After 2 & 1/2 years of being oh-so-careful, I tested positive for COVID the other day. Almost everyone I know has had the virus experiencing varying degrees of illness (from almost nothing to life threatening…and some have died) There are those who are still experiencing “LONG COVID.” As I write this Sanity Saver I’m feeling considerably better even though I am still testing positive.
Being quiet and still is my “go to” healing mode. When I feel up to it, I step outside and marvel at the changing colors of the trees, the incredible blue sky, and I “deadhead” a few plants as the garden prepares itself for winter. Once again, for me, nature is the ultimate healer.
Years ago, when recovering from surgery, I discovered how watching the news weakened me instead of strengthened me. Having turned off the news as I heal from COVID, the last thing I heard about was the attack on Paul Pelosi. My heart sank as I began to spiral into a despair wondering who we have become as a nation. Why do so many of us feel that such expressions of hatred and violence are acceptable? I ask why ALL of our leaders are not speaking out to condemn such despicable rhetoric and acts?
Leaders employing violence rhetorically can spark acts of physical violence on the part of those who follow them. They may claim they never intended for people to act violently, but that is unacceptable. I would encourage all of us to look at our own language during these divisive times and refrain from using violent language in regard to those with whom we strongly disagree. We should insist that our leaders do the same. Clearly the threat of escalating violence against individuals and groups is real. Let’s each do what we can to calm the waters.
In order to show up and take a stand in a meaningful way, we need to take care of ourselves. So, for the last several days I have been news-less and keeping very quiet. I am visualizing a more peaceful world, practicing lovingkindness. As I build up my strength, I will immerse myself in nature and hopefully re-emerge centered and strong. It is my deep hope that we will find ways to treat one another—even those with whom we strongly disagree–respectfully and with kindness, calling out and refusing to accept what is divisive and threatening to all of us. Violence against one of us hurts all of us.
Rituals play an important role in our lives. A ritual is defined as a “religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.” Barbara Bijoux, noted author of two books about rituals, reminds us of the power of ritual as part of our transformational journey. Rituals can help us mark/celebrate important holidays, rites of passage, or “hold” us as we remember family members and pets on their death anniversary. And, the practice of rituals can often remind us that we belong to a larger community.
Rituals can be simple actions performed as part of our daily routines. Or they can celebrate more grand events at specific times of the year. Regardless of the form, they reflect shared values and experiences, often passed down through generations.
It is likely that we practice rituals throughout our lives when we celebrate such life events as birthdays, graduations, weddings, without even realizing it. Some rituals help to connect family members, some help to remember those who have died, and others remind us of a rich cultural heritage. For example, Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one widely well-known and recognized day regarding death rituals. On November 1 and 2, many in Mexico and some South and Central American cultures celebrate life by honoring the dead. On these days, it’s not unusual to see people dressed as skeletons, or see candy skulls and colorful shrines dedicated to the dead.
As we go through life, we often have the chance to celebrate with friends, their rituals which are different from our own. Sometimes, these rituals feel right to us and we connect with them. We do not have to have grown up with a specific ritual to adopt it if it feels comfortable and meaningful. For this reason, it can be useful to search for different types of established rituals (in addition to creating our own) as a way to honor significant moments, people, and events in our lives. Some rituals are practiced solo. Others are practiced as a group. Both hold the power of connection: with ourselves and with others, and with the larger world.
Think about ways in which you already practice meaningful rituals and where, in your life, you may wish to create new ones.
We can form our rituals to celebrate our routines as well as significant events and relationships to the wider world.
Take a moment and think of ways in which rituals can be a part of your life.
Life Cycle Events
Prayer / Blessings / Meditation
Rites of Passage
It can be helpful and healthful to commit to doing something every day that “grounds” us. In this practice we can consciously give thanks for our body. Sometimes we focus on the parts of our body that ache, are not functioning well, or are causing us distress. In this exercise it can be helpful to address those parts with a different attitude.
We can thank that part of our body for having worked so hard and now offer it some soothing compassion. Talking to our bodies is a great way to begin to learn how to speak kindly to our inner selves. Nurturing the part of our body that is hurting instead of damning it and punishing it may help with our healing.
Additionally, as we ground ourselves, we can take a moment and give thanks to the parts of our body that are “holding up” and functioning in ways that support our everyday life. I learned this practice from a woman who had many cancers. She awoke each day doing her own “body scan” where she had a variation of this conversation. I find it is a very helpful daily habit.