It’s really easy to get caught up in life.
Trust me, I understand. A glimpse into my private life:
- my day-job workday starts at 5:30am and I’m home around 5pm;
- my evenings and weekends are devoted to my Spider, our loved ones and their health, and my own;
- all the time in between and every spare moment is spent on Midnight Naturals;
- sleep happens randomly;
- unpleasant surprises that demand immediate attention happen often;
A lot of times my week flies by and I barely know how I got there. A good chunk of my health problems stem from adrenal fatigue and chronic stress.
You read about how if you can’t get rid of stress (i.e., life) then mindfulness and meditation are great ways to help yourself cope. But the first thought that pops into your head:
-I’ll have time for mindfulness just as soon as I am done trying to keep my life from falling apart.-
I know I am not the only one that lives like this. And the thought process feels justified. I mean, come on, how can you “stop to smell the roses” when rent is due tomorrow. Except… that thought process is not helping you either, is it?
We strive for meaning and depth in our lives but look for the perfect moment or perfect surroundings to experience it. Until then, the rest of our time is spent doing other things just to keep the wheels on the proverbial bus of our lives. But it’s like that quote “Life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans”. Scheduling stress relief became stressful. “Being present” while running chores just feels like thinking about my to-do list while doing it.
If this sounds like something you identify with, read on. Perhaps the same perspective shift that rescued me can help you as well.
Rituals are often associated with religions these days. But there is an anthropological definition that looks at rituals as specific set of actions we do with intentional symbolic meaning for a specific purpose (usually, for a cultural purpose, like a wedding).
We, both males and females, have moved away from rituals and rites of passage and treat activities that used to be sacred as mundane chores. Cleansing our bodies and adorning ourselves with sacred art and ornaments have turned into grabbing a shower and slapping on some makeup and running out the door. Rites of passage have taken on a materialistic tone: you get a car at 16, the perfect wedding dress, a limo for prom.
But rituals, in the ways our ancestors performed them, help us focus on the meaning of what we are doing, how we are doing, and why. If we take a step back and indulge in the rituals of our daily life as just that, rituals, we elevate them beyond just menial tasks and chores. They become a much more important part of our lives and an opportunity for meaning in everything we do.
So, what does this mean practically?
Ritualize your every “chore”.
Here is something to try:
- When you are taking a shower, use a special soap that smells amazing to you. Imagine all the worries and cares of the day like dirt on top of your skin and your shower washes it all away. If you are particularly sensitive (perhaps an empath?), imagine other people’s emotions and thoughts like a cloud of dust around you and your shower like a cleansing summer rain washing away all pollution. Finish off by anointing yourself with oils; use a moisturizer that heals your skin and whose scent energizes or relaxes you.
- When you are putting on makeup, understand that you are expressing yourself with external art. Light a candle and fill your space with a lovely scent. Paint your face like you were Van Gogh himself or a tribal warrior before a hunt. Choose colors that speak to you and connect you to yourself. Even if you work in a conservative office like I do, throw on a little green when you want lushness, throw on some plums and lavenders when you want to connect to a higher wisdom and mystery. Don’t be afraid of a little drama now and then. The photo above is me playing with dramatic colors on the weekend and even though I’m only running to the pharmacy, I feel proud of my art and connected to myself.
- As a side-note: I know in the natural community makeup is sometimes frowned upon and often women are accused of “hiding something” with “loads of makeup”. (The “” marks there are supposed to show a bit of contempt for the judgment.) If you do not enjoy makeup and don’t wear much then that’s an expression of yourself and I applaud you. Use the technique above when you put on your lotions, sunscreen and anoint yourself with perfumed oils. The effect is the same! For me, I am artist at heart… and sometimes I choose my face and body as my canvas. If you have a creative soul and want to adorn yourself as a form of expression, don’t let anyone shame you into not doing it!
- When you have to vacuum and sweep the floor, see the build up of negative energy being sucked away and swept out your home so you are left with clean energy and pure light. Mist the room with a natural scent. Are you seeing a trend? Smell is incredibly important. It’s why holy places from most religions and spiritual practices use incense of one form or another.
- Sitting in traffic is a great time to listen to music, youtube (listen! NOT watch!), podcasts, audiobooks, etc that inspire you and represent what you WANT in your life. While your mind and eyes are paying attention to the road, let your heart wander to where you want to be.
- The popular one: when you are cooking, imagine the goodness, nutrition and creativity it takes to make a meal for yourself and loved ones. Pour your love into it and the meal will nourish the spirit as well as the body. I’ll admit that I struggle with this one because I suck at cooking and it stresses me out! But it works when I bake. Most of all, it works when I make my products. I pour love and intent into the process and it feels amazing. I imagine that is what cooking is like for those that aren’t food-challenged 😉
- Having a glass of wine with dinner? Put it in that fancy crystal you only save for special guests and make that random Tuesday night a special moment simply because you can. Light a candle. You’re already there, just make it mean a tiny bit more.
- Ritualize your love as well. If your loved one has had a tough day and his or her body aches, massage those aches away and see your glowing energies intertwine. Same goes for lovemaking, feel the flow of energy you create around one another and the intermingling of your individual energies to create something greater. It might sound new-agey but give it a try. You might be surprised how intense it is.
- Ladies, ritualize your monthly cycle, too. Since we just got a little personal, let’s go a step further and really open up to each other. Please know that your menstruation is not shameful or dirty. Use the cycle as a reminder for self-care and treat your body gently with cottons and wash yourself lovingly with the understanding that this process your body goes through is a powerful symbol of your feminine power. While other times you may need to tap into your masculine energy, this is a time to really feel the female part of yourself. For my PCOS sisters, I know it can be particularly stressful so take that week (or two) as a time to be particularly kind to your body and listen to what it needs. You’re going through it no matter what, might as well let it also be a time when you care for yourself a bit more.
Make every day things mean more.
Find the things you do regularly (whether you want to or not) and turn them into rituals. Tap into the ancient traditions that our societies have built up over a millennia and apply it to our life today. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic, over-the-top caricature of the process. Just really pay attention to what you’re doing and give it a purpose beyond the task itself. Add embellishments, like a candle or a dried flower to remind yourself of what you’re doing and why. Change them with the seasons or your own mood cycles.
One interesting thing that happens along the way: when these regular activities begin to resemble sacred mini-rituals that shape your life, you begin to pay attention to the tools you are using. All of a sudden you’ll want to use tools that fit the ritual: a dab of lavender oil instead of commercial products, real incense instead of febreze, etc. In little ways, you’ll start to shape your life around these rituals. Little things mean more. Time doesn’t fly by unnoticed as much. You make little changes here or there to improve the rituals and it radiates out to other parts of your life.
Like I always say, you don’t have to be perfect with it and there will many days when you forget or don’t have the time. But on the days you do take the things you are already doing and be present for them and enhance them with a sense of purpose, you’ll see the grace, power and beauty already present in your life. And you’ll radiate with it.
Thanks for stopping by and until we meet again, don’t try to be perfect. Just try to be a bit better to yourself and each other.Katerina ☽o☾