It’s morning time, on any given day. I stand in my kitchen as the sunlight pours in through the window. I scoop a handful of mixed greens, taking in the freshness of the leaves as I throw them in the blender. I then chop fresh fruit, usually an apple, always stealing a bite or two before I add to the blender. I also mix in some super herbs from Anima Mundi Apothecary, my favorite online store for blended herbs and elixirs (seriously, check them out). I prefer the Green Coffee Bean or He Shou Wu to give my morning smoothie some extra healing powers. I lovingly craft this morning tonic, feeling so proud of the good I am doing for my body. As I press the ‘On’ button to my blender, hearing the high-intensity of the machine as it produces the perfect bright green, perfectly balanced morning nutrition I intentionally and silently express gratitude for the gift of day ahead. I think of an excerpt from one of my favorite daily reads, Yoga Gems, titled “Eat With Awareness”.
“Remember that food is the most basic link with the source of life. Be thankful for it, pray over it, honor it. We are not just filling our belly; we are nurturing our mind and spirit as well. Eating with full awareness puts us in harmony with nature – not only with the external world, but also our inner nature.”
This is my morning ritual – at least one of them anyway. A practice that connects me to nature – the external nature of all of life, but also to my inner nature.
Recently, I was listening to a podcast called Feminine Power Time with Christine Arylo. She was discussing what she calls her “bookend” practices of the day – practices in the morning and night time that are intentional and grounding, bringing peace, ease, and presence into her life. The morning practice sets the tone for the day, the nighttime practice ends the day on the same positive note. As Christine described her ‘bookend’ practices, I couldn’t help but think of these practices as rituals that connect us to our soul by quieting the noise of life, and bringing us into the present, with intention for connection.
Interestingly enough, if you do a little research on your favorite spiritually gifted, successful entrepreneur or guru, chances are they too practice daily rituals to bring some sense of tranquility, awareness, and connect to their very busy lives. Oprah is the queen of rituals, including spending time in nature (and with her dogs), 20 minutes of meditation, exercise, and eating a healthy meal, all before working.
Maybe when you think of the word ‘ritual’, it conjures a mental picture of people in robes, in the woods, dancing around a fire - or maybe this is just me - anyway, rituals have long since been used to connect to the Divine within, which is also the inner voice of love. (It’s important to note here that we can have an inner voice of fear, which is the ego – not to be confused with the inner Divine which only speaks in terms of love and peace.)
Practices such as writing, dancing, meditation, and many others, when done with reverence can greatly increase our capacity for connection, intention, presence, and soul alignment. Which in turn makes us feel better, healthier, happier, and more grounded in our lives. The more we can step away from our lives to create ‘Soul Space’, the more we can feel and hear our intuition. Isn’t that what we are all craving? To feel peaceful, fully alive, and connected?
In our fast-paced, modern lives, it can feel impossible to find time for ritual. It seems wasteful to add something else to our to do lists, especially something as seemingly luxurious as sitting in mediation or taking the time to prepare a nutritious meal. Rituals seem to demand time and energy with at first glance little return on investment. But rituals are the ultimate balancer. Rituals elevate the mundane parts of life. Rituals serve as a checkpoint; a timeout - they clear our minds and bodies and allow us to access space away from the heaviness of life. And the greatest reason of all to practice daily rituals is to connect deeply with our soul, with our inner voice, our inner truth, our inner compass. Briana and Dr. Peter Borten state in their book The Well Life “thus you can think of rituals as practice that establish us into the natural rhythm and order of life.”
We are increasingly finding that our modern, unnatural way of living has produced illnesses not previously known in our world. We are becoming a society bombarded with stress-based illnesses, depression, anxiety, auto-immune diseases, and many more ailments. We live in a world so overwhelmed with sensory input, demands, and responsibilities. Our energy is constantly invaded and pulled in different directions. Our world is so loud that it has become harder and harder to listen to pretty much anything, let alone the voice within.
Humans naturally seek connection. Humans are actually wired for connection – to each other, to nature, to ourselves, and to a Higher Power. The Inside, the down deep, the wise inner voice - this is where our soul lives – our human point of contact with the Divine, and ultimately with all of Life. This ‘deep down’ place is not a physical place, but rather a place of awareness, openness, and interconnectedness. When we lack this connection, we live life from an ungrounded, unbalanced state, which gives rise to all the modern ailments which afflict us.
The word ‘Ritual’ comes from ‘Rta’ which is the Sanskrit word meaning ‘natural order, cosmic truth’. An interpretation of ritual is ‘to create harmony among all things.’
Read that again – Harmony. Among. All. Things.
Who wouldn’t like to feel harmony between all-of-the-things of life? How do we make the space for such a thing? How do we connect?
If we are unaware that we lack this most basic link with the source of all of life, ultimately ourselves, we can show up in the world feeling frazzled, out of sorts, ungrounded, overwhelmed, and possibly even agitated. Harmony is possible among the density of life. It starts with small shifts in our daily routines.
Choosing to integrate a healthy ‘bookend’ practice into your life can make a measurable difference. Rituals can impact how we feel, how we respond, and how we show up in life. In order to create ritual in your life, start small. How can you set the tone for your day? Choose a mindful activity first thing in the morning before opening your phone and diving into the ‘noise’. This can be as simple as a cup of tea or as active as a morning run. Then end your day in connection, whether that is through reading a good book, taking a hot bath, or journaling (or something else!).
The point is to choose a ritual that a.) works for your life and b.) makes you feel connected to yourself and your higher power.
To get you started, we have compiled a list of our favorite rituals:
· Starting the day with a green smoothie
· Sitting down to enjoy a hot cup of tea
· Gratitude journaling
· Walking in nature
· New and Full moon practices
· Blessing a meal before eating
· Planning your day