Rituals are the key to creating a good life and a buffer for when times are not so good. We call them rituals because this word invokes a sense of mindful sanctity, not because it is religious but because it is profoundly important for our individual and collective wellbeing. Rituals are established routine ways that we cultivate our best selves and highest ideals.
The word routine also summons up unappealing tasks or plain boredom from the humdrum of everyday life. But the point of practising a ritual routinely is because this is the most effective way to cultivate change or maintain a good thing. Rituals get us to do the things that we might not always want to do or feel we have the time for, but we do them anyway, and this is how we learn, grow, evolve and thrive.
What is important to you but you nevertheless let it slide out of your consciousness because you are too busy with other life stuff? Another way to consider this question is – What do you wish for year after year, as stated in your annual new year’s resolution, but never actually comes to fruition? Yes, that. Rituals give us the practical time and place to set in motion and maintain the motion toward the goodness that we so desire in our lives.
It is simply too easy to remain as we are and not do anything to change our deeply rooted habits. We learnt how to be from our parents at the very young age, our brains formed grooves that we have been living in since childhood. Any adult is going to find it difficult to chip away at our comfortable conditioning in order to create a new groove. But chip away we must, and rituals are the best tools for the job because they can be pleasurable, beautiful and satisfying. The hardest part is starting.
We all know that we should practise what we preach but life is inherently challenging and we faulter when we are tired, stressed, or under pressure. It is easy to be a living embodiment of peace, love and harmony when we are in a particularly happy phase of life, unburdened by the myriad shit storms that inevitably happen. It is much less easy to embody our ideals when we are triggered, shooting off into the atmosphere with no anchor to secure us to the ground and no cushion to soften our inevitable landing when we fall back down. This is the value of rituals.
We tend to only remember the sanctity of family, community, and our very existence on earth when we attend a funeral. We so easily forget how radical it is to be alive, how majestic it is that whales sing songs, how heart melting it is that otters hold hands when they nap, how joyous it is that flowers bloom after winter, how wonderous it is that plants can regenerate and thrive after destruction, how miraculous it is that humans can suffer such great miseries and still have hope for all of the tomorrows to come.
Rituals can routinely put us in contact with this space of tender reverence for life and remind us of the long game. Our lives matter and our efforts, however small, matter. We cannot be perfect, nor should we strive to be, but we can be confident that we are learning, growing, and evolving toward a good and meaningful life.
“Our brains are leaky and, under pressure of any kind, they will readily revert to customary patterns of thought and feeling. Rituals train our cognitive muscles, they make a sequence of appointments in our diaries to refresh our acquaintance with our most important ideas.” – The School of Life, A Replacement for Religion
Here are 23 questions to consider as you find resolution for the path you've been walking and avow the new groove that you are carving out for the year ahead. Read through and contemplate these questions, noticing what responses arise, the ones that feel most potent will be the ones to remember throughout the year to come. How will you remember? You will create a ritual to remind you of what is important and what you are moving towards or away from in your life. How to create a ritual follows below...
- In what ways did you grow in a positive direction this year?
- What was the hardest situation you had to face this year and how are you overcoming it?
- What hangover troubles from your childhood are still influencing you?
- Name 3 characteristics about yourself that others might find difficult.
- Name 3 characteristics about yourself that you find admirable.
- What 3 characteristics do you envy in others (this gives you a clue to where you would like to grow)?
- In an ideal world, what big problem would you solve right now?
- In what ways do you pretend to be someone you know you are not?
- What would shock your colleagues if they knew a certain something about you?
- What old dreams are you willing to let go of?
- Who in your life needs to be forgiven?
- Who in your life champions your you-ness and brings out the best in you?
- What are some problematic beliefs that you learned from your parents?
- In what ways do you wish you were more like the person you were as a child?
- What are you unlearning about relationship dynamics from your family?
- If you could change your job/career tomorrow, what would you do?
- Name one thing you feel ashamed about and keep a secret for fear of rejection?
- What makes you feel sexy, confident, comfortable in your skin?
- In what way is your body truly wonderful?
- What is most lovable about you?
- What might you regret on your deathbed?
- If 2024 was your last year alive, how might you spend your time?
- How might you show up in the world as the admirable person that you desire to be?
- Choose 1-3 of the questions above and write them in your journal.
- Create a reminder in your phone for the 1st of every month, or the full moon, or the new moon, to open your journal and return to these questions.
- Before you do this each time set the ritual scene by making sure you won't be disturbed for 10-20 minutes.
- Brew a herbal tea.
- Light a candle or some incense.
- Play some soft instrumental music.
- Get yourself comfortable and contemplate these questions, how you might be evolving and how you might be feeling stuck.
- Rewrite the question/s in your journal each month and add a new response, just one word or a whole page, to express where you are at in relation to the question/s.
- If you feel empowered, on track and confident with your growth, haere tonu, carry on as you were.
- If you are feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and disappointed, then write 3 actions you can take over the next month to get closer to where you wish to be. Make 3 new reminders on your phone to lock these actions into your life, lest they get forgotten.
- Create your ritual as elaborately or simple as you like, just be sure to return to what's important to you at least once every month, this is how you will set in motion positive change, creating the life you wish to live and embodying the person you wish to be.
- Listen to our latest meditation to have an audio prompt for this ritual RESOLUTION.