Finding the Sacred in the Everyday
Nurturing Connections, Self-Care Practices, and the Transformative Power of Repetition in the Chaos of Daily Life- By Imogen North
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My word for 2023 - the word I have been living my life by this year - is EXPAND. My purpose with this was to expand into my local community and make deep connections. I felt after the separation of covid that I needed to nurture relationships, co-create safe spaces once again and participate in intentional gatherings. Which is why it feels resonant to me to be finishing the year thinking about ritual.
What is ritual?
When I started looking at definitions of rituals in various different dictionaries they tended to connect the word to religion, which doesn’t sit comfortably with me.
For sure the intention of the ritual practice, the sequence of activities with gestures, words, actions, objects has to be clear and have a tone or defined purpose that sets them apart from that of the every day. I feel there needs to be a sacredness to rituals, even if is just about the manner in which you grind your coffee beans (if grinding coffee beans is for you a morning ritual).
I had lunch with a dear friend last week and were talking about ‘avoidance' of practices juxtaposing with the practices that you just do as part of your self-care rituals with ease? What ritual practices do you engage in with ease? Perhaps it is journalling? Or meditating? Perhaps it is silent morning walks? Or perhaps it is just a quiet bath before bed?
Note those down. And then take a moment to recognise which rituals you tell yourself you 'should' engage with that you find challenging. And then see if you can recognise why you avoid certain practices?
What does ritual mean to you?
Do you have any rituals that you weave into your days or weeks that serve as touchpoints? Rituals that serve as a navigation systems to help you check-in with your personal development?
If you are struggling to think of anything you can add at the top of your list…. YOGA.
Yoga is a ritual - it is a complex tradition that overlaps many different religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam (the Sufi lineages appointed yoga when Islam came to India) and of course not forgetting Christianity. It is a psycho-physical practice, a system that uses mind-body connection. It is the mind-body connection that is central to this ritual. It is the integration, the connection that happens through yoga that makes it such a necessary ritual.
Why do we partake in ritual?
We partake in ritual to enable us to connect with the deepest parts of ourselves. Our inner-most self is the most fundamental part of our awareness of being. We are all the same!
It is somewhat ironic that something so sacred as ritual help us recognise that the fundamental sense of aliveness or being that is yours is not personal or unique to you at all!
Yet, in the same breath, ritual provides us with the agency to acknowledge we have choices in our lives and a potential to transform, unfold and adapt.
I have talked about this many times over the years, but one of the things I love most about the human brain is that we have the capacity for self-reflection. In the Sanskrit this is vimarsha…. awareness touching itself and then folding back on itself. Ritual provides us with the space physically, emotionally, mentally to process, heal and to reflect back. Ritual creates intentional space that takes us out of the mindlessness of the everyday into the mindfulness and heartfulness of living a life deeply connected to our essence nature, the simplest part of yourself.
So perhaps for you as we draw toward the chaos of the festive season ritual is simply about creating space for yourself to connect to your essence nature.
Remember that the space of awareness doesn’t react. Awareness allows things to fall into an open space. Let your rituals come into the open space of awareness and suspend reactivity. It is easier than you think. In fact, there is the thing, don't think about it.
And then repeat. Ritual is about repetition. The repetition needed to rewire our brains and transform our emotional body.
Sometimes my rituals are as simple as looking a the coloured leaves on the trees around me and just whispering the colours out loud, sometimes my rituals involve creating an altar and pulling cards, always my rituals are in silence or supported by intentionally chosen music.
I would love to hear about your rituals and how you create space for them over these coming weeks. See you if you can find the sacred in the everyday.