We all have certain practices we turn to on the regular: brewing that perfect cup of morning coffee, listening to our favorite morning show on the drive to work, concocting our daily green juice with care. Whether we realize it or not, these things are rituals – little moments in our day that anchor us and remind us of who we are. Barbara Bizou is a pro in the art of ritual creation, and how the rituals you choose to practice can shift your life for the better.
A mentor to many (including the likes of Donna Karen and the founders of SoulCycle), Barbara helps empower others by teaching them the power of ritual in all aspects of everyday life. As the author of The Joy Of Ritual and The Joy of Family Rituals, Barbara teaches men and women around the globe that by cultivating a connection to these intention-filled acts, we can create the kind of life we long to lead – one that’s truly sacred. Here’s Barbara with seven simple ways to create your own sacred rituals, one for every day of the week…
Most of us are going so fast that we forget that stopping to create and appreciate sacred moments in the day can sustain us, open us to expanded creativity and link us with our deeper, wiser selves. Slow down the pace of life as you care for yourself and discover the things that stabilize you and bring you joy. If you make the most of the present, you will be more aware of possibilities and will have a better chance of creating the future you desire.
Ritual is one of the greatest spiritual technologies of the 21st century. This series of consciously created symbolic acts gives you tools to shift your mindset, break through hidden barriers and open to an expanded vision for your life. Thus, we are able to bring a sacred feeling to ordinary events, transforming them into times of quiet reflection and connections. They guide us in our day-to-day lives, and lead us to a higher spiritual ground. They mark significant times, ease us through transitions, and – especially in times of rapid change – bring structure and stability into our lives.
7 Ways to make your week sacred
Start your morning off with gratitude:
Before you get out of bed, take a moment and recite the following:
Spirit most high, I love you and I open myself to receive your love.
Spirit friends, I love you and I open myself to receive your love
(Say your name), I love you and I open myself to receive your love.
You can end with blessing your body, your home, your friends, family and anyone or anything else. As we take the time to stop and bless what we have, we can learn to appreciate each moment and gain happiness for living in the fullness of the present.
Do anonymous acts of kindness:
To restore delight and magic into the world, find ways to reach out to others without expecting anything back: Buy a latte for a stranger, hold the door open for someone who is struggling with packages, offer to help someone at your office with a project you can easily accomplish, let someone go in front of you in line, bake cookies and share them with others. I also love to send anonymous cards that say, “You are loved and appreciated,” or drop off flowers for someone at an assisted living facility. I went through my old CDs the other day and brought them to a nursing home. And don’t forget to smile at strangers.
Create an Altar:
You can have an altar in your house, office or car. It will transport you away from everyday concerns and connect you to something larger than yourself. Your altar should reflect you and your dreams, so make it uniquely yours. Think of it as a message board to the Universe. Write positive words on rocks or slips of paper like joy, fun, prosperity, love and dream. Place a picture that makes you smile. I have one of me swimming with dolphins. Put a fresh flower on it weekly or bring in symbols of the four elements (a feather for air, a shell for water, incense or hot pepper for fire and a rock, crystal or leaf for earth) Your attention will be energized by the objects you choose to place on the altar, so select items that matter to you.
Bless Your Food:
We can make our meals more civilized and sacred by honoring our food and becoming more conscious of what we eat. Take a moment before eating to appreciate and give thanks for the nourishment in our lives and to create an atmosphere of mindful eating… even at the office!
In the evening, if you are eating dinner alone at home, make the table beautiful by using candles, flowers and good china. This sends a message to the Universe that you appreciate and honor yourself.
Begin by saying a prayer of thanksgiving… silently or out loud.
May this food give me (us) health and nourishment. I give thanks for all my (our) blessings. I give thanks to Life.
Let Nature Speak to You:
Nature is a window into the world of the Divine, and the four great elements (air, fire, water and earth) represent the physical manifestation of spirit in matter. So, it’s little surprise that the four elements are connected in countless ways to every aspect of your daily life. When you become truly conscious of the four elements and learn to harness their immense power, you can create miracles in your life.
When you are feeling overwhelmed with the everyday details of your life, look outside to a big vista, gaze at the sky, look at the ocean or download a picture of the galaxies to get a larger perspective. Feeling spacey? Take a walk and connect to the earth. Use your daily shower or bath as a ritual of purification. Imagine all your worries and concerns going down the drain. Need a boost? Smell some fresh cut oranges or grapefruit or experiment with some aromatherapy.
Never Answer the phone on the first ring:
Every time the phone rings, use it as an opportunity to take a few deep breaths. Breathe in deep, slow belly breaths allowing the body to take in all the air it needs.
Remember when you are in stress mode, you are not breathing. As you take some deep breaths this immediately allows the body to relax and gives a signal to the brain to release the “happy” chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin. You will then have a clearer focus and more energy to deal with whatever comes your way.
Consciously end the day:
Most of us tend to mull things over at night, which creates a constant stream of images and conversations that keep us awake and negatively affect our sleep. You can’t talk and sleep at the same time.
Set aside 5-20 minutes before going to sleep. Take a few deep breaths and write down everything you accomplished today. Even if you took only baby steps toward a goal, it is important to acknowledge that progress.
Now write down anything that is bothering you on a separate piece of paper. When you are finished, rip it up and throw it away. This is like emptying the trash in your mind.
Place a few drops of lavender essence, or my Unplug aromatherapy spray, on your pillow. Breathe in its soothing scent and have a great night’s sleep.