6 Ways To Infuse Ceremony Into Your Everyday Life, From An Ayurveda Expert
Whether we are speaking of prayer, meditation, a movement practice, creative pursuits, mealtime, or even sex, bringing simple elements of ceremony to our actions suffuses them with meaning.
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Wake and sleep with the sacred
Think of waking as birth and sleeping as death. Before jumping out of bed in the morning, place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Take a few moments to feel gratitude for the day, perhaps making an intention to come into the Holy Pause as much as possible.
For inspiration in forming evening sleep rituals, think about what we do with little kids. We bathe them, sing to them, rock them, and tell them stories. As adults, we still need these elements of calm and sweetness at nighttime!
Move into sleep with a relaxing bath or shower. Place a few drops of lavender on your forehead. Rub your feet with an organic oil and cover them with socks. Take a few minutes to witness your thoughts and feelings about the activity of your day, fully committing to allowing whatever occurred to exist in your mind—the good, bad, and ugly.
Practice nonattachment to the day. Think of this as an opportunity to see how much you can surrender your day, your willpower, and your life into the ease of sleep. When thoughts arise, simply come back to the ease of the body, saying the words, "Letting go." This can act as a mental ritual to help you go to sleep with a "digested" mind.
For some people, this practice does not always work, as it can stir up more worry. But for others, it can be highly beneficial. Try it, or create your own nighttime ritual to help you rest.
Feed your pets with love
Even something as seemingly chore-like as feeding your pets can become a sweet ritual. Use this moment to feel your connection and responsibility to your little creatures and your appreciation for the joy and comfort they bring to your life.
Anoint yourself in the bath
Nurture your glow through self-massage and by anointing your skin with nourishing oils and meaningful symbols. There is no way to do this wrong—simply do what feels great on your skin and muscles.
I like to use a warmed organic oil (coconut, jojoba, and almond are a few of my go-to's) and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Sink into a warm tub of water, close your eyes, and soak.
Bring your mind into your body, part by part. Imagine placing a small ritual offering inside each of your body parts. Use whatever images feel good to your body. For example, imagine placing a pink rose petal on each eyelid and letting a large drop of honey melt onto your tongue. Use your imagination and intuition.
Keep moving through your body parts, waiting for the images to come until you have filled your whole body with ritual offerings. Consider yourself anointed.
Embrace the sacred in your journeys
It's common to offer special prayers in threshold moments of transition across many traditions. One small way you can reconnect to this practice is by saying a little protective prayer or pausing for a moment of reflection before you embark on a trip.
You can do the same thing to end a trip, retreat, or special journey with a friend or lover. For example, I recently took my mom on a beach trip. On our last night there, we sat together in the sunset and wrote out the answers to three questions:
- What were we really grateful for about our time together?
- What were we willing to leave behind in the winds of the ocean?
- What were we bringing back with us into our lives?
Before we left on our separate flights the next morning, we read our answers to each other. It was simple, real, and special.
Connect your meditation to a sense of holiness
Meditate, if possible, in the same place daily to imbue that area with a quality of the numinous.
Before you begin, clear the space and set your intentions by smudging or lighting your favorite incense or candle and offering a mantra or prayer out loud. Something as simple as "May my practice be for the benefit of all beings" can transform the practice from a solitary act into an act of service.
Research your lineage's traditions
Learning and reconnecting with the origins of common holidays can be extremely fulfilling. For example, Christmas is an opportunity to remember that many of our ancestors celebrated the winter solstice as a time of both the dying of the solar light and the rising of the sun in the spring.
It was a time for lighting candles and surrounding the home with lights, small gifts, and family gatherings as a celebration of the hope that comes through death.
For me, it is truly satisfying to connect the Christianity of my youth to the nature-goddess lover inside. Try researching your own favorite holidays and traditions; you can then develop and share meaningful rituals with your family and friends that instill these times with sacred intention.
Excerpt from Glow-Worthy by Katie Silcox M.A., courtesy of BenBella Books (October 2023).
Katie Silcox, M.A. is the New York Times Best-Selling author of the book Healthy, Happy, Sexy: Ayurveda Wisdom for Modern Women and the upcoming new book Glow-Worthy. She is the founder of The Shakti School, a premier online certification school for women-centered holistic wellness.
She holds a master’s degree in Ayurvedic Medicine, is a member of the National Ayurvedic Medicine Association and is currently pursuing depth studies in Jungian Psychology.