Ritual Practices for Reconnection

Create daily, weekly, and yearly ritual practices to rebalance your body, connect with your environment, and appreciate the seasons in a mindful way.

| September / October 2018

  • Fall is a season of change and reflection, and you can experience this through mindful rituals infused into your daily life.
    Photo by Adobe/©kichigin19
  • Rituals can creatively evolve to meet our changing needs and those of the world around us, and this flexibility is one of the traits that makes the practice meaningful.
    Photo by iStockphoto/topotishka
  • Practice a ritual before eating, such as a prayer, a moment of silence, or lighting a candle, to make each mealtime meaningful.
    Stocksy/Studio Firma
  • Seasonal rituals, such as building a table altar, mindfully welcome the new season and bring the connection to nature into your home.
    Photo by Brittany Wood Nickerson
  • Water is associated with fall; thus, a seasonal ritual of visiting and giving thanks at a body of water can connect you with nature, as well as the friends and family who may join you.
    Photo by Adobe/Alena Ozerova
  • The components of a seasonal table altar may include branch clippings,fallen leaves, seeds, or stones.
    Photo by Brittany Wood Nickerson
  • Laying on the floor with your legs on the wall is a simple ritual you can practice to relax before bed.
    Photo by Adobe/AYAimages

The herbal apprenticeship programs that I teach each include an important ritual halfway through the course. As a group, we revisit the intentions we set for ourselves on the first day of class and reflect on what we’ve learned so far. It’s a practice that offers valuable perspective, and a grounding opportunity for people to connect with their personal processes, as well as the experience of the larger group. These are some of the gifts of ritual — a tool or practice that can offer perspective, help support reflection and intention in our lives, and foster connection.

Experiences such as this one, as well as years of working with clients, have shown me how the addition of self-care rituals in daily life can facilitate deep healing and lasting change. Thus, I created a new apprenticeship program, such as those in 21 Ayurvedic Practices for Transitioning into Autumn where we further explore these ideas.

Creating ritual is one of the most powerful ways to craft a new way of life, and it can be done on a daily, weekly, or yearly basis. Once you understand what makes a ritual, explore how it can be personalized and incorporated into your life to meet your individual needs.

Recognizing Rituals

A ritual is any act performed with intention. The word traditionally implies that the act is performed in a specific, prescribed way, outlined by custom or religious practice. Therefore, if you’re taking part in a traditional ritual, it’s important to respect the practices of that tradition. Otherwise, we can be more fluid than this definition and see a ritual as anything done with intention, performed the same or similarly over time. At their core, rituals help us feel that our lives are meaningful and that we’re connected to ourselves, to others, to the larger processes that feed and nourish us, and to the ecosystems (both natural and mechanized) that make up our world.

Some rituals may feel like routine — which doesn’t make them any less important or healing — while others may feel like exciting special occasions. Rituals can range from daily acts of self-care, such as bathing or mindful mealtimes, to family traditions, including seasonal holiday celebrations. Rituals around exercise, meals, and other forms of self-care ground us and create a stabilizing influence in daily life. Other rituals that mark coming-of-age, menopause, or childbirth help us feel supported, held by family and community, and more powerful within ourselves. Any ritual practice can be life-changing, because ritual helps us direct our intention, and our intentions can have a powerful impact.

Rituals can creatively evolve to meet our changing needs and those of the world around us, and this flexibility is one of the traits that makes the practice meaningful. For example, you may choose to mark each new season with a gathering of family or friends. Celebrating the seasonal shift becomes a ritual, yet the celebration for each season may be very different: a bonfire on the winter solstice, or a hike on the spring equinox, for example.

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