What Is Ritual?
Ritual is coming home. Devotion to recalibration. A memory space to hold a recollection of the sacred. Intentional actions serving tactical balance and reciprocity in our relating. Ritual is truly any action of habitual comfort, engaged with an intention for sensations of harmony and ease. Our rituals may serve as the crystalline well from which we unearth our infinite worth, creativity, perseverance and potentiality. They may act as the uncomplicated key to the undeniably complicated navigation of the map of this Life. Ritual is recognition of each moment as precious, welcome, a gift worth celebrating.
The gravity of anxiety is strong. It is a powerful force to be reckoned with as it lures us into a kind of sensual craze where we temporarily fall under the notion that the thoughts of our worried and ever-desiring minds are sustainable. That they are all we need. That they can find the fix for any ail. The gravity of anxiety pulls us to believe that we need to keep reaching externally for that panacea remedy we just have yet to find. If only we were rich enough to buy it. If only we had enough to time to learn it. Someone, something, will provide us the answer. It is out there somewhere.
Except that it is not. It is already Here. Within us. Above us. Below us. Flooding in and out of us as the miraculousness of each breath brings in inspiration and releases dormancy. We ourSelves are the panacea we seek. This moment Now holds it all. Our actions are the ceremony for this discovery. Ritual is our wake up call.
When we bring ritual back into our lives, we bring meaning back into our lives. We also bring in gratitude, purpose, and an unshakable sense of belonging. The simplest rituals can truly instill the deepest of connection with whatever it is we seek clarity on, as they are moments of communication with that sweeter sense of ourSelves which so deserves our honoring.
Our rituals need not be complicated, they can be as simple as drinking a cup of tea with awareness and intention. Tasting its sweetness, but swallowing so much more than just flavor. Swallowing a prayer, motivation, or vision. Rituals can also be as large as many hours set aside in a day or night to journey through a familiar exercise or process unique to our body + spirit's present needs.
Ritual also need not be consistent or habitual, as some of the best kinds of rituals are those that are spontaneous and reveal themselves unexpectedly. They are present moment oriented. Our movements are mysterious, while we watch our devotion to something unfold under a potent sense of awareness and connectivity, as a bridge between both the mundane and the divine. Bringing the sacred into a moment need not have anything to do with the past or predictions of the future. It doesn’t need to be the same repetitive acts day in, day out (though if inspired, it most certainly can be). Ritual can change over time ~ over many years or from as quickly as day to day. What becomes mechanistic and repetitive (just going through the motions) loses its life, its spirit. As we are living, fluctuating beings, ritual is about bringing spontaneity into our devotion and determination. It is about remaining a Witness to what wants to unfold.
May you keep exploring ways which allow you to cultivate a deeper sense of honor in your life, your environment, and your cyclicality. Intend to bring creativity and an innocent playfulness into your unique expression of ritual.
I invite you to some start somewhere by bringing simple ritual into your daily life, always with an element of Nature to aid. Here are a few ideas ~
- Tea ~ Have a cup of your favorite tea, and make at least the first few sips of that experience steeped in silence and your presence. Practice patience as your water warms. Practice patience as your leaves steep. And set an intention or say a prayer before you bring in your first sip. When you sip, imagine that intention Becoming you ~ fusing with your cells to bring about its manifestation. Do this outdoors if the weather permits!
- Listening ~ The next time you become aware that you are in a moment of needing to listen to someone, or something, make it your ritual to 1) sit up straighter, and them 2) take one long, deep breath. These easy body adjustments will anchor you into the moment, bringing about a devotion to be an active participant in life. This is a simple ritual that creates ripple effects into our environment and not only changes our experience by helping us to be more present, but changes the other person's (if it's a person we're listening to) experience by making them feel loved.
- Breath ~ Deep belly breathing is our surest way to balance the nervous system, drop out of the mind and back into the body. For a few minutes daily, ritualize with some deep breathing by sitting in silence and consciously bringing refreshing breath into your lungs, and releasing stagnant breath out to be released. Breathe deep and long, until you feel grounded and at ease. All the while, hold in your hands a totem of Nature that you presently feel drawn to ~ may be it’s an herb, an egg, a rock or stone, a feather, a flower. Definitely do this outdoors if the weather permits!
- Gratifood ~ Before each meal, spend a few moments settling into a few things that you are grateful for in your life that day. Recite them aloud. Envision this highest vibration of this gratitude leavening up your meal with extra goodness. Make gratifood your non-negotiable last “sprinkle of salt” onto each meal before diving in. Similarly bring to mind a thankfulness for the elements of Nature that conspired over many Moons to manifest the nourishment before you. The Sun and Moon, the rain, the bugs and bees, the plants and animals themselves for giving their lives for your life. Remember how generously Nature supports you.
- Writing ~ Each morning just as you rise, make a ritual of checking in with yourself through writing. Keep the notebook at your bedside ~ be it your dreams, a poem, a feeling, a prayer, a daily intention of something to accomplish. Give no mind to whether you believe yourself to be "good writer" or not. Just do it. Transform whatever fresh energy is within you in this way. Manifest Beauty from seeming-nothingness, first thing. Do so while lighting a candle, calling in the transformative element of Fire. Or do so while burning incense, calling in the refreshment of Air. Or do so while sipping your favorite tea, bringing in the spirit of some of your favorite herbs. Make it short and sweet. Make it long and sweet. Whatever the muse inspires that day.
I would love to hear what your favorite rituals are ~ large and small ~ and how they may have positively impacted your life! ~
“Having the courage to look within and without was an important attribute in most indigenous cultures. In fact, having such close contact with nature made such an inner journey unavoidable. Visions, dreams, prayer, ceremony and ritual are the means to access the sacred Spirit World through nature, the Grandmothers tell us. Ceremony and ritual allow participation in the myths or archetypes or ancestry of the culture and serve to take one out of any shallow ‘ordinary’ reality. Rituals powered by intention, focus, concentration, enabling access to more rarefied levels of the mind for communication with the spiritual realms for prophecy and guidance and to influence events. That is how knowledge of the healing powers of plants was first gained, how understanding was developed about the importance of honoring the four directions and the five basic elements: earth, water, air, fire and light. Spirituality’s highest purpose is to touch a mystery beyond words, which is perceived only in silence and solitude, the Grandmothers relate. Listening within the silence puts one in touch with the energy, vibration and spiritual forces that are at the heart of Creation. The realms are real, not of the imagination, and can only be reached by a quiet mind and by practice. This does not mean there is a lack of critical thinking, only that fighting the experience of connectivity, the now, while approaching that moment, blocks the experience of knowing. The Grandmothers show that we must return to our own inner spirit and the spirit of the all which we have abandoned while looking elsewhere for happiness.”
~~ The Secret Prophecy of the Grandmothers / The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers
* Artwork is by @tracybrigitta