Fall may be the harvest time, but Spring is ripe with rituals, too. Humans have celebrated the end of winter for thousands of years by welcoming the Spring Equinox with festivals. Communal rituals strengthen community bonds and help people feel connected to each other and their ancestors. Some Christians observe Lent leading up to Easter. In India, the Hindu Holi festival is a riot of color and partying. #bucketlist!
Unlike communal rituals, personal rituals are not subject to group dynamics or a preset “script”. Personal prayer and meditation are familiar rituals. Indigenous peoples’ vision quests are intensely individualized rituals.
Rituals can provide a catharsis that purges strong emotions and restores us to a more peaceful inner state. Not surprisingly, our results improve when we are calmer, one reason why athletes and other performers have pre-game rituals.
Obviously, rituals are a time-honored human power move. But why?
Rituals and Upleveling Your Life
Lasting change almost always boils down to one thing: practice something until it becomes a habit or reflex. A ritual can basically be a way of practicing, right?
Robin Sharma, the author of Leadership Wisdom From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: The 8 Rituals of Visionary Leaders, says, “Huge achievement is less about your genetics and more about your rituals. The secret of epic performers is their daily rituals”.
It turns out that personal rituals and habits are a powerful, often underrated way to turbo boost inner growth. I go over more about the science behind rituals in the Way of the Tigress book, including some compelling research by Harvard Business School Professor Dr. Mike Norton, and a fascinating TED talk about extreme rituals.
One finding from Dr. Norton’s research shows that what matters for a ritual is that you set an intention, and you actually perform the ritual.
I 100% agree because I lived it, even before I read his study.
Just thinking about it doesn’t cut it. Intention is key. That’s why creating a simple ritual for your Tigress Intention is one of the first steps of The Way of the Tigress Inner Journey path.
When we use a ritualized action to mindfully focus and practice a desired inner vision, it’s like practicing with our whole Self. We aren’t just sitting and thinking, and we aren’t just going through the motion in a distracted way, either.
My favorite ritual for many years was coffee and journaling in the morning. A few weeks ago, something shifted. That clear Voice in my head, not the normal Monkey Mind chatterbox, said, “I should walk in the mornings.”
I promptly ignored Her. I didn’t want to walk in the mornings. It was February in Montana, and I’m half bear.
A couple of weeks ago, though, I was reviewing my Tigress intention. I had to admit that the coffee and writing ritual had lost its potency for my current Way of the Tigress Cycle.
OK, fine, I thought, I’ll try the walk idea. Now, every weekday morning, if the temperature is over 25 degrees, I leave the house at sunrise. I could have told myself I have to be on the mountain by sunrise, but for me, the goal is just getting out the door. Once I’ve done that, I can relax, enjoy the walk, and not be checking the time.
I walk the same route to the big hill/small mountain at the edge of town, climb up the path, and enjoy the view. I stay present on the walk and don’t let my mind stray into the past or future.
At the top, I say this prayer from the Course in Miracles: “Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say, and to whom?” Then I walk back, do a short mat pilates workout, and start my day. The whole ritual takes about an hour. Have I been late a few times? Yes, by a couple of minutes here and here, but the point is I show up to the practice.
Riding the Earth
So here is the really cool thing: When I put the walks in my calendar, using the exact time of sunrise from the weather app, the little event boxes on the google calendar have a subtle incline in the week view. Sunrise is two or three minutes earlier every day until the Summer Solstice in June.
This practice gently aligns my morning routine with the earth’s movement and the unfolding season. Thats a powerful baseline! Maybe it was the whole point of the Divine Nudge “I should go walk in the mornings”.
What rituals are important to you? Are they daily, or are they tied to a place or object instead? I’d love to hear about it.
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The Way of the Tigress