Nighttime Rituals for beginners

Rituals can be hard to stick to, it’s like you’re riding high when you first plan out your routine and then get demotivated to keep it up, as the stress of the day gets in the way.

But little rituals can bring such calm and tranquility if you stick with them. They are this moments of peace that you give yourself, something you reward yourself with each night.

Here are a few starter ideas for an easy ritual for anyone looking to start one.

  1. An hour and a half before going to bed wind up emails and social media habits. Light a candle and start getting ready to enter your zone of slumber.
  2. Dim the lights and put on some music, any kind of music that brings you peace-jazz, classical, folk whatever soothes you.
  3. Slip into something comfortable and carry out your nighttime rituals- brushing your teeth, taking off makeup or taking a shower, moisturizing etc.
  4. Make some chamomile tea, chamomile tea is an incredible nighttime tea, it has a very subtle aroma and doesn’t really taste like anything but chamomile is said to be a calming ingredient. Or have some red wine while listening to your calming music.
  5. When you finally lie down in bed, be grateful for at least one thing. Start slow be thankful for one thing and when you get into this habit start being grateful for at least 5 things in your life.
  6. Wish the sky goodnight with its waning or waxing moon.

I know this can seem like it’s a long routine but it isn’t it can be compressed all you need is 20 minutes, if you can’t find that much time you can do this in 10 minutes as well with 3 key elements. Turn off social media, have some water, and skincare that’s it if that’s all you have time for.

You can be grateful for at least one thing even as you’re dozing off, just whisper thanks..

Three books to escape into….

Books can be a great way to explore themes, lands and feelings we haven’t yet explored. Sometimes we read just because we have to or because someone told us “you have to read this” I personally can’t stand that, because that story may not be for me. But when you find a book that marks you, a story that transforms you, writing that transports you, you often wonder- “how have I not read this before?”

Here are a few books to escape into, (with short summaries) so you can decide for yourself if that’s a story for you. (If you haven’t already read them of course.)

  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again

Daphne du Maurier

The most beautiful part of this book is the atmosphere it creates with its words. The beauty of nature, the estate Manderley in Cornwall, the silent eerie and mysterious vibration that is sensual in its writing. It will transport you.

It is cinematic in it’s progression and that makes sense as it has been adapted into movies, it just has that cinematic quality.

Summary: A young American woman (the narrator) on holiday in Monte Carlo marries a wealthy Englishman Mr. Maximilian “Maxime” de Winter, after a brief encounter. She is often told by the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers about Rebecca, Maxime’s first wife. By being compared to Rebecca again and again the narrator feels less than, and isolated, she constantly tries to impress and please while being psychologically pressed by Mrs. Danvers. The story and its characters are haunted by Rebecca and her unseen presence.

There is an air of mystery around Rebecca and the lives of all characters in the book, a strange montage of lurking past and obscure future, it is a great book to sink into.

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

This is my favourite book. It can be a slow-read even though it is a short book. But there is no comparison to any other book. This book stands at the top of lyrical writing that just plays with the heartstrings. It is a classic for a reason.

It creates a theatrical background and you can’t help but get deeply attached to how human the characters are. Whether they are good humans or bad they are so flawed that it makes this story that much more heart-wrenching.

Men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Summary: This book follows the lives of Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanon in an entangled story about love, wealth, class, glamour and dreams. It is a whole world in its own right. It is sheer poetry and a statement about class, new and old money and glamourous 1920s lifestyle. The hero Gatsby is a hopeless dreamer, romantic who builds himself from the ground, looking for the lost love of his life-Daisy and navigating the high society, trying to build real relationships and gain real respect.

  • The Waves by Virginia Woolf (1931)

This book is harder to describe as it doesn’t really have a plot. But it is a kaleidoscope of memories, the sea, lives and feelings in soliloquies by the 6 characters. This will be hard to read if you do not enjoy stream of consciousness, however, if you do, this is a great way to escape.

I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.

Virginia Woolf

Tip: you can enjoy The Waves better if you don’t try to make sense of everything, see it as a thought process and let the words paint you an experience.

Best fragrances with Jasmine at their heart.

Jasmine is a beautiful flower that grows in tropical and subtropical regions. It has a very strong and heady scent making it a perfect accord to perfumes.

I get a warm, dizzy feeling with this scent, it feels like being in a late July daze. Because, it has a part in my childhood, I can recall summers filled with this scent in the south of India.

Every flower has its own symbolic significance. Jasmine has its symbolism rooted in romance, love, beauty and sensuality. These little flowers bloom at night. Perfumes that have very dominant jasmine notes are perfect to wear at night. It especially has the vibe of balmy summer evenings.

They are a great reminder of summer as they’re tropical flowers and they have a warm scent emanating the essence of summer heat, making their scent a sensual and cozy fragrance to wear in winters as well.

Here are 4 fragrances with prominent jasmine notes

  • J’adore by Christian Dior

This fragrance was made in 1999, it is very strong and heady and has Jasmine at its heart notes. It’s a feminine and sensual fragrance. There are several versions of J’adore including an Intense version.

  • Gabrielle Essence by Chanel

This fragrance came out in 2019 and it also has Jasmine as one of it’s heart notes, it gives a very warm feeling, its indescribable in how sensual it feels on wearing it on a gloomy day. It’s strong but delicate enough to wear it during day time as well.

  • L’Interdit by Givenchy

This fragrance was originally made in 1957 for Audrey Hepburn. It is noted in several fashion, history and cinema icon books that it was her signature scent. There have been several new versions of this fragrance.

  • Chanel N0.5

This is the most celebrated and popular fragrance. It came out in 1921 and is the most sold fragrance of all time and It has Jasmine at its heart. But this one is stronger than all other Jasmine fragrances. It’s very concentrated and is immediately recognizable and a very intense fragrance. A classic.

There are many other perfumes with jasmine notes, however, I find these particular ones to be the most sensual ones.

If you are someone not big on perfume but do love the smell of jasmine. Several natural essential oil roll-ons can be used instead.

Every perfume smells different on everyone -which one will you like the most will depend on your skin and your natural scent, but all these perfumes have an intense jasmine essence.

10 positive poems to relax and read

Poetry is the most beautiful flare that language can have. It’s a writer’s most creative tool. It’s the most sentimental that words can be. There is a poem for everything. For seasons, for a gloomy day or for a random Sunday. There is nothing too unpleasant or strange to put in a poem. The right poems with the right moods just fall in harmony perfectly together.

So, when poems are describing or exploring things and concepts that are beautiful to begin with, it makes reading them that much more lovely.

Poems that explore the subject of love, dreams, or when they describe the sheer aesthetic beauty of nature or a person it can really bring a smile to your face.

photographed by me

Here are 10 poems to read when you want some beautiful words just for yourself.

  1. The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats

This poem creates a calming visual imagery, I find poems with nature imagery to be the most beautiful as they immediately play in our minds like a painting.

“And I shall have some peace there,

for peace comes dropping slow

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow….”

2. I Wandered Lonely as a CloudDaffodils‘ by William Wordsworth

This poem creates a beautiful image it paints with words of the obvious beauty that nature has to offer. It’s a light read and creates just the most delightful image.

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

3. The Brook by Alfred Lord Tennyson

This is another poem with nature imagery but it is not about a person looking out on nature in marvel but nature itself flowing with it’s timeless divinity. It is a sublime poem about things much bigger than us much more powerful than us, forces that have eternal beauty.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
   To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on for ever.

4. Song of a Dream by Sarojini Naidu

This is a meditation in poetry. It is composed in such a delicate and positive way you can’t help but feel calm when you read it.

“And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,
And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,
And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed……”

5. Que serais-je sans toi? by Louis Aragon

What would I be without you? is a lovely, romantic French poem. There are many translations available and videos reciting this poem in French with subtitles.

“Qui parle de bonheur a souvent les yeux triste

N’est-ce pas un sanglot que la déconvenue

Une corde brisée aux doigts du guitariste

Et pourtant je vous dis que la bonheur existe ….”

Translation:

Who speaks of happiness often has sad eyes/isn’t disappointment a sob?/a broken string in the fingers of a guitarist/ and still I am telling you that happiness exists..

6. “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

This is a motivational and sweet poem about hope.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

7. Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? by William Shakespeare

This is one of my favourite poems as this speaks of summers. It is alluring in the atmosphere it creates.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;….”

8. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

This poem will empower you, it is strong and a force in the way it reads. It’s great to read for some motivation.

“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise…”

9. Dreams by Langston Hughes

This is a short but powerful and positive poem from the Harlem Renaissance.

” Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.”

10. A Birthday by Christina Rossetti

This is a short poem about love and the happiness that comes with being in love.

“My heart is like a rainbow shell
                  That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
                  Because my love is come to me.”

All of these poems are widely available online. These are short and sentimental to read again and again. They are filled with beautiful poetic tools and of course many interpretations.

Poetry can be calming to read and poems like these that have something positive about them are lovely to read before going to bed or after waking up.

Scents of Tranquility

We all feel low from time to time. When I feel the blues I find aromatherapy to be a quick fix, an instant mood booster. Though it may be temporary but most of the times what we need, is few hours of serenity to calm the mind to brainstorm solutions and a relaxed state of mind helps us think better and panic less.

I personally found that aromatherapy calms my mind, lifts my mood and helps me deal with my anxiety and panic-attacks.

Beautiful scents immediately take us to a specific time in our lives. I like to describe it this way- scent takes us on a journey to nostalgia now it may be good or bad but, when a good memory associated with a scent comes to us it’s delightful to be taken on the trip of aromatherapy . A specific cologne or perfume can remind us a specific person, a specific place, specific memory from childhood etc.

Note: Only do this if you are not allergic to fragrance. If you are on medication or have a specific health condition, please consult a professional.

Here are a few truly calming scents perfect after a stressful day.

  1. Lavender

You knew this was coming, lavender is the first scent that comes to mind when we talk about aromatherapy. Lavender is believed to calm down the nerves and promote sleep. It can help with stress. Personally this scent works perfectly for me it sends me in a daze. It’s subtle but it works like sleep it slowly comes to you overpowers you and can make you feel calm. But it can be heady so, start slow with how much lavender you incorporate into your nighttime rituals.

2. Eucalyptus

Often used in balms and incense. It can promote relaxation, and help with a blocked nose and cold symptoms. Eucalyptus is quite strong so a little goes a long way. A lot of yoga studios use this during power yoga sessions.

3. Rose

Rose is the fragrance that most people have some memory with. A very common flower, a symbol of romance and beauty. So, if you’ve gotten a whiff of fresh roses on a beautiful day and it made you feel calm then, this would be a good choice. It can help with headaches and enhance mood.

4. Neroli

This is a bit rare because it’s such a specific scent that you may not have a memory with yet, however, it has a great relaxing scent that can help in enhancing mood. It is used a lot in spas and aromatherapy specific massages.

Blush Flowers-Photo by me.
Lavender From Canva

How to use these fragrances

  • The most common way is by using Essential oils and diffusers. Add 3-5 drops of essential oil and dilute it in two spoons of water pour it on the top of the oil burner and set the tealight candle inside. Slowly it will heat the oil and water solution and spread the scent in the room. This is the best way to start using aromatherapy as you can figure out from a distance if this works for you.
  • Perfume, wearing perfumes/colognes is a personal form of self expression but if you find a specific scent that really calms you down then you use perfumes or perfume oils.
  • Pillow Sprays, these are a bit more subtle and faint but spraying them on your pillow can create a very delicate sense of aroma. Ideally all natural/organic and clean pillow sprays are recommended. Like natural distilled waters with lavender/rose extracts. Because they are safer for the skin.
  • Candles are the most common accent in aromatherapy as they are easy to find, last long and look aesthetic as well.
  • Bath or shower products if you enjoy taking showers or baths before going to bed then soaps, shower gels, shampoos with calming scents can make your bath experience feel like a spa. But this isn’t great if your skin is allergic to fragrance but if not. It can definitely help.
Photographed by me at the Fragonard Museum in Paris.

Scents are personal and your senses will immediately tell you if you like something or not and if it works for you or not, as scents create an instant emotional reaction. Scents add a great feeling of personality and calmness to the home as well. We can all use calming down and any way that helps even a little with calmness is worth a try.

Rituals for Winter

There are days when you feel down and not up for anything. When days feel like evenings and evenings like night. The days when you can hear the loud winds and rustling of twigs. It can feel unsettling and lonely. But it has it’s own kind of beauty. I have always disliked winters but appreciating them makes me enjoy summer that much more it elevates the real joy to greater heights.

It’s almost always worse when it starts raining on a cold winter day. You can feel a shiver down your spine. Here are a few tips to make gloomy winter days comforting.

Somewhere in London photograph by me.

Rituals for a Gloomy Day

  1. Lack of sunshine always brings me down, makes me feel irritated and uncomfortable, so on days like those it’s important to remember and remind yourself with gratitude of the warmth you have in life. The comfort of home.
  2. Great time to try out some winter delicacies like warm soups or spicy recipes to change your day.
  3. Grab a good book or watch a great movie you’ve always wanted to stream.
  4. Surround yourself with warm colours. Red, Maroon, Burgundy, Plum. This is also a great way to get into the festive season.
  5. Create an ambience of warmth and comfort with soft cozy lights, scented candles, music.
  6. Do any ritual that reminds you of your childhood.

Here are some great songs that go with gloomy days

I’m not including Christmas tracks because that is a dedicated list in its own right.

  • California Dreamin’- (any version is good but I personally prefer Nancy Sinatra’s version)
  • Stormy Weather-Harold Arlen
  • Solitude-Billie Holiday
  • La Javanaise- Serge Gainsbourg
  • Old Money- Lana Del Rey
  • Various Storms and Saints- Florence + The Machine

Winter can be a lonely time especially these days but moments like those can be inspiring to create art. Think of things that help you to feel warm and as a result others as well.

Self-care tips for Winter

  • Take care of yourself by drinking lots of water and keeping hydrated in winters we tend to drink less water but we need it that much more.
  • Try to add spices to your cooking, baking and beverages. Add spices like pepper, paprika, turmeric, nutmeg and ginger.
  • Do cardio to keep warm or go for a run.
  • Take warm showers/baths moisturize and add some great winter scents. Warm woody perfumes with spicy accords or powdery perfumes with notes of sandalwood or go sweeter with Christmas themed scents like vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine and read a good book. Or watch classic comedies.
  • Dress in your best winter style there’s nothing like a cozy sweater.
In New Delhi photographed by me.

Usually in winters I read about summer and reminisce about hot July nights but lately I’ve been trying to embody the spirit of each season so I find myself reading about winter even more, listening to music inspired by winter, and trying to find the best ways to make winters as comfortable as they can be.

Candles and warmth photo by me.

Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.

Victor Hugo

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

Albert Camus

Remember no winter lasts forever. This way you’ll find the best in it and note that Spring is always waiting to greet you.

take a walk right now…

Walking is such a simple yet effective form of exercise not just for the body but for the mind.

Walking is a great way to be somewhere and nowhere at the same time. A moment with yourself. There’s nothing a power walk in fresh air cannot solve.

Reasons you should consider taking a walk right now……

  1. It’s an incredible step towards a healthier life. Walking for the sake of walking makes you energetic, active and refreshed.
  2. Inspiration will come to you. I can’t count the number of poems and song ideas have come to me while on a walk. So whatever it is you need inspiration with it will come to you.
  3. Being in nature is a form of accessible therapy, a cathartic tool you carry with yourself wherever you go.
  4. You will feel more aware, more present in your body.
  5. It is a sensual experience, you can feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your cheeks, the drizzle on your skin, the grass beneath you, you can smell the flowers or the petrichor if it has just rained, you can listen to the sound of the birds and obviously see all the little pretty things nature has to offer each day.
  6. Zone out, I used to walk just to listen to music, and listen to music just to walk, It is a great way to zone out and decompress.

A little afternoon interlude

Can you feel your energy draining around 3pm? We all get that hazy feeling when we start to feel lazy and want to drift into sleep, especially these days when most people are working from home or are in lockdown.

You may feel “I’m going to take a nap” and then you end up waking up in the evening, feeling lethargic, lazy and lacking in energy to do anything especially exercise.

Here are a few things to do after lunch to avoid that afternoon haze

  1. Right after lunch, have some green tea don’t lie down. This is a healthy habit to feel alert and aid in healthy weight loss. It can be tempting to lay down and drift into sleep but this disrupts the sleep cycle, by falling into this cycle you will find it harder to fall asleep at night and as a consequence wake up late and repeat this pattern all over again. I’m trying to break this pattern right now and it’s hard and it needs dedication however, I have done this before and it really works.
  2. Around 4pm indulge in your dose of caffeine, this is a good time to have coffee or tea, as it won’t keep you up at night. This is what has helped me from napping.
  3. However, don’t be worried to take a nap if you really feel like you need it. Keep it short, no more than 30 minutes. Naps are beneficial and they refresh and reset your brain however, sometimes we don’t really need them we are just tempted, so our naps turn to a long period of sleep that can slow you down.
  4. Plan an evening workout, cardio, or slow stretches, walks, dancing whatever makes you feel energetic.
  5. When in doubt look for music or short clips online that interest you and motivate you, something so interesting that you forget about your laziness.

You will feel so much more energised with this little change, and find time that you forgot you had. Afternoons can be calm and beautiful, plenty of extra time to do the things you never find time to do. Especially during these times…

Lilac Sky

The little things in life, day-to-day musings are the greatest source of inspiration.

I specifically love that specific time at the cusp of evening and night, right before twilight when the sky looks like an impressionist painting and just like the impressionists I want to capture those dreamy moments of drifting hues.

Lilac Sky Photograph taken by me.

When the skies bleed colours

in between the clouds

It makes me wonder what a wonderful world

What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence

Claude Monet

Rituals for Autumn

Autumn is a truly vibrant time of the year. It always inspires me in a philosophical way. As a lover of summer, I feel a bit melancholic when the warmth of summertime slowly begins to fade.

However,

Change of seasons are a great time to make little lifestyle changes, to adapt to the changing environment.

Right at the cusp of the fading warmth and falling leaves, there are rituals I have begun doing to carry me through the entirety of autumn. It made me feel warm and energised.

In mythology, philosophy, ancient civilisations and literataure. Autumn is a time to shed the past.

In any circumstance mimicking nature is our best bet to live full and vibrant lives.

Just like the leaves that change colour, fall and drift into the wind we must do so as well.

No matter how small the change, change is essential to embrace the spirit of autumn.

Especially in 2020, our world has been a whirlwind of sudden shifts beyond our comfort. It may have pushed some of you, into a deep state of restless melancholy, your plans are on hold, your mood has shifted in directions you didn’t intend.

Let’s see it this way, the only way that doesn’t cause a panic attack.

This is the time to reshape your life, let go of everything that doesn’t harmonize with your melody. Turn over a new leaf, learn to move on.

Autumn Rituals

  1. Now this first step is going to seem futile however, it is a very tiny baby step. When autumn started I incorporated it’s colours daily in any way I could. That could be dressing in hues of green, warm yellow, mustard, red, orange and finally brown. Just to get in the zone of autumn. Little things like painting your nails orange, or making slight changes with different home décor accents.
  2. Adding Fall Scents, such as cinnamon, pumpkin, cardamom or any sweet fragrance with few spicy accords, you can add these through candles, perfume or even cooking/baking.
  3. Autumn music to truly embrace the change.

here are a few suggestions…….

  1. Early Autumn– Ella Fitzgerald
  2. Autumn in New York-Bing Crosby
  3. Les Feullies Mortes- Yves Montad
  4. September in the Rain-Frank Sinatra
  5. When October Goes-Rosemary Clooney
  6. Autumn Leaves-Bing Crosby
  7. The September Of My Years-Frank Sinatra

Here are some autumn impressions

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall

F.Scott Fitzgerald

Notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature

Friedrich Nietzsche

Designers want me to dress like Spring, in billowing things, I don’t feel like Spring I feel like a warm Red Autumn

Marilyn Monroe

As long as Autumn lasts I shall not have hands, canvas and colours enough to paint the beautiful things I see.

Vincent Van Gogh

Apart from the obvious aesthetic enchantment of fall there are some serious changes that we can make to our lives for self-betterment.

  • Let go of anything that weighs you down, any habit, word, feelings that hinder happiness.
  • Let go of the past, it is easier said than done, but if you haven’t begun then start now.
  • Write down 5 good things that you felt in the summer thank your life for those moments and let go of any unpleasant memories.
  • Make healthier food choices, all the harvest that autumn has to offer. In ancient civilizations autumn was a great time to come together and enjoy the harvest before winter took it away.

Every season is there to teach us something new, we just have to capture it’s essential spirit and live it to the fullest.