Recreate Yourself Through Ritual

22664260_10213991306272347_1730252169_oI shaved my head today. I actually had the idea on Sunday but waited until today, when the new moon was happening. I was intentional on having my partner support me by being the one who did the shearing (thank you Matt!). While he lovingly shaving my head, I was intentionally chanting about the things I wanted to release, and the things I wanted to call forth, and my hopes and wishes for myself, for others, and for the planet.

Why did I do this? Many, many reasons including that my mind was constantly occupied with how my hair looked, and the thoughts were zapping me of energy and focus. It was occupying space in my brain that I wanted to use for other things. I also had recently received a sign from local artist Jody Servon that boldly states “My Time is Valuable” that I think helped me make that connection. (thank you Jody!) IMG_2927

This was not the first time- I have shaved my head before to feel liberation (from the objectification of men) and to make a statement (protesting mountain removal coal mining). I knew the feeling that shaving my head would give me. It would make me feel powerful, like the captain of my own ship, and it would literally and figuratively feel like removing dead weight from my frame.

Shaving my head is helping me cope with the strong emotions I am experiencing around the recent #metoo campaign- but that is another post for another time.

Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth, I vow to speak purely and lovingly. When my mouth is fragrant with right speech, a floweWe all have rituals we engage in every day, whether we know it or not. The simplest ritual that most people engage is brushing their teeth. Some people get out of bed and stumble into the kitchen and turn on the coffeemaker. Some people spend a few minutes praying or meditating. These are all rituals. Some are intentional, other are not. And you can imbue your current rituals with meaning.

For example, Zen Buddhist monk Thich Naht has created gathas, which are like little prayers to help you remain mindful while doing specific tasks like brushing your teeth.

Do rituals work? According to science, yes! An article in Scientific American states, “Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence.” The article shows examples of people performing better in certain situations, even when the ritual was not imbued with meaning.

So why are rituals so powerful? In my opinion, it is ultimately the power of owning your story. So often, I feel like life is happening to me, that I have no control. And I am mostly right. I have a say in my life, and even times a pretty large say, but there are so many elements that I cannot control.

I believe rituals give you back some control- not so much of what happens to you, but how you interact with what happens to you. How you respond. How you see the events in the bigger story of your life. It’s a truth you can create for yourself.
And like most truths in life, whatever can be said and ring true, the opposite can be said and also be true. We have such little control over our life, it is a like a river that flows and its how we trust and let go in order to flow along. And, at the same time, we can place ourselves in the center of our life and take command of our story, cultivating the qualities we wish to express.
Do you have any rituals you do, either on a daily basis or for special occasions? How does the ritual assist you in living the life you want to lead? Do you perhaps have an unconscious ritual that you engage that is holding you back? I invite you to share below.
As a health coach excited to provide you tools for emotional health, I can help you construct rituals in your life that help you feel empowered, strong, and connected to yourself.
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