Ayurveda Life: 5 Rituals to Adopt for the Holidays
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Practical Magic: 5 Rituals to Adopt for the Holidays
This time of year memory and nostalgia are powerfully present. December hosts special days for many religions and cultures. Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, a New Year for many…there’s no arguing that it’s a time of reflection and renewal, and – dare-I-say – magic. And magic is not just for the kiddies. We create more memorable experiences, more magic in our lives, through ritual.
The Spirituality in Self-care
The previously mentioned traditions all have certain rituals attached to them. These rituals are meant to aid remembrance and continuity of tradition. I joke with my students that I am teaching them practical magic in Ayurveda – sharing simple self-care tools that are seemingly benign, but when put together – poof! – healing happens. Long term digestive stuff goes away, sleep gets better, things start to fall into place…seemingly like magic.
I believe there is spirituality in our self-care rituals. Spiritual acts connect us with something larger than ourselves. So when we act with awareness, as with ritual, we make larger waves, and deeper impact, beyond ourselves. Ritual implies significance. And significance means it makes a lasting impression in our memories, individual and collective.
The Process of Healing
When the necessary observances of sadhanas (practices) are continued…as an integral part of our daily activities, we are able to touch and draw upon the potential immortality imbued in the human species. ~Maya Tiwari, Secrets of Healing
As a healer, I ask a lot of questions about healing. In my exploration, healing seems to be a state of being – and we can be in a state of healing, or in a state of coping.
We are multi-dimensional. Healing is multidimensional. We might speak of mind, body and spirit…though we all know those are not separate things, just ways of describing and differentiating our experiences.
A ritual is consistent, whether daily, annually, or once-in-a lifetime. This regularity is stable; it is grounding and rooted. A ritual, no matter how simple or complex, is a time to invite great awareness, and connection to the senses. The experiences are meant to be pure, or sattvic. Stability and purity are two qualities that can invite all body types and psychologies into a state of healing.
I’m sure you all have certain rituals you practice this time of year. Whether it is lighting the menorah or carrying in a Christmas tree, opening an advent calendar or baking Grandma’s pie, enjoy the way they connect you to the human and healing experience of being alive.
These 5 simple activities can become daily rituals for your own healing and sanity throughout the holidays, and can easily be shared with family and friends.
EARTH: Start your day with a positive affirmation
Before getting out of bed, bring your hands together in front of your heart and set the grounds for a mindful day. If you pray, this could also be a prayer. I often use “Thank you for this new day, may I move through it with mindfulness to be worthy of receiving it.” This might be too heavy, but whatever you choose just keep it in the present tense and relevant to you. “I am present and joyful,” “I trust my body can heal itself,” “I radiate love to all.”
WATER: Drink a cup of warm water with lemon
Drinking a cup of warm water first thing in the morning is a great tip for improving digestion, elimination, and hydration right from the get-go. This is especially helpful because you might be eating heavier foods than usual at this time of year and need all the help you can get. If you’re hosting friends and family, it’s easy to invite them to have a mug of water as well, getting something in your system before (or in place of?) a common ritual – coffee.
FIRE: Light a candle before your meals
This is a ritual many of my clients love. This fire is representative of agni, the fire element, which helps us digest our food and transform all of our life experiences into memory. Ayurveda suggests eating meals with your full attention on your food for optimal digestion. The first step is to at least turn the radio/tv/phone/computer off while you eat, and lighting a candle brings that much more awareness and symbolism into the act of nourishing yourself.
AIR: Go for a daily walk
You might go solo, with your dog (she will love you!), with family or neighbors. It can be so hard to get outside this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when it’s so cold, and there is less light, but this is just the reason to get outside. Making this a daily ritual can bring about great changes in your mood and even your biorhythms. The fresh air will fill your body with prana, and it will also get you a dose of light, hard to come by near Winter Solstice.
Whether it’s chanting OM alone in a morning practice, your favorite chant, or singing holiday carols together, singing opens the heart and throat chakras. And of course, acts like a pranayama, or breathing practice, in its own right, boosting our mood and energy. This can be a challenging ritual for some, but I invite you to experience the opening and connection it can bring – even if it just means singing or chanting alone on the way to work while driving!
Adena Rose Bright is founder of AdenaRoseAyurveda.com, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Panchakarma therapist, and Maya Abdominal Therapy Practitioner. She helps women discover their capacity to heal, starting with stubborn digestive complaints. Get a free One Day Ayurvedic Cleanse Guide to help reset your digestion at http://www.adenaroseayurveda.com.