ASK RAVEN: RITUALS

 

For many, rituals are tied to religion, church on the weekends, prayer every night, repent, bow, kneel, confess, sacrifice, rinse, repeat.  Many rituals are handed down by our family, community, culture, faith or society. Some of you might even think that you don't have rituals.

But Rituals actually make up parts of our daily lives. You might not think so, but things like brushing your teeth and making your bed, have an important impact on your day, week, month and year. When the world feels like its in chaos, rituals can help ground us, providing us with stability that anchors us into ourselves. Rituals are adaptable and integral to our mental wellness. The truth is that you'll get as much out of your rituals as you put into them, they only work if you do them in a committed matter.

Every ritual begins with intention. Every ritual is different and unique to the person setting it— like when you set pray over a candle and write in your journal. So, how do we develop rituals that help us connect with our bodies? Our Spirits? Our Health? Below is starting point for you to develop this.

Take Inventory: 

First you should take inventory of the rituals that you already have. Ask yourself whats working, why you do that particular thing, and if its having the intended outcome that you want. You might immediately think of rituals that you feel you are failing at. Rituals that you thought "should" have worked. Empty notebooks, unread guidebooks, abandoned gym equipment, forgotten meditation apps. Guilt and shame can take over, but don't feel bad. There's nothing wrong with trying something and having it not work for you. Rituals aren't universally applicable. You are a unique being, you’re an expert on your own life and needs… even if it doesn’t feel like that at times, trust the moment that you’re in.

Think of what you want to accomplish with the ritual you wish to develop. What realm, or realms does this intention inhabit? Is it a physical, spiritual, health intention, or all three? 

Once you have an idea of which realm your ritual might fall under think about where it can fit into your life. Rituals don't have to be expensive or complicated. It can be as simple as turning your phone off an hour before you want to go to bed. Starting a book, writing a gratitude list, listening to certain music when you wake up or go to sleep. Some examples of rituals can be taking a walk to a park you like, watching your favorite show every week. Making sure to connect with good friends, creating an altar, the list is endless. 

For example: My ritual involves making sure I clean my face at night. My night stand has a candle, matches, allergy meds, lip balm, melatonin and comic books. I have a gratitude journal with prompts and a pen in case I am inspired to actually write in it. 

Start slow.

I want you to practice imperfection. Rituals are practices that need to be living breathing things. Just like you, they need love, gentleness, and forgiveness. Yes, you might benefit from going to the gym five days a week (who wouldn't), but by starting slow, setting an easily attainable intention, it makes it more likely that you will be able to stick to it. Consistency and patience allows us to mindfully explore, take inventory, and reflect on the benefits of the ritual you are striving to establish. 

Reflect often.

Mindless rituals can become habits, so mindfulness is key. Taking the time to reflect on your rituals can give you a sense of whats working and what needs to change. Rituals can be powerful and it can help us cope, but they can't help us if they don't reflect our current needs. Its not about labeling anything as good or bad. Ask yourself, is this serving me right now? Rituals can symbolize our emotional and psychic state, reinventing your own rituals can help you recharge and celebrate yourself!

To help you get started here's a list is easy and mostly low cost or  free rituals you might want to consider:

- Taking a bath once a week

- Deep hair care or face care ritual 

- Scheduled naps

- Designated day dreaming time

- Writing prompts 

- Guided meditation 

- Reading a new book

- Astrology exploration

- Altar building

- Gratitude list with your friends or alone

- Making your bed every morning 

- Working out

- Meal prep

- Taking a walk at lunch

- Playing with animals

- Spending time with children or friends 

- daily affirmations 

- social media breaks 

I hope that this is a helpful start to your journey of ritual development! And remember to be gentle with yourself and the rituals that you start this year. The goal is progress, not perfection.


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Raven Burgos,

MSW is a Therapist and Native New Yorker. Learn more about her work and her, here hellohappiness