Align your life with natural rhythms
Humans used to live according to the rhythms of the Earth. They woke with the sun and wound down with nightfall. They holed up during the winter to stay warm and rejuvenate their body and spirit. What kind of basic rituals could you perform to realign your body, gain clarity in your mind and rejuvenate your soul?
Why You Need Ritual
You don’t have to be religious to take part in a ritual. In fact, you participate in rituals every day, even if you’re not aware of it. You brush your teeth before you go to bed, kiss your spouse before you leave the house and grab the mail when you come home.
You might not consider these actions to be rituals. However, they give order to your life, have a calming effect and help you maintain normalcy even in times of chaos. Daily routines can be transformed into meaningful rituals when you add intention to them, according to experts.
People develop rituals for the following three reasons:
- Superstition, such as knocking on wood to prevent something bad from happening
- To reduce negative feelings after something distressing has happened
- To heighten your emotions when you’re involved with a positive experience
Rituals increase involvement with your emotions or with an experience. They can help you feel more deeply and experience things more intensely. When you don’t want to feel the grief that comes from a negative experience, such as the loss of a loved one, rituals can help you process your emotions and regain a feeling of control. Rituals for balance help us stay grounded as life changes.
Taking part in rituals with the change of the seasons helps you establish a balance with a world that’s continually fluctuating. Rituals allow you to:
- Deal with change
- Cope with stress
- Reduce anxiety
- Connect with the sacred
- Solidify your sense of purpose
- Connect the dots to your goals
Moving from summer to fall can be especially difficult. You’re switching from an energetic period that is marked by sunlight, warmth and abundance. If you don’t prepare yourself for the cooler weather and darker days, you might be surprised by how stark and empty you feel.
Taking the time to stop the commotion of your daily life and engage in a seasonal ritual can help you realign your body and flow with the shift instead of putting up blocks against it.
Examples of Ancient Seasonal Rituals
Even though the idea of developing a ritual may sound enticing to you, you might wonder where to start. These have their roots in ancient practices but are easy enough to incorporate into your busy lifestyle.
- Bring Nature Indoors
Welcoming nature is one way to celebrate the change of seasons. Creating a space in your home to celebrate the shifting outdoor environment is an easy way to develop a ritual. This can be an altar, a spot on a bookshelf or a corner of a desk.
Bringing pieces of nature into this sacred space can infuse your atmosphere with the energy of the new season. This period will be part of your everyday life. Therefore, incorporating aspects of it into your daily routine can warm you up to the idea of change.
Simply seeing the altar as you walk by it every day can ritualize the seasonal transition. Taking a moment to sit with it, take in its energy and give thanks allows you to deepen the ritual. Rituals for balance, such as guided meditation to ground yourself with the earth, can be done at the altar.
- Focus on a Self-Care Ritual
It’s easy to feel vigorous and healthy when you’re getting vitamin D from the sun and plenty of fresh air. As the days grow shorter, you spend more time indoors and your coworkers start spreading viruses around, you might feel like you need some extra TLC.
Many people ignore the value of self-care. Instead of listening to their bodies, they plug along and try to get more done in less time. They don’t stop to consider how productive they could be if they stepped away to tend to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Although the vacation-like feeling of summer is over, you shouldn’t go at full speed without giving yourself breaks. Establishing a self-care ritual, whether it’s taking a daily bath with candles or massaging your body with lotion every night, can help you feel invigorated even as you move toward winter.
Nature is winding down during the fall. You can take the time to do the same.
- Practice Gratitude
It seems as though almost everyone is talking about gratitude these days. Perhaps your favorite blogger writes in a gratitude journal. Maybe you hear about gratitude rituals on your favorite podcast. It’s not a new concept. Ancient cultures often gave thanks during seasonal rituals.
Research shows that practicing gratitude can be good for your health. This practice can:
- Reduce blood pressure
- Improve sleep
- Strengthen immunity
As you move into cold and flu season, developing a gratitude practice may do more than put you in a good mood; it might help you ward off germs.
An easy way to develop a gratitude ritual is to write down one to three things that you’re grateful for every time you wake up or go to sleep. Doing it before you go about your day gives you something positive to focus on. Being thankful before you go to sleep helps your brain assimilate the information while it’s resting and healing. Try it both ways to determine which works the best for you.
The Mindset for Performing a Seasonal Ritual
Activities that ancient cultures have performed for hundreds of years are rituals for them, but the first time you perform a seasonal ritual, you might have to work through its novelty before you experience its benefits. People have different perceptions of the effectiveness of rituals, depending on the complexity and repetition or the actions. A seasonal ritual will hold more meaning as you continue to practice it.
Some rituals that are fabricated on the spot and have no symbolism for the person enacting them can still be effective for increasing performance and reducing anxiety. That’s why you might feel off if you go to bed without brushing your teeth. Even though the activity has no deeper meaning, it structures your day, and you feel like something is missing if you don’t do it.
You can deepen the effectiveness of a ritual by giving it meaning, though. Setting an intention for the ritual can help merge it with your own goals and aspirations, giving you more clarity and opens up your intuition.
When you’re completely present during a ritual, you’re able to maintain focus despite fleeting thoughts about what to make for dinner and anxiety about how many bills you have to pay. Getting comfortable with this type of mindfulness strengthens your ability to manage stress.
But engaging in a ritual to reduce anxiety or improve your health won’t be very effective if you’re simply concentrating on the desired outcome. You’ll lose out on mindfulness. When you’re not present with the process, you lose out on the experience.
If you can find your grounded center during a ritual, you can access it when life feels chaotic. This can be crucial for dealing with the changes that a seasonal transition brings.
Similar to offering gratitude, rituals that celebrate life help you unite with the vibration of a higher energy. They also help you reconnect with the greater world and remember that your purpose, whatever it is, is important.
Scholars say that rituals help people feel a sense of belonging. They’re continually reinvented to address the needs of the current social and emotional environment. If you celebrate life during your rituals, you’ll continue to feel like you’re in the right place in your own life.
If you have given meaning to your seasonal rituals and infused them with an intention instead of a goal, you can enjoy the progression as you take part in the journey. Take the time to create new growth at the beginning of this season, and watch it flourish as the year progresses.