Rituals to Welcome the Day and Night -- By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, PhD

Each morning, no matter how groggy I might be, I step outside on my back deck, lift and spread my arms wide, and welcome the day. It's a little ritual I learned from my late friend Jerry, and it's served me well, reminding me in a very visceral way as I stand barefoot on the deck that this is a new day given to me.

Each night, I step out on the deck again in my nightgown or pajamas and lift my arms as I chant the Shema, the central prayer of Judaism. It's the last thing I do before climbing into bed. This moment reminds me that now is the time for rest and letting go. Standing outside in the summer nights, I take notice of the lightning bugs threading the humid air, and in the winter, I feel the light ting of sheet starting or the sharp chill of dropping temperatures.

These are my ways to welcome the day and night, and at the same time, remember how grateful I am for the time right now. Such rituals reinforce the important of being present, even if just for a few moments, in the swirl and speed of time. In fact, having a little morning and evening ritual is a great way hit the pause button on time as we know it and just be with whatever the moment presents.

All of us, whether we follow a specific religious or spiritual tradition or not, can find and adopt a ritual upon waking and right before going to sleep to help us cultivate greater presence and gratitude. I recommend either going outside to the same spot each night or finding a spot in your home where you return to for this ritual.

While what you do depends completely on what feels right to you, here's some ideas to consider:

  • Simply step outside and say, "thank you" or "welcome" or whatever comes to you.