I once worked with a shaman who often said, “The mind is a hunter, give it something good to hunt.” By this she meant, if you don’t control your mind, it will control you. A runaway mind contributes to anxiety and fear. Using rituals that focus your mind gives you more control over what you think.
Sales managers often use rituals to get their teams focused and excited for the workday. The manager will gather everyone in a huddle and then perform a series of call and response chants. I’ve seen this in the movies. It seems like great fun and a bit ridiculous. But it really works! One of my favorite mind rituals is to look in the mirror right before I leave for work and say to myself, “You got this!” This way I start the day off with positivity and confidence.
My friend KT has a lovely nighttime ritual. Every evening as KT is washing her face, she tells herself, “I am confident. I am love. I am peace. I forgive myself and gently show grace and compassion to all of me.” She told me that when she does that final splash of water on her face, she lets go of anything that happened that day that doesn’t line up with those words. She imagines all that she’s released, going down the drain with the water.
Having a calming ritual like the one KT uses could help you calm your racing mind so that you fall asleep faster. I’ve tried several rituals that help me calm my mind at night. Recently, I’ve gone back to my Catholic School days and started reciting the Our Father in my head every night. I change “Give us this day our daily bread,” to “Thank you for today’s sustenance.” The part that helps me let go and relax the most is “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
The Connection Between Healthy Habits and Rituals
It’s widely accepted that good habits lead to positive change. Habits are something that you do almost without thinking about it, while rituals are intentional and more meaningful. It’s hard to establish good habits. It takes self-discipline. By adding meaning and intention, rituals help the habits stick. Also, rituals help you stay focused on the moment instead of getting overwhelmed when you want to achieve a long-term goal like losing weight or getting in shape.
One great ritual that helps establish good eating habits is praying before meals.
Even simply saying, “Thanks for this food,” without a deity attached is powerful. This simple act stops you for a moment, so that you remember to stay focused on eating. Instead of just gobbling your food, you can savor it, and enjoy it. You may even find you eat less. Stopping before you take that first bite will also focus your mind so you’re not thinking about something else. What a great cure for the common problem of not remembering what you just ate because your mind was somewhere else.
Many of my friends who like to run have a nighttime ritual. Before they go to bed, they lay out their running shoes, socks, and clothing. This is a great visual cue for the mind. They go to bed having preprogrammed their mind that the workout is happening even if they don’t feel like it when the alarm goes off.
Rituals can help you control your mind so that your mind doesn’t control you. Rituals also allow you to stay positive and focused. Rituals can be a fun way to form good habits which will help you maintain good health. You’ve got to work on improving your own well-being. You’re worth it.
What’s one of your favorite rituals? How has it helped you?
Here is the video that goes along with this post.