Ritual: A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions.
Way of Life: The typical pattern of behavior.
My husband Sonnie and I have always shared the love of a simple life. We both have a deep need to be outside most of the time. We have lived in and out of vans and duffel bags since we met 14 years ago—we even planned our wedding out of a Ford Econoline.
Before our two children were in school, we dreamt of taking them on the road with us for a year. We worked towards this, saved, created a fluid working environment, and rented out our place in order to see the dream come to life. Our dream came from some simple intentions:
to be outside more, to foster a love of nature in our little ones, to bond as a family, to explore new rock climbing areas, and to learn to live with less stuff.
We are over 365 days on the move now.
Practicing on the Road
In order for me to keep up my yoga practice on the road, it has been useful for me to move away from yoga as my ritual
to yoga as my way of life. This doesn't mean that I don't practice or meditate, because over the year I've hardly missed a day, it just means it looks slightly differently. If I need to find a quiet, peaceful, mess-free space, my practice simply doesn't happen. If I'm attached to making my practice an hour long, or making it happen at the same time every day, I'm almost always disappointed. My practice often happens with mess and sleeping children around me at 9 p.m. I often sit for a two-minute meditation.
Sometimes there is a kid on me or food and hair remnants on my mat, which is often laid out in a very tiny space.
Instead of all the preparations I used to do—cleansing practices, hot showers, coffee, incense, long meditations, pilgrimages, even proper yoga attire—I boil it down to three simple steps.
- Exhale and let go.
- Feel my feet and get grounded.
Yes, this could happen throughout the day and become a practice within itself. Usually, however, it leads to moving my body with my breath and letting the process make me aware of myself. I have some set sequences that I can lean into if I’m feeling ungrounded or going through a transition. I'll use my community of resources on Yoga Anytime
if I have Wi-Fi. If my nervous system is very relaxed, I will usually follow the guidance of how I love to practice and balance that out with playing with things that I find challenging or irritating. I’ll make a point of working with obstacles in the middle of my practice. It’s a bit of a shit sandwich situation.
I will then sit or breathe for a bit and If I'm not interrupted by children, I'll lie down and become the most relaxed version of myself and hope it sticks. If I get interrupted or cut short, I'll make a point of finishing where I left off later. It's always a good gauge to see if my practice is working when I observe my level of frustration when this happens.
"I believe in nothing, everything is sacred. I believe in everything, nothing is sacred." - Tom Robbins
Rituals on the Road
I live for celebrating the ordinary, making things sacred and special, and that feeling of devotion and love carrying me home. Even more than that, I get so much out of practicing in this way with others and the sense of community that it can bring.
Here are some little rituals I sprinkle into my family life that may help you as well.
- I hold hands with my family and give thanks before eating.
- I look my children in the eyes and say I love you (insert name) every morning when I see them for the first time.
- I emphasize listening when we are outside. We close our eyes and name the tracks of sound we hear.
- After we talk about our day at bedtime, I sing.
- If we are up-regulated in our nervous systems, we try to breathe deep and talk about where we feel it in our bodies. (OK we don't always do this but we're REALLY working on it.)
I love ritual so much that I created a life around certain ceremonies. The thing is that I put so much time into playing certain rituals out, and I can't really do that anymore. I also think that I made some things in my life too pure, and other things less-than. For example, there seemed to be a split between my yoga life and my street life. The latter never being good enough in comparison. The unfortunate downside to this was that it led me to be more judgmental of myself and others. A fortunate twist was after I had kids, I had a massive shift in carrying around expectations about anything and a simultaneous new wonder for the practical magic of simply being alive.
Why, might you ask, do I put so much effort into practice? Because getting into my actual NOW experience has a grounding effect that can last up to 24 hours and makes the events of my life flow with more ease and joy. There are also no side effects.
When ritual is freed from expectation, it’s easily woven into the fabric of life, becoming a way in which to live. When I look at the definitions of ritual and way of life, I see their interconnectedness. So in the end I guess I’ve only left to come back again with a fresh perspective.