Develop a Personal Ritual Practice•
As a freedom-loving soul, I never quite have a rhythm that aligns with others. Coupled with a partner who works shift work, I can feel like I don’t belong or understand the nuances that the Monday to Friday lifestyle provides. This leaves me feeling like I straddle or dance between two worlds.
A couple of friends told me how they admired my ritualistic tendencies. Truthfully, this came as a bit of a shock. Hearing this feedback from the people whom I value and trust, got me thinking. It permitted me to recognize all the ways I practice ritual. As women we have unique rhythms; the one’s intrinsically linked to our menstrual cycle. How our individual ebb and flow can be reflected back to us from the moon, the tides, and the women who cycle alongside us.
This led me to further contemplate the ways in which we can cultivate awareness of our own unique rhythms as an act of devotion, thus harnessing them to find moments of peace, surrender, empowerment, wisdom, and joy.
Below I share five steps to assist you with developing a personal ritual practice. Personally, many of my personal rituals align with the moon cycle and the seasons. I also have some daily rituals that I tend to dip in and out of as needed. Some are simplistic and some are more complex. This is the process I use for establishing new rituals and deepening my current practices.
1. Define Your Intention
The first step in developing a personal ritual practice is outlining what your intention is behind it.
What do you hope this practice will bring you or afford you?
Often times, especially for women, it’s the space to invest wholly in ourselves. To carve out a few moments of peace to convene with our wise mystical inner guidance. It’s our opportunity to breathe, to truly exhale, to settle into ourselves, and make time for that which is important to and for US. It is defining that which we are committed to devoting ourselves to. It is the guidepost that gives us focus to take the steps to fill our cup.
Your intention can be simple or complex. If you are new to ritual practice, I recommend starting simple to gain traction and then moving onto more complex or layered rituals over time as you become established.
2. Get Practical
Once you have defined what your intention is for cultivating this practice, you can move onto the practicalities. How much time would you like to dedicate and more importantly how much time can you realistically dedicate?
In order to get the most out of your practice, it’s important to make your ritual practice doable. We can often have skewed expectations and think we need to commit a lot of time or that we need to invest in a whole slew of materials to ready ourselves. This is procrastination tugging at us, trying to distract us from the task at hand.
Consider the long term, contemplate the sustainability of your practice, and how that translates to the ebb and flow of life throughout the year. Can you do five minutes a day or would it be best to set aside an hour a week?
Connect with your intention and remember that this is personal. This practice is meant to support you, not become another thing on the never-ending to-do list.
Done is far better than trying to get it perfect and never getting past thinking about it.
3. Consistency is Key
Ritual is a practice, so it takes repeated action and doing. I recommend dedicating an entire lunar cycle or season to developing a new ritual practice. Consistency is key and establishing a routine takes commitment.
Once you have hashed out some of the logistics, it’s time to fine-tune them. Are you wanting to establish something a few times a week, weekly, biweekly, or monthly? Would your practice be best done at night, in the morning, or does the time of day matter? As you dig in, are your expectations from step 2 still realistic? This is the time to make adjustments.
Chart out your designated times in your calendar and then sit with how that feels in your body before diving in further. This will help you gain clarity on what is realistic for you and allow you to make some tweaks before getting started. If you are feeling tightness in your chest or gut, maybe it’s too far of a stretch. When you feel warmth, ease, comfort, and excitement when you see it all mapped out, know you are on the right track.
Start small, gain momentum, and then expand after your routine is well established. Planning and preparing will eliminate overwhelm; you are worthy of investment, support, and success.
4. Be Accountable
This is where procrastination can derail us. Where the best of intentions never move from a thought into measured action. It is important to have some sort of checkpoint or parameter in place that will remind you of your commitment to yourself.
Are you someone who needs accountability to thrive or are you independently action-orientated?
Buddy up with a friend to check-in and hold one another accountable. Be clear on what your needs are and the expectations from the start. Is this a quick text, email, or phone call? Would you rather meet for coffee once a month? Keep it simple, set a deadline, and stick to it.
If you prefer to work alone, have a system in place to ensure consistency. This might be a simple notification scheduled into your phone, jotting down a note in your day planner, or writing in a fun colored pen on your wall calendar.
5. Devotion Leads to Flexibility
Last year, I was fairly committed to doing morning pages. My ritual included only doing them upon waking and that I HAD to write three pages. If I scrolled my phone first or made coffee first, it somehow tainted the experience. I dedicated myself to doing them 4-5 days per week, which meant I was up before 6 am most days. Some days were harder than others, sometimes I didn’t want to do it but I always felt better after I did. This was me being consistent and accountable. My commitment allowed me to be 100% invested.
I believe that because of my initial dedication, I now have the freedom to dip in and out as needed. I no longer do them as often and I allow myself to be flexible in fitting them in where I can throughout my days and weeks. Morning pages are there for me when I really need to hash out challenges, gain clarity on situations, or just do a brain dump.
My moon rituals are steadfast. They are the rituals that I tend to regularly without wavering. I have been doing some form of ritual with the lunar cycle consistently for close to 10 years.
When we get into the predictability of preparing and settling ourselves to perform a ritual, it becomes ingrained. Once our actions are well established, the core of the ritual comes with more ease. That is the reward of ritual. It permits us access to the ethers and nourishes our spirit.
Our commitment and dedication is what hones and refines the practice, which then allows us to become more flexible as we progress. That’s all ritual truly is, a practice and an act of devotion. One where we show up again and again as our messy selves, settling into a routine that suits us best.
If you decide to work with the lunar cycle, either biweekly or monthly, I recommend committing to at least six months. This will permit you to recognize patterns and give you a body of work in which to look back on for deeper insight, wisdom, and understanding.
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