This is the first in a series of three posts designed to explore rituals and the beneficial role they can play in helping us live happier, healthier lives. The second and third posts will follow (on Wednesday 9/26 and Thursday 9/27).
The Rituals Series
Getting to know rituals
We love to get suggestions from our readers, so when we heard that you wanted to learn a little more about rituals, we were more than happy to help. Today, we’re excited to bring you The Rituals Series—three blog posts focused on what rituals are, and how they can help us all live happier, more balanced lives.
Today, we’ll start with ritual basics. In the upcoming posts, we’ll delve further into how you can create a ritual of your own, and how Cerra’s products are specially designed to help you add rituals to busy, stressful days.
What is a ritual?
We all have different things that come to mind when we hear the word ritual. The traditional definition is that they are a set of actions performed for their symbolic value. These actions can be performed for religious, social, or spiritual reasons, and can happen regularly—like meditating each morning, or only on special occasions, like lighting a unity candle at a wedding ceremony.
At Cerra, we define rituals as regular activities you mindfully plan and perform to benefit your life. They are different than Moments, in that Moments are quick activities you do to change your mood in an instant. They’re also more than just a good habit, because habits are done automatically, without deep thought or awareness.
Rituals can take many forms and last any amount of time. What sets them apart from other beneficial practices in your life is that they:
• Are done routinely.
• Use complete awareness and focus.
• Are done with an intention, or goal, in mind.
• Are followed by a period of reflection afterwards.
To give you an idea of what a ritual can be, here’s an example of a Creative Energy ritual that one of our members does after a long workday:
“Every evening I come home from work around the same time, and head immediately to my scrapbooking desk. I plan the design I’m going to create, and I sit for about an hour, putting together the page, while working through the events of my day in my head. Afterwards, I’m decompressed, reenergized, and feel like I have more clarity on what happened that day. On days when I have to skip it, I miss it.”
The benefits of rituals
Performing these regular, meaningful activities can help you take a few moments to focus on yourself, adding more balance to a crazy day. When you have more balance, you’re calmer, have less anxiety, and can function on a better level. Plus, the more you perform a ritual, the more easily you’ll be able to summon the positive feelings you get from it over time.
For example, say you choose to meditate each morning before work to help summon your Wisdom. Meditation has been known to enhance concentration, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress. Performed regularly with the Wisdom affirmation in mind, you may be able to start your day with a calmer, clearer mind, ready to put your life experiences to good use.
One Cerra Community Member we spoke to described using the Worry to Action Moment to organize her thoughts for the upcoming week:
“On Sunday nights, I would get anxious about the work I had to do in the week ahead so I started to perform the Worry to Action Moment before bed. As I start up my computer, I think about the things that make me feel stressed. I type them in as a way to let them go. If I have a particularly complicated situation coming up, I’ll think about what I want to say or the things I’d like to make sure to remember to do. It really reduces my stress and I’m able to sleep well so that I can start the week refreshed, and with a plan.”
The steps of a ritual
In the early days of Cerra, we spoke to people to ask what they do to change their moods and relieve stress. While the actions people take to feel and live better were varied, three themes began to emerge. We took these elements and created be aware, act, reflect, not only as the steps for our rituals, but also a starting point for our products and practices.
First, become aware of an Intention, or a trait, you would like to think about during your ritual. Then become fully present with all of your senses in an environment, to help you focus your mind and clear away distractions.
Take action by doing something that is meaningful to you, and relevant to your desired outcome. For example, if you want to feel more Grounded, you may want to consider an outdoor activity, like walking, to connect you to the Earth.
Afterwards, take a few moments to think about the entire experience. How did it make you feel? What did you learn about yourself? This reflection may begin to happen during your activity.
If you’d like to give the steps of a Cerra ritual a try, begin with this ritual of self-compassion. Each morning, as you drink your coffee, you could become aware of your thoughts, feelings and surroundings. Once you feel fully focused, write yourself a “love note,” offering yourself love and compassion for the day ahead. When you are finished, stick the note on your mirror where you will see it as you finish getting ready for the day. As your mirror fills with notes throughout the weeks and months ahead, reflect on how these notes make you feel. How has your self-compassion changed?
In our next post, we’ll explore rituals you can easily do, and how they can fit into your daily life. In the meantime, begin to think about whether you could benefit from a ritual. Is there a feeling, Intention, or goal that you would like to put a regular practice in place to work towards?