Mindful Summer: Mindful Rituals at Home

Welcome to Mindful Summer! However hard it is to believe we are already halfway through Mindful Summer, it’s been heartwarming and inspiring to practice together in community with you. As you continue to develop your mindfulness practice, you might notice moments throughout the day where you remember to pause, check in, and take a breath.

With life, work, kids, and more vying for your attention, it’s helpful to embed mindful rituals at home and throughout the day to remind yourself to come back to the moment. I invite you to watch my talk about weaving mindful rituals into your daily life. If you’re completely new to mindfulness, you might want to check out this Introduction to Mindfulness article first.

Mindful Rituals at Home with Michelle Gale.

Setting an Intention This Week

This week, set an intention to notice places and times where you might want to incorporate mindfulness into your day, come up with an idea for a ritual, and try it out.

We’d love to hear what how this intention is unfolding for you. Tell us about your new ritual and what’s coming up.

Join the Community Discussion


Join Our Online LIVE Guided Practice on July 24th

We invite you to join Michelle and the Mindful Schools community for an online guided practice and short Q&A on Tuesday, July 24 at 4pm PST / 7pm EST. Please RSVP here for more details. Here is the recording of the sit


About Michelle

Michelle Gale is a corporate mindfulness teacher, author, and public speaker. She enjoys connecting with audiences around the country and online to explore the power of presence, living with intention, and mindful parenting. She was previously the head of learning and leadership development at Twitter and spent most of her career working in high growth startups. Michelle has written for many online publications including the Harvard Business Review and has a bestselling book titled “Mindful Parenting in a Messy World.

In addition to her board work with the Holistic Life Foundation she is currently a strategic advisor to the Mindful Schools and Wisdom 2.0 conference. Michelle received her M.A in Psychology from Meridian University and has studied and trained extensively with teachers such as Mark Coleman, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Byron Katie. Michelle is a long term practitioner of mindfulness and lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.


Transcript of Michelle’s talk:

Hi everyone, I’m happy to be spending some time with you this week. My name is Michelle Gale. I am the author of the book of Mindful Parenting in a Messy World. I have a very sweet connection to Mindful Schools in that I’ve been on their advisory committee for many years. I’m also an advisor to the Wisdom 2.0 conference and on the board of the Holistic Life Foundation. So the work that you’re doing out in the world with children, with parents, in schools, and in your communities is near and dear to my heart. Deep bow to all the work that you’re doing. This week, we’re here to talk about mindful rituals at home, and I even say at work too. Maybe you’re home for the summer, maybe you’re not. So we’ll talk a little bit about weaving it in at home with family, but really you can take this offering and use it anywhere.

Let me start by saying I know that I am speaking to the choir when I say parents and educators are really, really busy, and it can be hard and tricky to integrate mindfulness practice into our day to day lives even with the greatest intention. For me over the years, there’s been times that my practice has waned, whether it be my regular sitting practice or weaving mindfulness into my day. Usually injecting a ritual and making some new commitments to myself and putting some structure in place has been really supportive for me. So I’m excited to share that with you. The hardest part about meditation and mindfulness is remembering to do it. It’s not a hard thing to do, and it’s hard to remember. So how do we remember how to do it?

I want you to able to bring what we talk about today anywhere into your life. It is possible to implement these practices, even if it feels like there’s just no way to squeeze one more thing into your day. It is possible to weave it in into a very full, busy life. It’s not about perfection. It’s not about doing it right. It’s just about saying “yes,” making some effort, making commitment, and trying things out. I’ll share lots of ideas with you today, and maybe you’ll try one or two. Maybe you’ll come up with your own, and when something sticks, you’ll know that it’s right for you.

So we’re going to cover three things today. We’re going to talk about what a mindful ritual is, how we can come up with ideas, and then also how you can remember to do them. The big one.

So what is a mindfulness ritual?

It’s different things to different people depending on who you are. You might be a parent at home alone, a single parent with multiple kids, and that is going to look very differently from a single person at home with no children. It might be different if it’s for work or for home. There’s no definition about what a mindfulness ritual is, but I will say that it has certain quality . It’s anything that brings us a moment of pause. Even beyond the pause, it brings a moment of connection to ourselves and to those around us, whether that be our children, our family, our community. So that’s the flavor of it. This ritual is some kind of a stopping, pausing, and reflecting.

How do we come up with these ideas for these rituals?

Let me share one that came up for me when my kids were starting to leave the house without me. My oldest was maybe in fourth grade and my youngest was in first grade. We only live about three blocks from school. My older son started walking my younger son, and they were just leaving the house in the morning. Every time they left I was like, “I’m not going. You don’t need me like you’re off on your own.” So I was just having one of those mommy moments, having one of those transitions for me, particularly. They were fine. They’re like “see ya, we’re going to school.” So I came up with this idea for myself that before they left the house, I asked them if they’d be willing to just hold hands for a minute, take one breath in and out, and do a little hand squeeze. Pass this little hand squeeze around.

So there’s a little ritual for you. We all hold hands, we take a breath together, we look each other in the eyes, and we pass around hand squeeze around the table. That’s one of our rituals at the dinner table when we eat at the dinner table, which is not every night, but when we do, that’s what we do. So we did this when they left for school; we’d hold hands and pass this hand squeeze around in one breath, and then off they went for school. There was something about that that just eased this transition for me. It helped me feel more connected, particularly to them before they left. And then off they went.

So there’s an example from my life, but I think it’s helpful, and I wrote a Harvard Business Review article about this called How Busy Parents Make Time for Mindfulness. It’s practical. It’s what I’m going to share with you today. What I suggest in the article is that you write down everything that you do from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Alternatively, if you don’t want to do that, it could be that you write down the sticking points throughout the day, like what’s difficult now? It’s usually from one transition to another. Not always, but what’s difficult. So if you could do both of those things, I think that would be great. Go through your list and identify places where you can inject a moment of mindfulness. Where is that moment?

  • Is it when you’re in the shower and really just feeling the water on your skin, the hot water on your skin, and appreciating that you have access to hot water and able to get clean every day and having a moment of gratitude?
  • Is it when you’re walking to the car to go run an errand or go to work, and you really just pay attention to the steps for 10 or 20 steps or however far it is?
  • Is it when you’re eating dinner and you’ve put in the little hand squeeze around the table or some other family ritual?
  • Tea cups are great. You can feel the heat of the tea or coffee on your hands.

Just make a list of things to try out so you have your list of where you could inject it. You choose where you can inject it and then you make a list of what you’re going to try. Anywhere that you can inject a moment. If you’re doing this at home with the family, you can even have a family vote on it. You can have three or four, and you could have everybody vote and then put them in order one to four or whatever it might be and try them one at a time. Get a little buy-in that way. That’s helpful.

I also wrote down some book resources to share with you all. If you haven’t read Laurie Cameron’s book, The Mindful Day, it’s chock full of ideas. It’s wonderful. I love Susan Kaiser Greenland’s book, which many of you I’m sure know called Mindful Games. Lots of ideas of little ways you can weave that in. I love her practice of when you’re getting your kids to pay attention for a moment, even if they’re kind of sitting at the table and she says “tick tock like a clock until you reach your center,” and you just find your center. That could be something that you do when you sit down for a snack or a little ritual depending on the age of your kids. And then also Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh. I just think it’s a nice inspiration for this kind of work. So if you’re looking for a book read the summer, I thought those might be nice.

How do we remember to do this?

So we’ve got our list, and we’ve got our things we’re going to try. Now how do we remember to do this? And something I always suggest to my clients and that really works for me is a couple of things. I just worked with a woman who is executive and has two young girls who love stickers. They like sparkly stickers, so I suggested to leave those little stickers all around, like make that agreement. It can always be a little secret, you know, at home with family. So putting these stickers all around, and that means to take that breath, sit up straight, feel your feet on the floor, or whatever little moment you want to weave in.

I will often take those little notes, like little tiny stickies that you get from Staples or Office Depot, and write myself a little reminder or put a little star on it. And I’ll leave that for myself all over. I’ll leave it in my wallet when I open it, I’ll leave it in cupboards as they open, I’ll put it in my car to remind me to do whatever it is that I’d like to weave into my life as a ritual. So visualizing it is really helpful. And then of course calendar invites. I mean, I don’t know where I’m supposed to be if I don’t use my calendar, and so my calendar is a great place to remind myself. “Oh, you know, you wanted to weave this into your day.” And I think it also could be helpful to put the kids in charge of remembering. I put them in charge of remembering. Why not? Depending on their age, depending on their motivation, they love to tell us what to do, so you can put them in charge.

In Conclusion

So we talked about what a mindfulness ritual is, how we can come up with ideas for rituals, and what can help us remember to actually do the rituals. This is just a beautiful way to incorporate mindfulness into our day to day lives with little effort. Well, a little more effort in the beginning to get it going. But once we get it going, it just kind of does itself really beautifully, and they just become this reason to pause, to reflect, and to connect with ourselves and also with our families and those around us. Sometimes it can feel like we’re putting in too much structure with some of these things, but beautiful practice can happen once we give ourselves those structures.

I’m reminding you that it is possible to weave these practices into an already busy day, and I hope some of the things I shared today inspire you to come up with your own, and maybe use some of the ones that I gave. I really encourage you this week, today, whenever you have time to write down everything that happens in the course of your day, to write any kind of moments where things are tricky and sticky that you might like to put in a ritual, and make a list of things you want to try, and then give it a try. And I would love to hear how it goes. You can email me directly at michellegale@gmail.com. And we will see each other a little bit later in the week. Thanks for being here.