I’ve chosen ritual as the fall theme. This season offers an abundance of holidays which entail ceremonial ritual, both religious and secular. Ritual is the performance of a specific sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects. A feature of all known human societies, ritual has been integral to the traditions of every culture for millennia. Ritual celebrates beginnings and endings, and prompts us to give tribute to people and events. Most importantly, it brings us together as community to rejoice and mourn as well as to pause and reflect.
“Ritual is, therefore, a primary site of contact between self and society, a place where our individual selves are transformed into collective selves.”
— Mark Pedelty
Purpose: Ritual gives meaning to both the sacred and mundane. It is a way to honor the sanctity and mysteries of life. Similarly, we can find comfort in the routine, or ritual, of daily life. It creates cohesiveness and provides an anchor we count on, despite challenges we face. Moreover, we can think of it as a safety net, especially when we’re experiencing emotional upheaval.
“When tea becomes a ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment.”
Benefits: Research reveals the many benefits of ritual, both physiologically and psychologically. When we act in a specific way with intention, we:
- Promote resilience and calm. Ritual asks us to be mindful; we have to focus. This gives meaning to each ceremonial action. When we re-direct our thoughts, we release our personal turmoil.
- Create good habits. Ritual can help us replace bad habits with good ones. With conscious and focused intention, we can let go of habits detrimental to our bodies and psyches.
- Celebrate and rejoice. Ritual allows us to express ourselves creatively and artistically. We experience joy through food, drink, story, song, and dance.
- Find closure and heal. Ritual is a way to face that which is no longer, whether it be the end of a relationship or the passing of a loved one. We can then truly heal and move on.
“Exercise, prayer, and meditation are examples of calming rituals. They have been shown to induce a happier mood and provide a positive pathway through life’s daily frustrations.” — Chuck Norris
Practice: There is a wealth of societal, cultural and religious ritual available to us throughout the year. We can pick and choose to participate according to our beliefs and personal traditions. Regardless, we all practice ritual daily in the form of routine. Individual ritual can be as powerful as group gatherings. We can increase the benefits of our personal practices through gratitude and awareness. Here are some ways to enhance our daily routines:
- Bring mindfulness to all you do. Focus on each step of your activity. You can imagine all your chores in a symbolic way. For example, as you bathe and wash things, you’re cleansing your mind and spirit as well.
- Pause and reflect. Make a habit of slowing down. Establish a ritual of stillness and silence, throughout your day. It can be as brief as a minute, or less. This gives you a mental and physical break and time to check in with yourself energetically.
- Get up. Get out. Stretch and breathe. Break up your day with movement and the awareness of your breathing. Treat your yoga practices and fitness routines with reverence. Our bodies are sacred vehicles for the Divine.
- Recite mantra, prayer and affirmation at any opportunity. Positive thoughts and focused intention are essential for all accomplishments. They keep us on course and help override negative emotions which serve no purpose other than to keep us stuck in old patterns and exhaust us. Mantras raise our vibration and empower us.
“Rituals, anthropologists will tell us, are about transformation. The rituals we use for marriage, baptism or inaugurating a president are as elaborate as they are because we associate the ritual with a major life passage, the crossing of a critical threshold, or in other words, with transformation.” — Abraham Verghese
In closing, suffice it to say ritual adds to the quality of our lives and serves us on all levels: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Ritual connects us to the intangible and mystical while grounding us in present-time reality. Whether you participate in group ritual, or make up your own, experience the joy of it regularly, and as often as you like.
Fall Scent: Eucalyptus Oil. Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia, but are now found throughout the world. The medicinal properties of this tree are legion. This healing power comes from eucalyptus oil, which come from the tree’s oval-shaped leaves. An ingredient in many over-the-counter medications, it has long been known as a cure for respiratory issues and to aid oral hygiene. It has also been found to be an effective insect repellant, a disinfectant for wounds, to help cure cold sores, control blood sugar, treat dry skin, reduce pain and promote relaxation.
Additionally, Eucalyptus tea, made from the tree’s dried leaves, is believed to be a great source of antioxidants. This is a must-have oil to have on hand for the final quarter of our year, as we enter our ubiquitous “cold and flu season.” For more information, how to use, and to order I recommend dōTERRA and Young Living products.
Suggested Reading: The Art of Ritual: Creating and Performing Ceremonies for Growth and Change by Renee Beck and Sydney Barbara Metrick
Images: Courtesy of pexels.com/freephoto stock source.