Ritual is one of the ways in which humans put their lives in perspective, whether it be Purim, Advent, or drawing down the moon. Ritual calls together the shades and specters in people’s lives, sorts them out, puts them to rest.

    Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Women Who Run With the Wolves 

What comes to mind when you think of the word ritual?

Personally, prior to working in the personal development world, the word ritual conjured up the image of a crone bent over her cauldron, performing some time of magical ceremony. It always felt like a heavy word, and a labor intensive process.

I was sooooo wrong. 

Rituals are one of the unique characteristics of humanity. The creation of rituals, and their enactment is how we perform emotions: it’s how we link loss, happiness, celebration to significant moments in our lives. Weddings are ritual. Funerals are ritual. But the smaller things in life matter too-so it’s possible that your process of getting dressed in the morning is a ritual, or the way you prepare your coffee. All that is required for a series of actions to become ritual is presence of mind. 

Mindfulness is a trendy topic right now, and one that can be confusing to understand. At the core, it’s a simple idea: being mindful means rejecting distraction of outside activity and thought, and instead being fully present. Noticing your body, your feelings and your surroundings. This radical act of presence is what infuses the air around us with a sense of sacred magic. Each action that we take is something special because it’s the sole point of our focus, now. All we have is this moment.

The truly liberating thing about rituals is that you are in charge: you don’t need to study how other people conduct their rituals, and you don’t have to celebrate their chosen holidays if it doesn’t float your boat. Get creative. What parts of your life are worth celebrating? Worth remembering? Painful enough that you don’t want to forget them moving forward? 

Then, do what feels right. A ritual can be as simple as a silent meditation or as complicated as you wish to make it (choreography, lasers…there are no limits). Start with your five senses: what smell reminds you of that moment you’re commemorating? What sounds bring it back? What does your environment look like? 

Ritual away, friends. Here’s to discovering the sacredness within each present moment, and to using our presence to honor our past.