The Power of Ritual

Written by Braiden on January 13, 2011

Make a pot of tea as a ritual in your day

An article about the importance of rituals in the work day really captured my attention and gave me pause for thought.

Written for the Harvard Business Review by Peter Bregman, the article recounts Bregman’s thoughts when watching “The Last Samurai” for the second time.

He says, “But this time, I was most moved by a scene I don’t even remember seeing the first time: a samurai drinking tea.

“Sitting at a low table, he moved deliberately, singularly focused on his tea. He contemplated it. Then poured it. Then sipped it, tasted it, and, finally, swallowed it.

“This, I realized, was the source of the samurai’s strength.

“His acrobatics were impressive, but they were merely a demonstration of his strength. The source was this tea ritual and many other rituals like it. His power as a warrior came from his patience, precision, attention to subtlety, concentration, and his reverence for the moment.

“The power of ritual is profound and under-appreciated. Mostly, I think, it’s because we live in a time-starved culture, and ritual is time-indulgent. Who can afford the luxury of doing one thing at a time? Who has the patience to pause and honor an activity before and after we do it?”

It’s easy to incorporate ritual into your daily work life, Bregman says. Nobody even needs to know about it!

“Sit at your desk in the morning, pause before booting up your computer, and mark the moment,” he suggests. “Do this by taking a deep breath. Or by arranging your pens. Whatever it is, do it with the intention of creating respect for what you’re about to begin. Do the same before you make a phone call. Or receive one. Or before you meet with a colleague or customer.

“Each time we pause, notice, and offer respect for an activity, it reminds us to appreciate and focus on what we’re about to do. And by elevating each activity, we’ll take it more seriously. We’ll get more pleasure from it. The people with whom we work will feel more respected. And we’ll feel more self-respect.”

Do you take the time to pause, notice, and offer respect for each activity you do? For each person you meet? Do you honor and appreciate your own thoughts?

If not, today would be the perfect time to start.

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