Rituals and Sacred Spaces

Today was a good Sunday. The snowfall on Friday left me very disappointed, but it seems that we have Spring Weather once more. The snow melted, and today was 100% sunshine, warmth, birdsong. Sundays are the day when I should be completely out of the lab (I say “should”, even though I know that rarely happens) and use the opportunity to regenerate.

I went to the gym, snuck into their on-site sauna for a wonderful 20 minutes. It doesn’t pack all that much heat, but the warmth is enough to soothe me. I wasted time in a coffeeshop, ran through a To Do list that I’d been neglecting for too many weeks (grading, ordering Lapsang Souchong tea, booking flights, tax return) and took it easy.

Coping with grad school means knowing how to turn off the stress. On the weekend nights – Friday, Saturday, Sunday – I like to light candles or burn incense. I’ll turn off my cold bedroom lights to leave only the warm glow of my nightstand lamp. I’ll drink a cup of green tea, chamomile or Rooibos as one of the last things I do before sleep. I think it must be a ritual; a programmed way of releasing stress. I know it works, because I sleep very well.

Heat and fire. Candles and saunas.

Food is part of the ritual, too. Going to a restaurant where the servers recognise me (“Long time no see.”) and know my preferences is very soothing. I prefer to eat vegetable-heavy meals, the more vegetables I eat, the clearer I feel inside.

Veggie pho. Eggplant in garlic sauce with string beans & bak choi. Pad Thai. Paneer, sag and chana masala.

Most of the time I would say that I am doing well in grad school. Although it is tough, I don’t think my experience is a bad one. I’ve heard plenty of genuine horror stories (many of which were firsthand accounts), and I’m grateful for what I have.


Does anyone else have any “Grad Life Rituals?” What are the little things that keep/kept you sane during your PhD?

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