This episode of Ceremony is everything features special guest writer Sarah Lindsay, owner and Yoga Instructor at SALA, a Ponsonby Fitness Studio.
What is ritual and why is it important?
Many of us dream of slowing down, connecting to nature and living more mindfully. Unfortunately with increasingly urban lives, it often feels impossible. Busy is so embedded into our culture, it’s difficult to imagine living outside of that framework.
Even as a yoga teacher, busy has anchored me to a lifestyle which isn’t always in alignment with my teachings. How do we embody freedom, when we have so many responsibilities?
This is where the concept of ritual can become powerful. The word habit can have negative connotations, it is associated with bad habits or with habits that we don’t want to start. Habits are hard to make and hard to break.
However, the word ritual feels different - it evokes a strong feeling of connection between you and the task at hand. Ritual is the opportunity to fully participate with an activity, conversation or thought. To give ourselves permission to experience full mind- body presence at the task at hand.
An example of this may be within an activity we do often. For me that is practicing yoga. When I’m on my yoga mat and I feel myself falling into unconscious movement patterns, I try to re sensitive my body to the immediate felt sense; clothing against my skin, the temperature of the room, the feeling of my breath moving in and out of my body. As I begin to fully and consciously participate in the activity, rather than moving mechanically the activity is infused with a new sense of purpose. It becomes ritualistic. Habits can feel mechanical, but rituals can infuse the everyday mundane with the sacred.
This concept can be carried through into any activity, not only physical ones. I’m a big believer in creating everyday rituals. To make living itself ceremonial. I believe this helps us connect back to our primordial nature, the one before society and schedules- the one where we lived in unison with nature. I call this intuition led living. I think it is the simplicity in which so many of us are craving right now. It is the simplicity that nature offers, which we ache for. Ritual gives us the opportunity to slow down, to participate more fully and to attune to intuition led living. You are not able to multitask when you consciously participate, thus rituals help us invoke the same sense of slowing down and simplicity which nature offers.
Rituals do not need to be profound or extravagant. One of my favourite rituals is making tea. I am slowly growing a tea picking garden; mint, kawakawa, lavender and lemon basil. I love going out into the garden to pick the leaves, deliberately. To me the process of making the tea, boiling the kettle, as potent as drinking the tea. A ritual is not a routine. Routines are done unconsciously, rituals are conscious. Rituals allow you to become the process, rather than outside of it. It only takes a few minutes of your day, and is a beautiful way to live more mindfully.
This is how life becomes ceremonious. This is how we slow down, within our urban, busy lives, invoking the sacred into the mundane of everyday.