With all that is going on these days regarding coronavirus, it is easy to lose your reason for being and get caught up in the helix of panic. I learned long ago about the power of ritual in my daily life, and how rituals, or daily acts of faith, tended to bring me back to my path and remind me of my whys as well as empower me to make changes when necessary, too.
Daily acts of faith not only reinvest us in our lives, but often bring out better versions of ourselves and remind us that we shape our futures, even when the world around us is in flux.
My daily acts of faith developed over time. First there was writing, which I discovered when I was introduced to journal writing and daily reading in the fifth grade. Reading enabled me to live other lives, to explore new paths and backgrounds, and it sparked my own imagination, inspiring me to create stories of my own. There were mysteries which I structured along the lines of Nancy Drew books, and poems and then sketches of people who became characters in stories that I later wrote.
For a long time, writing and reading were my raisons d’être, until my first year in graduate school, when I started to run – first on a treadmill, then later up and down Third Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, then around the 6.2 mile loop in Central Park, and later through the cities and countries that I visited: Paris, Biarritz, Puerto Rico, Greece, Italy, Spain, London.
Running taught me about freedom in the physical form and how taking flight liberated my mind, which never seemed to turn off, and how sweating embedded me in the world around me in a way that I had never experienced. I learned early on into my cardio journey that my life made more sense to me once I sweat. Still, now, when I do not run or partake in other forms of cardio exercise, I feel like a lesser, blander version of myself.
A few years later came yoga, which taught me to breathe, flow, meditate, and move through challenges versus avoiding them. It taught me about grace and gratitude and how to maintain my peace even when the world around me was spinning.
My daily rituals enabled me to grow into myself. Writing satisfied the thinker in me, the self that seeks clarity, that loves to convert thoughts and ideas into words; the self that thinks life is better when you can move away from saying things like, it’s complicated, to this is what I think, this is what I feel, this is what I see.
Running spoke to the explorer in me who liked to take it all in – the trails and city streets and nature – before the rest of the world awoke each morning. Running enabled me to sight see and to look inwardly, too. It taught me how to keep moving forward even on days I wanted to stop.
Yoga was a gift unlike others: it taught me how to be harmonious amid my own turmoil, and how to breathe through the struggles I faced. It educated me about a new kind of strength: one that was rooted deep within me and helped me to be and do and say and act my best, daily.
Together, running, reading, writing, and yoga comprise my daily acts of faith. They continually ground me in the world and remind me of how amazing it is to be here, now, among the people in my life, and to venture out to the world each day and learn and grow.
There are other rituals that impact my days as well: I aim to walk down different streets daily and actively seek to change my route to and from destinations so that I am always experiencing something new. I visit my mother’s grave as often as possible – when I lived in Florida, that meant weekly, and now, living away from Florida, I visit her grave once or twice a month. I learned long ago that cemeteries are for the living, versus the deceased, in that they provide us with a physical place to pay our respects to our lost loved ones. I speak with my dad on the phone daily – because I can and because I want to know about his life and share tidbits of my own.
My daily acts of faith serve as promises in my life. They are bookmarks for me to return to. Each one of them enriches my days and my life in some respect, and when and if one stops serving me, then I will let it go.
Whether it is daily prayer or daily visits to the gym, time spent volunteering at homeless shelters, or reading to your children, daily acts of faith are the rituals we commit to because they enhance our lives in some way that matters to us. If you have lost one or more of your daily rituals amid the fear and anxiety around us, it is never too late to find your way back.
Start scheduling those things that matter to you into your life. Make time for whatever fuels your fire: prayer, family, healthy eating, exercise, self-expression. In the end, your daily acts of faith are your guide to keep you moving along the path of your life, regardless of the commotion around you.