Little Rituals: How to Move Your Body

In case you want to listen:

I have not always been a runner. In fact, for many years I was so ill I couldn’t walk up the stairs in my own home. But last spring I decided to try. To do a little experiment and see how far my health had improved. To look midlife in the eye and say, “Oh yeah? Well, it’s hardly over, is it?”

So every morning, I step out of Morning Cuddle and into my running tights. Here’s the kicker. It’s a full 90 minutes before I get to run.

First I have to make breakfast
and pack lunches.
Shoot the dog with his insulin.
Find missing water bottles.
Sign last minute permission slips.

But after all that, there’s me, and Ira, and 3 miles along the shipping canal.
How do I keep my determination during for those busy 90 minutes of potential distraction? Why don’t I end in defeat?

Because the ritual doesn’t start when I push off into a run.
The ritual starts when I put on my running tights.

Rituals create sacred space for sacred work. The work of your life. The work of your every day. (Or the sacred play of your life, or the practice, or whatever word is right-fit for y.o.u.)  Every ritual has an opening salvo – an action that rings the bell, and says, “You’ve stepped into sacred space. We’re starting. It’s begun.”

When it comes to my #littleritual around daily movement, the opening salvo is not pushing off into the run. Rather, it’s making the decision to put on my running tights. I learned this from choreographer Twyla Tharp in her book The Creative Habit. Twyla is getting on in years now, and she is still a FORCE! Last year when she premiered a new work at the Pacific Northwest Ballet her pre-show talk included rolling on the floor, barking at the interviewer, and keeping up with a dozen dancers who had to be at least 40 years younger than she was. She can do this because she has a ritual of movement.

Every day Twyla wakes up, hails a cab, and goes to the gym to train. What does she say begins her daily ritual? Not the first leg on the barre, or the first barbell in her hand. No, her ritual of movement begins when she raises her hand to hail the cab. That’s her opening slavo. The symbol that says, “Something sacred this way comes. Pay attention. Don’t back out.”

Over the next few days, I want to talk  with you more about the ritual of movement and the pieces of a ritual in general — the components. But for today, I want to ask you this: What is your opening salvo?

Maybe it’s the opening salvo for your ritual of movement. Or maybe it’s the opening salvo to how you demarcate creative space, or invite the children to transition back home after school, or signal your body that it’s time to sleep at the end of the day.

You have one, my magpie friend. You surely do.  Somewhere in your daily habits there are already sacred rites. And I’m inviting you to notice them, the name them — and in doing so, to make them even more powerful.

Because spirituality doesn’t have to be onerous. It doesn’t have to be another layer to add to your already impossibly complicated life. No, a soulful life is yours for the taking. You’ve already laid the ground work – and where you haven’t you can do so with simplicity and grace.

So let’s start looking for those little rituals, shall we? Let’s start naming the parts.

Scan your day, find an opening salvo, and then come share it with us on the Facebook page. Because it’s like I always say, “There’s nowhere to go, but together.”

With Warmth (and rain soaked, runnin’ glory),

Rachelle Mee-Chapman
*your magpie girl

P.s. Seeing posts about other middle aged gal pals who have recently started running? Feeling wistful? Beth Baker at Running Evolution is empowering, encouraging, and totally understands the beginner’s mind. You can run with her in person in Seattle, or use her Couch to 5K audio program on your phone. (Tell her Rachelle sent ya!) #curatedccare #twothumbsup #buttslap

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