What personal rituals are part of your life? A ritual is something, however small, that we consistently engage in for the value it provides. These rituals can be anything from saying a prayer before you go on a journey to eating certain foods on holidays to the special spot where you place your keys when you get home to brushing your teeth every night to planting your garden by the moon signs.
We all have LOTS of personal rituals. Some benefit us; others do not. Rituals become such an ingrained part of our personal ways of being that it is easy to overlook their impact on us unless we occasionally evaluate them. It’s of great importance to examine our rituals as we infuse them with so much meaning that every part of us believes the meaning we give them.
Here’s an example from my life… I have a friend who is a staunch non-believer in astrology. I, on the other hand, grew up with my grandmother, a practicing astrologer who was forever letting our family members know how the movement of the planets might impact our lives, and it become a normal, integrated part of my family story to consider the impact of planetary alignments and birthdates on how life would unfold. My friend challenged me that if astrology is not a valid science (he argues adamantly that it is not) that I am allowing my presupposed notions based on astrological thinking to influence my behavior and my relationship with others. Whether astrology is “real” or not, he was right!
This led me to evaluate the effect astrological thinking was having on me. Was I pre-judging others based on their Zodiac signs? Was I predicting dire outcomes during hot-button astrological events? (Come on, you Mercury retrograde, folks - you know what I am talking about!) Upon deeper consideration I realized that I probably was. So, I worked on it. I cannot say that I totally ignore astrological ideology now. But I have really shifted the level of importance I give those sorts of assumptions and predictions, and, more importantly to me, I have shifted my use of astrological thinking so that I consider ideas from that realm as tools to stimulate my thinking more deeply about personal practices and to lead me to seek value in the symbolic meaning of a planetary movement, rather than allowing myself to slip into judgment or predictions.
Now that we have explored this a little, I ask again, what personal rituals are part of your life? And perhaps, more importantly, how are those rituals impacting you?
If your ritual is to take a walk every morning, chances are good this is very beneficial to you. However, what happens if you miss your walk? Do you feel doomed to poor health and trick yourself into having an awful day? If so, then re-evaluate that ritual, change the meaning behind it, and work toward including this ritual in your life so that it ALWAYS serves you, even when you do not engage in it.
Another way to think about these rituals in our lives is that we can purposefully shape them to support us. The more attention and consideration we give something, the more it impacts us, and again, this is true whether it is positive or negative.
A great example is the coming new year. Many people give it great emphasis as a time to resolve to new practices in life. We’ll hear people, and perhaps even ourselves, say things like, “This is the year that my life is finally going to change!” For other people, they are not as focused on the new calendar year. They may feel the surge of the “new” year in the springtime, on their birthday, when the moon is new, or some other culturally relevant transition. So for each of us the calendar transition to January 1st may or may not feel like a potent time to turn that new leaf into healthier ways, more success, or significant change of any kind. This is the beauty of it— we can CHOOSE to make this an important time in which we will ritually engage in new habits, or we can CHOOSE not to, and not give ourselves a hard time about it!
Personally, I enjoy any opportunity to prompt me to work toward my goals, to inspire me to go even more boldly into the direction I desire! This is partly why I created my Make Successful Life Changes workshop. While I firmly believe we can each pick and choose the rituals and moments in our lives that we give great meaning, I also believe that the collective energy of a group is a POWERFUL energy to harvest! So during this time of year during which there is a huge cultural emphasis on renewal, change, goal setting, and achieving your desires, I get super excited about jumping into that wave and flowing with it.
How do you want your new year's celebration to go this year? Are you ready to let go of expectations that don’t sit well with you and relax into a new tradition of no tradition and really own your need to not set any resolutions? Or are you feeling like you really want to use this time to reflect on the past year, consider the change you want to make, and go boldly into it like never before? Make a decision and stick to it! You only need to be true to yourself. After all, this is about what you give meaning to being important, not what others say must be important to you!
If you do feel connected to making change as the page of the calendar year turns, then I want to help you do it well. Let’s spend the month of January being inspired together, learning about what creates obstacles to change and how to overcome them, getting laser clear on our goals, and having a really good time growing into our best selves! And for those of you sitting out new year’s resolutions, blessings toward releasing what does not serve you and you have my support to develop the tradition that you can give meaning that becomes important to you.
And for us all, may we give more meaning to the value of a world of peace and plenty so that 2016 can bring greater peace and solutions into the lives of every living being. Happy new year!