The Joy of Rituals

“We are what we repeatedly do.” Aristotle

Rituals conjure up a variety of different images and feelings in people.

What do you think of when you hear the word ritual?

Offerings, chanting, religion, peace offerings to exotic gods, full moon celebrations or sun worshiping.

Yet, I would suggest to you that we all have many little daily rituals that enhance our lives, and perhaps we overlook them as we do them mindlessly without being 108% present.

The question may be what is the difference between a ritual, a habit or a practice?

And how to harness the positive effects for our well being and vitality?

So let’s explore what I think are the differences between ritual, practice an habit and I have to say the difference can be quite subtle and shift from person to person.

Ritual

What makes a ritual a ritual?

For me a ritual marks a stage or shift in your life or natural cycle. This could be a honouring the full moon, dark moon, solstice or equinox, initiation into manhood or womanhood, perhaps the transition to wise woman or crown phase for women.

What I am saying is a significant and meaningful moment located with the natural cycle of nature or the wheel of life. I enjoy marking full and dark moons because as a woman cycle have been a very strong current in my life.

The full moon is a time of considering, contemplating and reflecting upon creative projects and a cathartic letting go of all that I have been holding onto that is preventing me from envisioning and enacting my heartfelt dharma. Dark moon on the other hand is a deep and often confusing time as realisations, insights, and soulful epiphany about the direction I could move in. I see this time as profound connection to the source of all life – energy, nature, divine consciousness, GOD.

I enact these potent times with ritual – a meaningful ceremony, celebration or set of actions that mark or signify in some way this moment in time. I like to journal, meditate, make mandalas, practice yoga with a strong intention and just sit and contemplate life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rituals are symbolic actions or ceremonies that have a much deeper purpose than just the actions themselves. A ritual usually follows a system or steps or sequence that mark, anchor and enhance your spiritual and wellbeing life experience. They can be enacted alone or part of a community or groups think full moon meditation, the shift to woman hood with a red tent celebration. Can I just add, mindless rituals are actually just habits because your heart and soul aren’t completely and wholly engaged in the experience as it is unfolding.

Dive deep commit to yourself and ask yourself…

What brings me a deep and soulful  fulfilment?

What aspects of life do I really love?

What aspects of my life do I care about immensely and wish to celebrate and connect with deeply and profoundly?

Rituals give us comfort and a sense of knowing where you are in the moment, perhaps even in the bigger picture of the cyclic rhythm of nature and lives cycle. they support our needful structure, and a sense of harmony and balance.  If you like rituals are that are knots that you can hold onto to anchor onto to and embed yourself into the fabric of a rich and rewarding life.

Stay tuned for my next blog for more on rituals..

Practice

Practices like my yoga practice, meditation and walking are activities that bring me good physical and mental health. Practice provide benefits from a regular, committed and dedicated discipline to practice for it is through daily or frequent practice that supports connectivity in the brain supporting your progress in the skill or art that nourishes or makes your heart and spirit sing. Mindfulness, gratitude, positive mind stream and a heathly relationship with others and money are all learned skills. Practice.

Practices can be used to strategically improve or increase your capacity in a set of skills that could bring greater fulfilment in your life. The idea, for me, is to adopt practices that improve and cultivate the skills or abilities I would like more of in my life.

“Practice. All is coming.” Pattabhi Jois

“Guruji,” I said. “You have seen my life, met my friends. As a big yogi to a little yogi, do you have any advice for me?”
“Yes,” he replied. “Each morning, wake up. Do as much yoga as you want. Maybe you’ll eat, maybe you’ll fast. Maybe you’ll sleep indoors, maybe you’ll sleep outdoors. The next next morning, wake up. up. Do as much yoga as you want. Maybe you’ll eat, maybe you’ll fast. Maybe you’ll sleep indoors, maybe you’ll sleep outdoors.

Practice yoga, and all is coming!”

Dive deep commit to yourself and ask yourself…

Which new skill or belief would enhance my life, my health, my wellbeing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Aimo Javier

Habit

Habits are actions or behaviours that we just do without really thinking about. They don’t really hold a specific or special place in our lives, in many ways, habits are just what we do because we have always done them. And this is where it gets tricky as maybe we write in our journal even more specific a gratitude or self love journal, perhaps meditation yet if it is done without thinking, it can become as routine as flossing your teeth or drinking 2 litres of water every day.

Habits, healthy habits, are wonderful as they conserve our energy by reducing our cognitive load as we do not really think as we move through the actions of a habit if you like it is a mindless action in that is occupies very little mind or thinking activity. In fact, research suggests that 40% of our actions are driven by habit – not a product of well-considered decision making  – just habit! Food of thought.

Habits can also have positive and negative effects on our wellbeing, and negative habits, as many of us know, can prove to be very difficult and challenging to shift or change. We only have to consider habits like fast food, alcohol consumption or recreational drugs and don’t forget the habits of the mind to comprehend how persuasive and strong these mind streams can be.  Mind habits are really hard to track down to the source but so worthwhile when you take the time to trace beliefs back to their source and then begin to recognise them in your everyday life. Parents do the best they can, yet often a word or sentence they throw out without really meaning it can haunt or follow you through life. I am talking about limiting beliefs or vasanas as we call them in yoga like ‘I am not enough’, I don’t deserve love’. ‘I am unloveable, undeserving’ …put in your own variation of this. Vasanas are deep set beliefs we hold about ourselves are flavour, colour and direct our choices subconsciously  across our lives.

Dive deep commit to yourself and ask yourself…

Which habits support my health and wellbeing right now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Om shanti yoga lovers,

Margot XX