A couple of weeks ago while I was in Joshua Tree, I was inspired to create my own ritual to stay connected to the authentic grief I was feeling (instead of armoring up) and the preciousness of this life, remembering that I will die one day and I don’t know when. In the past, I’ve often used the Buddhist “Five Remembrances” which reflect on Impermanence, but I felt that if I created my own, it would be more meaningful.
I won’t go into total detail about my ritual here, but to give you an idea, first I reflect on how all things are alive and have consciousness and I honor that this is why my heart aches when I witness suffering. And I ask that I stay courageous and allow myself to continue loving in this way.
I also keep my impermanence at the top of my mind and I acknowledge all my feelings about the inevitability of my own death. I allow a sadness for this to arise and I’ll offer compassion for myself, remembering that I’m not alone and it’s the nature of being human.
And finally, I ask for the capacity to be grateful that I AM ALIVE. Because no matter what I’m feeling at this moment, it means I’m alive for another day of loving.
Doing this ritual allows me to tap into things that are very potent for me, into values I want to live by. It also offers me a space to cry and soothe myself and to feel connected to life and other beings.
There is such a need for ritual and ceremony these days. In the hustle of modern industrialized life, I believe we still have a profound need for moments of pause, reflection, and connection. And with all the suffering in the world – and the way it can make us feel overwhelmed – ritual can help us get through these moments and heal in ways that no rationalizing or logical approach can come close to.
And listen – doing this doesn’t have to be difficult or require a lot of time and energy. It’s all about intention. This can be as simple as a daily ritual of waking up and setting our intention for the day before we even open our eyes.
Or maybe a self-directed ritual of intention to love tenderly and openly without armor, and to remember the preciousness of this day that we woke up to.
But before we dive more into that, let’s clarify the difference between routines, rituals, and ceremony:
// A “routine” is a regular and habitual series of action or activities, often performed in a specific order. They usually lack a deeper symbolic or ceremonial significance. While they aren’t usually imbued with spiritual meaning, they CAN be based on our intention.
// A “ritual” is a set of actions or activities performed in a prescribed manner, often containing symbolic meaning, cultural significance, or personal intention. There’s often a sense of mindfulness and purpose..
A ceremony will usually involve a series of planned activities, rituals, or symbolic gestures. They’re more elaborate and structured than rituals and often mark significant events, transitions, or celebrations, or blessings, which is why they often have a communal or societal dimension like weddings or rites of passage.
Ceremonies can also be private, like a solo fire ceremony where we let go of things that no longer serve us, or a clearing and letting go of past limiting beliefs as we dive into the ocean under moonlight.
One benefit of daily rituals is that they help us manage our anxiety by providing a sense of control and predictability. Like how some people love their bedtime routine because it calms them before they go to sleep. Or how some have a daily spiritual practice of meditation or prayer.
Rituals can also give us a shared social reality and connection with other people, like people gathering over a holiday with loved ones. And they play a role in cultural identity and preserving traditions.
There is often a touchpoint of interconnectedness and connection to nature in traditional rituals and ceremonies. When we remember to see things this way, we are reminded that we’re not separate from each other or anything else. We’re encouraged to dismantle the artificial separation that modern industrialized life has imposed on us. One way to do this is by incorporating the elements (air, fire, water, earth).
Now, I think an important thing I realized in creating my own ritual was that rituals can serve as catalysts for living with deep intention and creating sacred moments in daily life. For me, it’s a way to bring magic and mystery back into the mundane realities we often have to manage.
For example, sharing a meal can be elevated to a ritual of gratitude and connection. Taking a moment before a meal to express thanks for the beings that are a part of the meal or its creation, the hands that prepared it, and the shared experience of being together can deepen our connection with others and the sacredness of daily life.
So where do we start if we want to bring that ritual and ceremony back into our lives?
We can integrate parts of our tradition and culture that resonate with us and our personal experiences, intuition, and imagination to create rituals that align with our unique contexts and needs. And they don’t have to be complex! At a minimum, a ritual just needs a beginning, middle, and end. That’s it!
We can also adapt rituals and ceremonies to these times. Like how I felt a deep longing to create space for grief in my daily life with everything going on in the world and in my community, and chose to make that a part of my self-created ritual.
You can explore this by asking yourself, “What is unique to this chapter of life for me that can be honored?”
You can also add deeper meaning and intention to a daily routine or task, infusing it with mindfulness and purpose.
Another very relevant idea is to unplug from technology through intentional rituals. This can help us improve mental health as well – I slept TEN HOURS in Joshua Tree with no cell service or anything. I haven’t done that since before my kiddo was born!
If you want to keep it really simple, you can journal or just set aside a time for reflection. Maybe at the beginning or end of the week you can reflect on where you’ve been in and out of alignment in life. Or celebrate 3 places you’ve shown up in the world in a way you are proud of. And if journaling isn’t your thing, you can simply meditate or take a quiet reflective walk.
There are so many other tips that I dive into in the full episode, so be sure to give that a listen for even more ideas.
Whatever you do, I want to emphasize the potential for deep impact that a self-created ritual or ceremony can have – especially as we adapt it to what we need at this moment in time. There is so much suffering in the world, and it can wear us down.
How can ritual and ceremony aid you to decrease unnecessary suffering in your life and bring you more joy and hope?
You will learn:
// Why ritual and ceremony are more important than ever in today’s world
// The difference between routine, ritual, and ceremony
// The importance of self-directed ritual and ceremony
// How to start bringing these into our daily life (without all the baggage of past negative experiences we might have with those words)
// How to bring more magic and mystery into daily life with simple changes
// Episode 9: Impermanence, Death and Other Sexy Things
// Episode 81: The Importance of a Daily Routine
// Episode 110: The Miracle of Being Alive
// Episode 116: The Importance of Rites of Passage
// If incorporating a sense of magic and wonder into your life everyday is something that you really dig the idea of, this is a part of the Adventure Mastermind! Learning how to create ritual and ceremony for your unique needs, dreams, goals, healing, and sense of belonging, connection, and meaning in life. We also engage in our own plant medicine ceremonies and practices and create our own regular practice to stay connected to, and aligned with, what matters most.
Registration is officially open and the November bonuses expire soon, so head on over to AdventureMastermind.com and apply now. We start at the end of January with our first retreat in Hawai’i in February (sunshine, blue water and starry nights, anyone?)
// Want something more self-paced with access to weekly group support and getting coached by yours truly? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out. Plus, we have entire months devoted to wisdom and compassion. Learn more at JoinFreedomSchool.com. I can’t wait to see you there!
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist private group, and tune in every Wednesday as I go live with new inspiration and topics.