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Creating Ritual

This past month in our Aloft book club, we read about creating rituals as a way to connect to our bodies and become more present.  This topic resonates with me and it’s something I’ve worked hard to create for myself in my personal life.  This month I thought I might share my own thoughts about ritual and the practice I’ve created.

I think when many of us hear the word ritual, we tend to associate it within a religious context.  I think back to my own religious experiences of taking communion, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, or holding up a candle on Christmas Eve to “Silent Night.”  While my own personal preferences and experiences have taken me away from attending church, for me these memories still bring me a sense of comfort and familiarity.  To define a ritual, I think of it a bit like a routine with heightened attention to beauty, language, meaning, and rhythm.  It’s something we do often with purpose and intention.  Maybe the purpose is to connect with the divine, source, God or however you’d like to define it, or maybe the purpose is simply to connect to ourselves.

Rituals can be experienced in a community setting like a church or a yoga studio or a corporate meeting, but to me a ritual is most profound and powerful when we create it for ourselves.  When we give ourselves permission to throw out rules and expectations of others and create a practice that speaks personally to our own comfort and needs, we create a reference point for home and safety within our own bodies.  A personal ritual does not need to take long and it does not need to involve expensive materials or any type of professional.  It simply takes intention, a commitment to making it a regular practice, and a willingness to honor our bodies and minds. 

A ritual can be as simple as brewing a cup of coffee at the same time each day and enjoying it with peace and stillness.  Or it can be as complex as you’d like it to be.  Maybe a ritual involves journaling, creating, exercising, nature, prayer, poetry, or body movements.  For me, I carved out a small room in my house I dubbed “my meditation room.”  I spend time here first thing every morning, not always for long, but long enough to be still and check in with myself.  I usually light a candle and some incense, sometimes I’ll add a reading or play my sound bowl.  Usually a cup of coffee is involved.  There are days when it has felt a bit forced and when I want to rush through it, and I’ve changed it over the years to make it feel less routine and more special when it starts to get mundane.  What I know is on my good days, ritual starts my day by centering and grounding me.  And when I’m at my lowest, ritual is what keeps me anchored.  It lets me know I’ve chosen myself, I’m never alone, and I’m safe. 

I hope no matter where you find yourself on your journey, you’ll pause to consider rituals you’ve already created and rituals waiting for you to practice.