Discovering Rituals that Serve Me

I love rituals. From mindfully preparing my food, to afternoon tea, to following the seasons as I work in my backyard garden, my life is full of these little ceremonies. A ritual is defined as an observance or practice that is performed the same way each time. Truthfully, we all practice daily rituals such as brushing our teeth, taking our vitamins, or fixing our hair.

So it was a challenge when my activity from the Love Your Life in 30 Days course instructed me to choose a new ritual to perform, daily, in the upcoming days and weeks.

After much thought, I could not come up with a totally new ritual, so often do I perform ceremonies around my various activities. I chose to group together several rituals that I enjoy, and create instead a different bedtime routine.

It is important that my new ceremony be easy to prepare and relatively brief…10 minutes or less. I performed a trial run this evening of my new nighttime ritual, and of course, I captured the moments in photos.

I chose my bedroom for this pre-bedtime routine, lighting eight candles to soften the room and relax my mind and body.

Burning dried herbs is a key part of several of my favorite rituals. I love the fragrance that wafts through the room and the smoke that curls toward the ceiling. It seemed natural to include this practice.

I prepared a hot drink to soothe me toward sleep. Tonight’s choice was a health packed apple cider flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, ginger, cloves and cranberries. Every evening, as I prepare for slumber, I will jot down five things from the day that I am grateful for. My grandson Jonathan gave me a personalized journal for Christmas, that is perfect for writing my gratitude in.

Jonathan included a cute giraffe bookmark as well. Expressing gratitude daily focuses my attention on the best parts of my day, expanding my heart and filling it with quiet joy. And it prepares me for the final segment of my ceremony.

I concluded the ritual with five minutes or so of meditation, closing my eyes, relaxing my body, and focusing on my breathing. Long slow inhale of breath…hold for a few seconds…slow exhale of breath…pause…repeat. I love how quickly this simple meditation centers me, slowing my heart rate and releasing muscle tension.

As I finished the meditation, I visualized my bright and shiny future, full of travel adventures, writing, abundance, optimal health, love and creativity, without delving into the details, or burdening myself with the hows and whens. I just allowed joy and gratitude to bubble up, and flow outward.

It has taken me longer to write about my ritual, than it did to experience it! This is a very doable ceremony that brings my focus to the present moment and allows me to express gratitude. There is a sacredness in ending my day in this way. Sacred implies holy, set apart, and that is precisely the underlying feeling that I intend. Every action lends itself to reflection and relaxation and the releasing of joyful appreciation, making this time very much like a prayer, or an offering of my heart and soul, to my Source.

I look forward to seeing how this nightly practice impacts my sleep…and my life.