How to build a spiritual practice.
Rituals are already part of your life whether you know it or not. Anything you do that's a comforting habit can be part of a ritual because the whole point of a ritual is to transcend the mundane and, essentially, just feel better already.
Right now, the rituals that most of us are familiar with include taking a long, hot bath after a hard day and then binge-watching Netflix with your favorite drink in hand.
It's normal to include friends in rituals too. For example, those mission-critical hangouts with our closest friends for relationship counseling must happen regularly; otherwise, we might lose our minds completely. How would you know if your newest acquaintance is the "just-for-now boy," a narcissistic waste of time or a promising Mr. Maybe-Right-One-Day without the observations of your fellow "summit members?"
The bottom line is that rituals are already part of your psyche, even the angry ones where you burn the diary of love letters you wrote about your ex before they dumped you for no good reason. Anyone can and should perform rituals. Most importantly, you don't need any religious reason to create your own ritual either. Let's talk more about why:
What are the benefits of rituals?
- You can use a ritual to help declutter your mental confusion and open your mind up to new sources of guidance.
- Spiritually focused rituals help you feel more connected to your spirit, your goals or your higher self throughout the day.
- Rituals help us reflect on ourselves and connect with our families, friends or community in a more-meaningful way.
- Performing a ritual right before or after a big event in our lives helps inspire us to make lasting changes.
Did you know that rituals have real, scientific benefits as well?
A team of psychologists found that rituals can dramatically alter your thoughts, behaviors and feelings, especially when you're going through major life changes. For example, it's common for many people to recover from the grief of losing a loved one with a ritual. When they compared those who used rituals to manage grief versus those who did not, they found that the rituals actually helped people feel much less depressed about their loss.
Even if the only ritual you do is writing in a diary every day about whatever pops into your head, this simple act does wonders for your mental health. Studies have shown that starting a relationship with your diary helps you fight anxiety, clarify your goals, organize your thoughts, identify problems, let go of emotions and become more creative. As a result, you will feel a lot less stress and anxiety than if you kept everything bottled up inside like a ticking time bomb.
Now let's talk about how to make your own, more-inspiring rituals than the ones you already have.
Here's how to boost your spirits with more positive energy by attracting higher vibrations:
To get more concentration, creativity and productivity in life, it's important to raise your energy and reach a more-elevated state of mind. If you focus only on the problems, then you'll sink into depression because you will see nothing but more problems everywhere you turn. That's why having the right intention for your ritual matters so much: It allows you to empower yourself!
Pick a goal that excites you and create your ritual based on using objects or practices that help you focus on your goal instead of the obstacles. Do this by choosing meaningful symbols. For instance, let's say that the goal of your ritual is to feel peaceful in all circumstances. You could keep a photo of someone who's doing that as a focal point for your ritual, like the Dalai Lama. Even after everything that invaders have done to his country, to him and to his people, he still keeps a smile on his face and doesn't speak about revenge, does he? You could look at his bright face in the photo while reading some of his famous quotes and meditate on them as part of your ritual for cultivating inner peace.
What are the best ingredients to start your ritual with?
1.Pick a pure sound that gets you into the right state of mind.
If your leanings are more Zen-like, then you might love a singing bowl. It makes one clear tone like a bell that doesn't sound like it has a beginning or end when you play it on your lap. This sound tunes out disturbing background noises you may have very well. Plus, you can feel the pure vibrations of the sound reverberating through your body when you hold it, making it easy to meditate on the sound alone.
- Light a candle.
Few things create a soft ambiance and promote inward focus more than gentle candlelight. Before you pray or meditate, light a scented candle to remind yourself of your inner light. Remember that there are no rules about how to pray too. A prayer is a conversation you have with your higher self, the universe or God, and the answers can come from anywhere at anytime. Use a candle and prayer in a ritual for manifesting your desires by visualizing that you have what you want already. Now what would your future self who has it already tell you to do today to get closer to fulfilling your desire?
- Hold a natural crystal.
Healers traditionally believe from their experiences that quartz and other crystals amplify energy to raise your vibration and assist in manifesting your intention or goals. Before and after using crystals, rinse them in running water or soak them in salt water to purify them of any stagnant energy they've picked up from others. Then you can either sit comfortably and hold the crystal in your hand while meditating or lie down and put the crystal on top of your heart if you need to relax more. Just breathing deeply while keeping a crystal near your heart will give you a deep sense of calmness.
- Put on some uplifting music.
Make no mistake about it; music can be medicine if you use it well. Even scientists observed how hearing certain songs alter your brain waves dramatically. Nature Neuroscience published a study on how the right music raises your brain's dopamine levels, especially songs like these 10 popular ones.
- Adorn yourself with essential oils.
We have at least a million and one reasons why we love essential oils, and they should be in every lady's first-aid "feel-better" kit for their mood-altering properties. Choose your favorite oils to promote meditation, purification, protection, healing and happiness. We love putting a few drops of lavender, rose, jasmine or lemon into a diffuser or into a bottle of carrier oil for giving yourself a well-deserved foot massage.
- Contemplate on meaningful statues or symbols.
Your mind is like a sponge. It soaks up whatever you feed it with, and images especially can have a great impact on your mind. That's why reflecting on any image that displays the traits you want to cultivate in yourself is a transformative practice. If this idea stumps you, then you can start with going outside to a place where you can be alone and watch the sun setting, preferably from a tall building. The longer you observe it, the more you can't help but feel inspired, expansive or wonderstruck at the magnitude of it.
- Journal to start a powerful conversation with your higher self.
Writing down anything that comes into your head becomes more enlightening when you have a higher purpose for doing it. To give you some ideas, try this exercise after you've set up your ritual space. Start with imagining a golden light coming down into your head and illuminating your whole body. Feel your spirit expand with divinity and unconditional love.
After at least five minutes of this visualization, write down this heading at the top of your journal page:
"If I could see my life's purpose right now ... "
Answer it by writing down anything you feel. When you run out of things to write, then go back and read what you wrote. Ask yourself why this idea is part of your purpose to get more ideas to keep writing. You can have lots of purposes that can have a common theme or several themes. Have fun with it. When you can write something that makes you feel something special, then you've reached an important point to focus on.
To use journaling in a ritual for guidance, you can also write down any burning question you have in your journal and then use divination tools like a Tarot deck or runes to ask the universe for answers. Write down all the possible answers that come into your head when you study the symbol of your answer.
Alternatively, you can even write down one thing in your life that you love in your journal. Now imagine what your life would be like without it and write about that. Contemplate how valuable it is to you, and developing this feeling of appreciation will give you new eyes to see the world with.
8.Develop one-pointed concentration with mindfulness meditation.
Embrace nature with awareness like this:
If your mind is really restless, you can begin with practicing walking meditation to create mindfulness. Do this exercise outside to get the extra benefits of fresh air too. The goal is to bring full awareness into each step. Count each step until you reach 20, looking down at your feet. Now start over and slow down so that it takes you twice as long to reach 20 steps. Eventually you should take each step so carefully that it's more like gliding than walking. When you've reached your slowest walking pace, inhale with one step, exhale with the next step and repeat.
Use affirmations with meditation like this:
When you're so calm that this exercise is no longer a challenge for you, then sit down with your back straight in a relaxed posture. Close your eyes. Watch your breath. Nothing else matters. Count your breaths as they happen without forcing anything. Gradually let the breathing come from your belly to relax you more. You are just accepting whatever happens. When your breath is very slow, repeat the affirmation of your choice mentally with each breath. Think something positive, like "I have access to everything I need." Do this practice as long as you like, but you should increase it gradually. Don't try to do it for more than 10 minutes or so at first because your body will get too restless if you force it to sit still for too long too soon.
Take a look at how we can put it all together
If you wanted to create a writing ritual, then you could start by closing your eyes and asking for guidance in a prayer. Light your candle and state your affirmation. Put on the right music to match your affirmation and begin writing. When you hit a block, close you eyes and inhale your favorite essential oil straight from the bottle. Then massage yourself with the oil. Keep writing, asking a divination tool for guidance if you need it. Than thank the universe when you finish. Always remember to release the outcome because what really matters is the attitude with which we do the ritual. The effects of it can take many forms that we cannot control and don't need to.
About the Author: Suzanne Leopold started Living Mavens in 2016 to share some of the products and techniques that help her focus inward and transform her life. With over 15 years of exploring energy and manifesting modalities, she is passionate about creating a life she loves and sharing her discoveries with others. To learn more on how to consciously create a life you love, go to www.livingmavens.com