawls like a year across your Acuity Scheduling app; when memoranda slide into a fugue state in your living room half-written, and warm ashes rain from the sky, there is only one thing to do: make restorative ritual.

We don’t need to talk about what a royal bummer 2020 has been. No matter how it started out, no matter where we thought we’d be by now in our very precise life strategy with alpha-numeric goals and objectives. . .none of that matters anymore. What matters now is finding meaning in the mundane. It’s about finding acceptance in the warty, in the acutely flawed, the beautiful moments that wash up daily like random starfish on our Coronaville Groundhog Day beach.

Ready to trade in faux-productivity for peace? Here are five ways to create ritual in your world if equilibrium is what you crave:

  1. Take a break from the news. Take a break from electronic devices. Take a break from the tsunami of stress hormones this year has wrought and take a bubble bath. Baths are highly underrated anti-stress rituals, especially if you add scented Epsom salts and essential oils. A sweet, swift five-minute vacay in your personal oasis practicing gratitude will change. your. life.
  2. Hydrate with herbal tea infusions. Mindfully blend a pitcher of iced tea with fragrant tea blends of white rose, turmeric, or jasmine to store in the fridge. We are 60% water. Our brains function better when we are hydrated, and we eliminate toxins from our bodies better when we’re flushed with agua. Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto proved we can change the physical structure of water with the thoughts we have about it. Imagine what making a ritual of directing feelings of peace, health, and trust can infuse into the water you lovingly serve your body!
  3. Wake in the morning and set intentions for the day before you move a muscle. Breathe deeply a few times, stay present. Greet your day with intention. Choose a word to guide the day. Decide what characteristics you want to show up with. Honor your intentions with a prayer of grace.
  4. Read the work of teachers, cultural icons, achievers, revolutionaries, rebels, rule-breakers, game-changers. Each day, insert a few pages of wisdom into your world from fellow travelers who are making sense of the cosmos they found and are creating meaning through rituals of their own.
  5. Remind someone in your circle of influence why they are glad to know you. These are weird times and we need each other more than ever. Think about why a person is important in your world then pick up the phone or send a text, and remind them that they matter. What? Making a phone call is a sacred ritual? Well, listen. It is if you make it one.

Accept the challenge: adopt one or more rituals listed above for a month. Journal about how this sacred time offers you a better way of showing up in the world. Be that person, and be an example of the value of ritual.  People will wonder if you’ve had work done, #srsly. Pinkie swear. You got this.

Cynthia Gregory is an award-winning author and executive coach specializing in transitions. She lives in California’s Sonoma Valley with her two rescue pups: Winston and Blue. For more information visit