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Ritual, Pause, Reflect.

Today, I offer you an “Invitation”. I invite you NOT to avoid your thoughts, shutdown your emotions or forget your body; rather I’m offering you 3 moments to “lean” into your feelings and learn to take a moment to calibrate your body, mind, emotions, and ultimately your spirit.

Morning Ritual

Did you say ritual… I know it sounds intense. A ritual is not meant to scare you, I promise. We often think of ritual as belonging to the realm of religion, but in fact, rituals are apart of nature and our daily life… Think coffee; sleep, meals, walks. A well-designed and executed ritual is more than a theatrical demonstration. Rather I want to demystify these expressions with a brief check-in to start your morning.

Key points for your morning ritual

· Make it physical. A carved out space, and chair to think in, or you can go as far as an elaborate altar or place you designate to focus. This could be as simple as lighting a candle and bring attention to your thoughts as you close your eyes and sit. It is a slice out of a small space in your home to create a place to be present with yourself.

· Slow down. Start to breathe and do an intentional check in. Ask yourself 3 questions. Where are my thoughts right now? How are my emotions? What is my body telling me? For example, I feel aches in my back. Maybe it’s important to listen to that before you start the day. IT CAN BE THAT SIMPLE.

· Bring intention. After you scan your body, mind and emotions. Settle into your intention for the day. This can be a word of inspiration, a reminder of strength or a simple internal voice of courage to meet your day.

· Find grounding. After you have spent the time in morning ritual find grounding as you pivot towards your day. This can take many forms. I invite you to explore what feels right to you. Do you find grounding in cold water on your face? Is it more comfortable to stretch and feel your body wake up with movement? The importance of grounding is making it your own. I personally love ice-cold water and will take cold showers to wake up and ground into my body. What is your grounding?

This morning ritual is designed to be no more than 30 minutes and no less than 5 minutes. I find it a great way to be awake to my day, my life and my purpose. One of the many effects of ritual is to deepen our experience to our lives and to honor our human existence. Morning ritual is preparing us to be present to your day.

Afternoon Pause

The day continues on and on and it’s without question you are in the midst of it all. Before you know it’s two o’clock.

Ryan, you want me to stop what I am doing to do some hippie, new-age meditation in the middle of my day? NO, please no.

The idea behind the afternoon pause is simple, just a pause during your day. This can be one time in the middle of the afternoon or up to a few times throughout your day. The invitation is to recalibrate and check in to see how things are going for you.

The motive of an afternoon pause

· Gain perspective of the day and how you relate to everything going on.

· Learn to be present and mindful.

· Explore the day with more intention.

How to take an afternoon pause

· Take 1 to 5 minutes to exercise a pause in your day.

· Use your five senses (Taste, Touch, Sight, Sound, Feeling). For example, explore mindful eating, slow down and taste your food. Stop what you are doing and close your eyes and scan your body – Bring your focus to a specific body part; such as, 100 % awareness to your belly. Do you feel it?

· Make sure to shut down any technology stimulation for 5 minutes. With many of us working from home now, take a minute and go lay down and close your eyes… Not with the intention to sleep, but to quiet the mind. Focus on silencing your thoughts and give space to recalibrate from all the noise, movement, and things you have to do.

The practice of the afternoon pause will create calm. I recommend pushing the pause button at least 3 times a day.

Evening Reflection

It comes in the form of a bath; shower, checking with grounding into your bed or with a warm tea. Reflecting is the act of bending back and looking into. I offer a continuation to silence the mind, body and emotional heart rather than just turning the off button with dissociating into binging television, alcohol, or drugs.

The evening reflection is to continue the exercise of being present and gentle with you.

Four A’s of reflecting

· Acknowledge your day. All you’re grateful for, what you’re proud of and what you’re looking forward too.

· Awareness into what you learned today or what you taught.

· Accept – Can you accept how you showed up today? Can you accept being gentle with yourself?

· (Alternative) Action – Are there any alternative actions you want to explore tomorrow? What actions do you want to continue?

The evening reflection isn’t designed to continue to get lost in your thoughts or emotions around your day; rather it’s an exercise to continue mindfulness and acceptance in being amazing and present.

Think to yourself… How often do you start your day with intention? When was the last time you paused yourself during the middle of the day? And who can’t ask for more quiet time at the end of the day?

My challenge to you is to try the Morning Ritual, Afternoon Pause, and Evening Reflection. Let me know what changes in your perspective.

Dr. Ryan Westrum is a clinical psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist that specializes in a variety of subjects ranging from hypnosis, mindfulness, sex and porn addiction, and dream interpretation; as well as, psychedelic integration therapy. He is the author of The Psychedelic Integration Handbook. Please contact him at or


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