Shortly after my college graduation, I secured an interview with a tech giant company that boasts millions of users worldwide. Naturally, I was bathed with enthusiasm and fed with jubilation. Let's fast forward to interview day. Mid-conversation, the interviewer looked at me in a piercing manner and then followed with the statement, “You seem spiritual.” Three simple words yet I felt my face tighten and eyes communicate a vacuum of defense. Upon observing further, she added, “I did not say religious, I said spiritual.” Why her follow-up statement led me to feel at ease still baffles me. I did not get the job.
Almost a year after the interview I encountered the book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. In this book, author Sharma points out that books do not teach us anything new; it shows us what is within. Knowing that awareness does not mean action, I set out to further explore the essence of attaining spiritual growth through solitude. One of the many powerful realizations during my journey was/is realizing spiritual solitude is a high component of self-evolution. Inspired and elevated, this article works to outline ten rituals from the book and uncover how these rituals can encourage New Yorkers to also embrace spiritual growth as a path towards self-discovery.
The Ritual of Solitude – This ritual teaches us to ensure that our daily schedule includes a mandatory period of peace.
My colleague at work recently shared with me a video that paints a very polished picture about how our current generation is effervescently hooked to phones, apps, and social media (Brain Hacking). The attention of most of us is imprisoned by our technological devices and thus cleverly prevents us from getting in tune with our souls, even during meditative practices such as yoga and hiking. Understanding the importance of clearing our minds, letting go of responsibilities, and taking the time to rejuvenate provides clarity and shapes the paths we desire to pave.
The Ritual of Physicality –This ritual teaches us to care for our bodies in order to prepare our minds and to train our bodies in order to train our minds.
When our lives become hectic, the one thing most of us fail to monitor is our well being. As a result, we either limit or eliminate our engagement in cardiovascular activities. We also tend to consume unhealthy meals. Caring for our physical appearance boosts our confidence and propels us to be fearless in our daily undertakings. The moment you use busyness as an excuse to take care of yourself, you are essentially saying, “I am not a priority in order to shift something else in my life.” The more we attribute time to improving our physicality, the better we live and embrace a strong dynamic existence.
The Ritual of Live Nourishment – This ritual teaches us that a poor diet has a pronounced effect on our lives because it drains our mental and physical energy. It affects our moods and it hampers the clarity of our minds.
When living in an urgency-driven environment such as New York City (NYC), it’s quite simple to revert to unhealthy foods especially due to the dramatic availability of fast-food restaurants on most street corners. The blessing and curse about living in NYC are almost everything is at a convenience. An approach that works for groups who abide by this ritual is cultivating the discipline to stray away from eating alone. By surrounding themselves with others who share similar health goals, their choice of consumption automatically aligns with their nutritional goals.
The Ritual of Abundant Knowledge – This ritual centers on the whole notion of lifelong learning and expanding your knowledge base for the good of yourself and all those around you.
Take a walk to Central Park, sit, and observe. People tell you who they are. And the more you interact with others, the sharper you become at identifying what people value. Just as we get power by empowering others, we attain knowledge by openly sharing our knowledge with others. According to studies, the most frequently reported number of books people read a year is 4. Let’s do the math. By reading one book a month, you are 8 books ahead of discovering what is written within yourself. This realization puts you in the position to utilize your light for the betterment of others.
The Ritual of Personal Reflection – This ritual teaches us the power of inner contemplation. By taking the time to get to know yourself, you will connect to a dimension of your being that you never knew you had.
Daily reflection is one of the many gifts most of us overlook because we spend every single moment of our days trying to survive. Reflecting is powerful because it rather teaches us how to thrive. It also encourages us to properly analyze our actions in order to better comprehend the impact we can have on others. Reflecting consistently for 21 days actually becomes a super power. You become more conscious of your approach to others, you display greater empathy and become more susceptible to providing value.
The Ritual of Early Awakening – This ritual teaches us to rise with the sun and to start the day off well.
When reading articles featuring some of the world’s most influential people, a consistent theme is their ability and willingness to rise with the sun. New York is popularized as the city that never sleeps, however; most of us have somehow blended our definition of sleep and rest into one melting pot. The trick to waking up early is discovering the balance between quality rest and quality sleep. Quality rest leads one to get by on 6 hours - and remain perfectly healthy and alert. Quality sleep leads one to beg for an additional hour or two after 6 hours of sleep. A very common excuse most people use is the number of responsibilities on their plates. In Cal Newport’s book – Deep Work – he does an excellent job highlighting the best approach to increasing productivity in short periods of time. By adopting Deep Work as a life-work strategy, more time can then be carved for other important things such as rest.
The Ritual of Music – This ritual teaches us to spend a little time with music every day, even if it is listening to a soft piece during your commute to work.
Time and time again, I realize those I admire most always start their day with songs of positivity, hope, and joy. By infusing our brains with these kinds of songs, it actually helps dictate the outcome of our day. Despite my strong liking for music, I tend to revert to podcasts during the day. Podcasts do not only entertain, they foster both personal and professional growth. And in order to thrive in our fast-paced city, growth is not an option – it’s a dire necessity. My favorite podcasts include Behind the Brilliance, How I Built This, and Master's of Scale.
The Ritual of the Spoken Word - This ritual teaches us to have a mantra to recite every morning, noon, and night. This will be effective in keeping you focused, strong, and happy.
As a lover of spoken word poetry, I strongly believe the words we choose to say to ourselves can either uplift us or damage us. That’s the simplest it gets. A well-accomplished friend excels at this ritual by placing post-it notes on her dressing mirror and on the lock-screen of her cell-phone. This reminds her to evangelize positive words upon her life. The results - as I've observed - have been immensely powerful and effective. Over time, these affirmations are ingrained into your mind and without being fully aware, you too will attract them into your life.
The Ritual of a Congruent Character – This ritual teaches us to take daily, incremental actions to build character.
The daily actions we take come together to form our habits. This is important because our daily habits lead us on the path of co-creating or fulfilling our destiny. In one of my articles – 22 Lessons before 23 – I highlighted in Lesson 11 that building character is analogous to shoveling snow. The longer you wait, the harder it is to accomplish the task. To form the habit of practicing daily incremental steps, we need to do away with instant gratification and welcome consistency. Once we can shift our mindsets to realize that true growth (whether it be in the form of accomplishments or enlightenment) takes time and effort, our character begins to strengthen.
The Ritual of Simplicity – This ritual teaches us to live a simple life. You must never live in the thick of the thin things.
Eliminating the thin things in life takes commitment, it takes discipline, and it takes support from your surroundings. Living in the thick of the thin things sees us saying yes to the things that deplete us and no to the things that enrich us. However, as we focus solely on our priorities, the activities we indulge in truly become meaningful. Focus in fact is progress. And with our own progress, we learn to stop needing to be available to everyone all the time. Lifelong happiness does not come through striving to realize your dreams, rather when we are moving forward and embracing simplicity.
Every point has a counterargument. So some may ask, “What if we choose not to live radiantly?” Well, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with such approach. However, do remember that living a life of extravagance comes with its consequences. Our needs continue to grow by the day and until we learn to reduce them and focus on catering to the needs of others, we will just never be fulfilled. As Tyler Durden said, “After a while, the things you own end up owning you." Changing a pattern that has been ingrained into our lives for years is not simple. The trick to accomplishing this is to refrain from focusing on the pattern. Rather, it's imperative to adopt enriching practices as a replacement whenever we crave the habit. Eventually, the old, unhealthy pattern shall disappear. That is one of the many secrets to thriving.