Why creativity needs rituals

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Each morning when I write, I light a candle. I love the sound of the match flaring and the sweet, dry, acrid smell after the match is extinguished. Breathing deeply, I attempt to draw the scent and sight of the flame flickering into my chest, into my soul.

Rituals are an important part of creating a safe haven. When we were children, perhaps we had a bedtime ritual: bath, book, prayers or song before lights were turned off. In fact, children are known to thrive with some amount of structure. The same is true of the creative spirit.

Rituals in the Creative Process


In order to form a practice--any practice--a ritual must be put into place. Whether it's journaling upon waking, sketching before you walk the dog, or doing a series of warm up scales before plunging into your daily piano or singing practice, these first steps ground us. They help us to get our bearings and to transition over from "real life," into the space of creation.

Even the practice of meditation requires ritual. We must sit or lie down, close our eyes, breathe. Those days when it feels that we simply don't have time to slow, to stop, are often the days when our spirit needs this most of all.

This morning I woke with thoughts spinning. Before I got out of bed I was fretting about what had to be done and wondering how I could accomplish it all. More of a struggle today because I hadn't gotten enough sleep. Still, it's always easier for me to do than to be. And on mornings like this I'm tempted to plunge in. Start the day, cross the tasks off of the list, get a move on.

But this--coming into my writing space, lighting a candle, breathing the wonderful scent that reminds me to slow--is what I needed most this morning. Time to get my bearings. To center myself. To do the creative work that I'm meant to do.

The melee will still be there when I'm finished writing. The tasks will still be waiting for me when daylight presses against the window panes and this still, quiet darkness is gone. But this time, this ritual, grounds me and helps me to focus.

What do you do to find quiet in your day? What ritual or rituals do you use to center yourself and create space in your life for creativity?

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