I 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!)
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.
We 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.