In a world that’s rapidly changing, I’ve been thinking lately about what anchors my day and gives meaning, pleasure, connection, certainty and comfort. It’s the power of ritual. In the chaos of the world, where we can often feel frustrated, angry and powerless, ritual imbues a sense of connection and empowerment.
There are all types of rituals from religious rituals, rites of passage at coming of age, birth, marriage, menopause and death. Many religions and cultures celebrate rituals at the end of harvest, and in ancient times when a new location for a village was found rather like a modern day housewarming.
What’s the difference between ritual and routine? Rituals carry a deeper life affirming significance. When I place my awareness and intention on what seems like a mundane action, it turns into a ritual. Like returning home and crossing the threshold of my doorway I pause and give thanks for where I live, the safety and security of home. I aim to greet those that are arriving and leaving with the same importance.
Rituals that create connection with oneself and others, increase the bonding and love hormone oxytocin. When women hit the menopausal years, oxytocin becomes more important because it counters the stress hormone cortisol. Putting more oxytocin in your life through hugs, touch, loving relationships and self pleasure rituals is the number one way to reset your hormones in menopause. And rituals can improve sleep, mood, memory, relieve stress and reduce pain and fatigue.
…without rituals and celebrations, we can lose sight of our true selves. And, some researchers believe that many of our culture’s physical and mental illnesses stem from our disconnection from ritual and community. Dr Christiane Northrup, MD
I know if my life is lacking ritual when I see pleasure and joy plummet and life becomes simply routine….without ritual I wither. To turn a routine into a health affirming ritual pick something that you do regularly, like eating and turn it into an activity that gives you joy using the power of your intentional mind.
Watch out for rituals that might be “tension relieving rather than health achieving” like retail therapy, drinking more that a couple of glasses or wine every night, or always having to have a sweet/salty/crunchy snack when you sit in front of the TV, or read a book.
Instead of finding more time for riutal, use natural transition points in your day. From finishing one task to another, use these natural peaks and troughs to sync with your breath, and your internal voice. In a state of presence and grace, everything we do can be in the moment and feel more like ritual than routine.
What are some of your favourite rituals that give you pleasure and are doable, simple and repeatable? What rituals do you enjoy on your own or with friends? When you are juggling so many activities, the challenge is to put YOUR rituals as important place markers in the day.
- Sweating, infra red sauna and sweat lodges
- Essential oils, diffusing or using on the body
- Smudging and space clearing using herbs like sage and palo santo
- Self-massage and self-pleasure with oils
- Putting on lipstick, makeup, face mask, having a bath
- Qigong or other movement/exercise like barefoot walking and dance
- Preparing and sharing food with friends and family
- Breathing exercises
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Putting mobile phone to bed and having a night time routine without technology
- Journal, a writing practice
- Oil pulling and drinking water first thing in the morning with a pinch of himalayan salt