When life is changing, transformation is happening, and reinvention is in full force, feeling grounded might not be in the present picture for you. While embracing the unknown, stepping into new arenas and treating yourself to adventures is über-empowering, having some stability in the midst of change is a vital part of self care. Conscious ritual has the capacity to bring stability and comfort to any cycle you are in, including the more turbulent periods of life.
When introduced to the concept of ritual in my beginnings of recovery, I didn’t think I had any. I assumed ritual was reserved for spiritual or religious matters, certainly not the kind of life I was living. Then, upon closer examination and an opening mind, I realized how full of ritual my life was. Over time, by paying more attention to my actions and choosing self care, routine and ritual began to show up more visibly. I started checking in with mentors and friends regularly, attending mindfulness and recovery groups, and connecting with the natural world. Finding my way to a more consistent self care has been a path lined with ritual. Today, there are practices I have that make it into almost every day. Feeding my body, walking with the pooch, taking in a daily meditation from a favorite book are just a few. Regardless of how I feel, what is on the calendar, or whether I am in the mood or not, showing up for simple ritual enriches my spiritual and self love connection.
Consciously engaging an activity, however simple or grand, builds up my self care bank account.
Delegating a few moments to mindfulness and self reflection, spiritual learning or joyful service adds to my self esteem and self worth, too. The discipline and commitment of showing up for myself reinforces the belief that I am worthy of love, of participating in activities that add to my health and well being. The practice of loving myself, enjoying life’s pleasures, and slowing down enough to reap the benefits of what I do is the heart and soul of ritual.
Nearly every night I write a gratitude list. This is one of my favorite things! I have a daily calendar hanging on my wall. In the evening, after finishing dinner and winding down, I automatically go to tear off the page and grab a pen. After many months of showing up and reaping the benefits of this practice, it has become an automatic. Reflecting on the day I am completing as I hover over this 2” x 2” square, I notice what comes to mind and heart.
What am I grateful for? What brought a smile to my face, a laugh to my lips, an unexpected joy or opportunity to show up for another? Five items is the minimum. Some days, I keep it very simple. More nights than not, I fill both sides of the page with reasons I am thanking life. When I am complete, I fold the page and add it to the polka dot crystal vase on my counter literally brimming with gratitude lists from nights passed. This is a ritual I love. It calls me to show up, to embody the person I strive to be, to see through the lens of gratitude rather than complaint, to get honest and reveal sincere truths and vulnerabilities, to receive the gifts I am given. Taking an inventory of my day through the eyes of gratitude is rewarding and oftentimes fun. When I have difficulty coming up with items for the list, I have the opportunity to see what it standing in the way of thankfulness. This, too, is a gift, although sometimes I grumble at the mirror holding up the defects wedged between me and happiness. This ritual even permeates my daily escapades. I’ll find myself noticing thoughts, encounters, interactions and synchronicities throughout the day, making a mental note “that will go on the list tonight!”
What does ritual mean to you?
Do you have a practice that motivates and inspires you? Maybe you walk your dog every day, go to the same coffee shop and talk it up with the neighborhood elders, pray and meditate in the garden, light a candle with your evening meal, or call a family member to say goodnight. The details aren’t as important as what the ritual brings about. Does it empower you? Does it add more of what you want to your day? Does it share love and positivity?
Take a peek at your calendar and identify one ritual. Becoming more mindful of the rituals you are already practicing will allow you to choose which you want to continue and some you might want to change. Perhaps it is time to savor that daily practice you already engage in a little bit more. Have at it!
In the Flow,
Darcy Helene Meehan
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas