We all know the montages beloved by movies and commercials that feature someone stumbling bleary-eyed out of bed, almost falling into the shower, getting dressed half asleep and then acting like a zombie until they finally chug down a cup of coffee. Perhaps our days begin in a similar way. After drinking coffee, the somnambulant human is transformed into an alert, energetic person who is ready to take on whatever the day has to throw at them. It is easy for all of us to fall into such routines when faced with the relentlessness of a 40+ hour average working week.
- The Three-Step Process of Ritual
- How Regular Ritual Improves Our Well-being
- Different Rituals to Try Out
- The Bottom Line
We all have habitual ways of living. In the last year of the global pandemic, we have all adapted to new routines, rhythms, and habits. These can help us feel safe and grounded, especially when negotiating fears and anxieties that come up during such uncertain times. Up to 85% of us have a daily caffeinated beverage, often regarding it as the only way to function in the workplace or home, especially when we are forced to rise earlier than our circadian rhythms would prefer.
Having a cup of coffee every day is usually a habit or part of our routine, not a ritual. The difference between habit and routine is that habits tend to be almost unconscious or addictive. A habit is often unconscious, such as chewing your thumb or tapping your foot. A routine is a more conscious process requiring practice, intention and a certain amount of discipline to stick to it. A ritual connects you with something outside of your immediate experience, to something bigger.
The Three-Step Process of Ritual
In the Power of Ritual , author Casper ter Kuile defines a ritual as made up of three parts: intention, attention, and repetition. Using this three-step process as part of your practice is all you have to do to make your ritual distinct from a tedious routine or barely conscious habit.
Caffeinated drinks have been brewed for millennia and they often provided a key part of ceremonies and communal gatherings. They were inextricably bound to ritualized events and celebrations. Coffee drinking culture in Europe is wedded to café culture, where locals sit outside for hours, sipping espresso or cappuccino and sharing conversation on every conceivable topic. This serves as a sharp contrast to the drive-thru and coffee-to-go culture in North America.
This is where Two Bears coffee comes in. Our coffee is delivered to your door so you can use the time you might normally spend on going to get a take-out coffee in creating a regular coffee drinking ritual instead.
How Regular Ritual Improves Our Wellbeing
We all know how easy it is to have semi-conscious or completely unconscious eating and drinking habits, especially when we have busy lives with family, work and other activities. Slowing down enough to savour meals or snacks mindfully is often a luxury or privilege, but even finding a few moments every day to practice this could support you to have better digestion, leading to less gut health problems in the future. It is even recommended as a possible approach when negotiating the challenges of disordered eating, as long as it is paired with self-compassion - more on that below.
So what is mindful eating and drinking like in practice? To ritualize this process, set an intention, perhaps that your chosen beverage is going to give you energy for a long day of productive work, or the quick-fire boost that you need before working out. You might want to make it ceremonial by pouring the drink into your favourite mug, lighting a candle, or sitting in a sacred space that you’ve created in your home.
Check in with yourself, maybe you’re hungry too. If you are, grab a snack. Find something you feel will pair perfectly with your beverage of choice. Some squares of magnesium-rich dark chocolate, protein-filled nuts, or a delicious pastry could be great to snack on. Tune in to yourself and feel what your body is asking for. Intuitive eating, like mindful eating, is a new concept to many of us and often requires undoing many of the psychologically harmful narratives in our heads that tell us what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food. Having a daily ritual where you actively practice compassion for yourself while enjoying a favourite drink and snack can help challenge those destructive internal stories.
So, you’ve set yourself up with your intention, your Two Bears drink, snack, and location. Now you can take some deep breaths, bringing your attention to your breathing, observing how your physical body feels and how busy or quiet your mind is. Enjoy the drink’s aroma and remind yourself of the intention you are holding while you have your first sips.
Take some slow, mindful bites of your snack and feel your breath slow down and your heart rate calm. Consider the power of caffeine to positively influence the course of your day. If you are having an oat milk beverage, take a moment to appreciate that by drinking something plant based, you are doing something good for the environment. Allow yourself the space to enjoy what you are drinking and know that what you put in your body deserves your attention, reverence and appreciation.
Now repeat the ritual of your choosing a few times a week or month and see if it has any kind of positive affect on your emotional and physical well-being.
Different Rituals to Try Out
Wildlife and Birdwatching
Perhaps where you live or work has an outside area or a big window opening out to some green space. Sitting at our screens for hours at a time can be damaging to our physical and mental health, so making your coffee ritual part of your time outside can only be a positive thing. Why not give wildlife watching a try? Of course, this might not be possible for everyone, but many of us have some sort of natural environment that we can get into at home or from work.
Observing wildlife and birds in particular is an excellent way to get us to slow down our busy minds and help us focus on the environment around us. In her novel How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Jenny Odell talks a lot about the therapeutic experience of watching birds while eating a burrito. In this interview, Odell talks about how meditative she finds seeing different birds at a certain time and place, pushing her to reflect on the here and now. Being in nature regularly can reduce stress and increase our happiness and sense of well-being.
Ritualized Coffee with Loved Ones
We are social creatures, and connecting with our fellow humans is important, even if it is as simple as having a cup of coffee with a friend over video chat.
So this shared ritual with a loved one or several might involve mindful drinking and eating as we previously discussed. Or, it might be a ritual around gratitude. Gratitude is well known for its antidepressant properties: getting together with a friend in person or on a video call while you share things for which you’re grateful is a powerful use of time.
The Bottom Line
Ritual differs from habits and routines by having a purpose external to just the experience itself. Rituals need only a three-step process to make them meaningful: intention, attention and repetition. Enjoying your Two Bears beverage as part of an intentional ritual, whether it’s birdwatching, mindful drinking and eating, or having a shared gratitude, means you can easily incorporate frequent rituals into your everyday life. See it as a science experiment, document what rituals work and don’t work for you and why. Let us know in the comments if you decide to introduce a regular beverage ritual into your life and if it makes you feel any different, we’d love to hear from you!