The reality of the 21st century is faster and more intense than ever before, topping it off with the chaotic, uncertain energy of this year - 2020. Oh, where to start? We jumped from being chronically busy and late everywhere to being stuck in our homes with our whole families, loved ones, or solo. It has been and continues to be rather difficult to navigate this life that seems to constantly throw new challenges at us - the pandemic, overloaded hospitals, unemployment, climate change, travel bans, political crises… This list could go on and on. The world is officially crazy. And it doesn’t stop. So there’s no other choice but to keep up with its increasing pace. But HOW can we squeeze our job, domestic chores, taking care of the kids, cooking, checking the news, and answering emails in just one day?
I think we all are quite familiar with the effect of that insane carousel:
We end up mentally and emotionally drained, exhausted, and confused at the end of the day. I’ve heard so many friends telling me that they’re just struggling to survive, waiting for this catastrophic year to end before even more suffering and damage can occur. However, that is not a strategy for me. I can’t help wondering what would happen if the answer was not trying to control the outside world but rather focus on the influence which we have on the inside world.
My rock and my pillar every single day has been the act of recognizing the importance of checking-in with myself. Prioritizing my needs, replenishing my resources and energy has kept me grounded. Introducing a mindful ritual into everyday life is SO helpful in navigating the uncertainty of the current world. A ritual acts as an anchor of a ship on a stormy sea or as a lighthouse reminding us of our values and priorities. Showing up to the chosen practice or activity is a way to honor yourself, to cherish and appreciate your mind, body, and soul.
Creating a ritual, dedicating it to yourself, and performing it consistently can be a game-changer. It can quite literally alter the course of your day.
From a psychological point of view having a daily ritual can reduce stress and anxiety levels as well as increase creative and productive energy. It is also a great way to give us a sense of purpose and keep us grounded. Just imagine this:
You’re sitting comfortably in a quiet, safe space with your closed eyes and your body relaxed. With every inhale and exhale your breath is deepening, your body releases tension and your mind can finally rest. Your awareness is expanding, now you can feel the touch of the clothes against your skin, your body temperature, and all the sounds and smells around you. While we’re on the topic of smell, let me go on a little segway:
We, humans, come into this world with one sense that is already fully developed. Yes, you guessed it - the sense of smell! Our first memories from early childhood are strongly tied to the fragrances that we felt at that time. The connection between the process of smelling and memory is quite strong since scents are directly connected to the limbic system in the brain. This region contains the amygdala and hypothalamus which are responsible for recognizing emotions and storing memories. To put it all more simply, a certain smell can trigger not only a hidden memory but also the emotions connected to it.
Since our sense of smell is so powerful from the moment we’re born, I can’t help thinking of joining the idea of building a mindful ritual with the rich world of fragrances. That is the moment to introduce a ritual that goes back to ancient times - burning incense.
This art form was used in past to evoke positive energy and to purify the air. Today, much like all these centuries ago, we look for ways to relax, concentrate, and ground ourselves. Whether you’re searching for emotional clarity or a much needed calming effect on the nervous system, incense burning can be a very intimate and sacred ritual. The delicate scent invites us on a journey inwards full of sweetness and bliss. Burn time of one incense stick is approximately 15 minutes. It’s a portion of time that can be dedicated during your day to practice mindfulness, to come back to yourself, to remember the essence of who you are. Sit in stillness and enjoy the silence...
Bring your awareness to the sublime scent, the wisp of smoke, and immerse yourself in it. You can perform your daily ritual in the morning to set an intention, in the evening to unwind, or in-between when you feel like you need to shift energy.
Let me know your beloved rituals in the comment section below!