Rituals; creating a space for us to feel safe, focused and engaged.
A ritual is something we engage in before or after an activity. It’s a series of tasks which are completed as one, in the same order on every occurrence.
Daily rituals are unique in that they are executed with purpose and intent. When engaging in a ritual, one is usually fully immersed and behaving mindfully. Rituals can help us to feel centered and stabilized.
“The very act of engaging in a scripted sequence of ritualistic movements tricks the brain into thinking that it’s experiencing the pleasant state of predictability and stability”.
When a brain can predict (a certain brain) a human feels safe and happy. Rituals help to aid this predictability.
Rituals can be associated with:
1. Spirituality: bringing love, awareness and intention to our rituals. Turning inwards and reflecting on each step of the task or experience. Meditation or prayer can return balance and calmness. These practices can connect you with something later than yourself.
2. Culture: including the actions or steps taken to celebrate or acknowledge different life events (such as celebrating birth (baptism), holidays (gifting loved ones at Christmas) or weddings (religious formalities).
3. Luck: such as a series of tasks or motions someone might perform before engaging in a sporting match or completing an exam.
4. Wellness and health: creating space to engage in a mindful practice to help increase feelings of joy, compassion and content in addition to sensations of calm and peace.
I thought it would be advantageous to include some interesting findings from various experiments involving rituals and food choices/healthy eating. I’m sharing some of the results below:
* A reduction in calorie intake was seen after participants engaged in a pre-eating ritual (over a 5-day period).
* Another experiment demonstrated that when pairing a ritual with a health eating behaviour increased the likelihood of the participant making healthier food choices.
* Heightened feelings of self-discipline were noted in participants who engaged in rituals.
(Allen Ding Tian; Juliana Schroeder; Gerald Haubl; Jane L Risen; Michael I Norton; Francesca Gina, Enacting rituals to improve self-control, June 2018. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29771567/)
How to create new rituals:
1) Discover what you want: understanding your values, what motivates you, where positive change is required.
2) Commit to action the ‘next steps’: setting realistic goals to create space and opportunity to engage in positive change.
3) Make it a habit: turning positive intention and action into a ritual practice. Adopting self-compassion is key when creating new ritual practices - be kind, be patient, be realistic.
Take a moment to reflect and acknowledge the foundations you’ve already established. Are there certain ‘non negotiables’ you engage in? That morning matcha or latte, a walk before work, checking in with your bestie or family member during your lunch break, having a digital detox for 2 hours after work, journaling before bed?
Whatever you are already doing, stop for a moment and tune inwards. Notice how these activities make you feel and bring your full awareness towards them.
Types of rituals to set to assist with wellness:
- Creating intentions: to set yourself up for the day, with a positive mindset
- Pledges of gratitude or positive affirmations: to assist in breaking cycles of negative thinking or spiraling
- Breathing exercise: to assist in calming your mind before engaging in an activity or task which requires focus and attention
- Get up and stretch: between challenging or draining tasks (whether they are cognitive or physical in nature), to help boost energy levels, in addition to improving productivity and focus
- Engaging in a mindful experience: such as enjoying a cup of herbal tea, to immerse yourself in a pleasurable and calm experience utilising all your senses, with full awareness, to help ground and centre you after a busy day
- Engaging in a body scan before bed: to notice any bodily tension or tightness and/or to offload overwhelming thoughts. This can help to prepare the body and mind for sleep
“A daily routine or ritual is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind and consciousness”. (Kathy Jo Staheli, AD.)
Until next time... Yours in wellness,