By Erin Ward, Journey Meditation Teacher
Showing kindness to ourselves can be one of the more challenging practices to commit to. Life happens, challenges arise, we get busy, and it is only illness, fatigue, burn out, and moments of overwhelm that ask us, with urgency, to prioritize self-care. Yet, by living in a human body we have every tool needed to support ourselves in sustainable well-being.
One of the simplest means of showing kindness to ourselves is to create personal rituals. Rituals are a single action or series of actions that are meaningful and performed the same each time. Rituals are tools that offer us space to pause, honor ourselves, and become present.
A ritual is a way of coming back to balance when we feel overwhelmed. It’s a realignment tool when we feel our world out of whack. It can be as simple as a conscious breath. A ritual stays the same and though it can evolve over time, the intention is not to progress it but rather to allow it to naturally transform, or not.
Like any practice – meditation, yoga, mindfulness – showing up to it consistently creates scaffolding for us to lean into when we experience suffering. Perform ritual during times of peace and contentment so that it can support us when we really need it.
Morning and Evening
Morning and evening are ideal times to perform ritual, setting ourselves up for the day upon waking and then leaving it behind for sleep. Here are a few rituals to explore. Try a ritual for a week, either morning or evening, and observe how it feels. Remember, what the ritual is is less important than how consistently you show up for it.
Sample Morning Rituals:
• Upon waking, lay in bed and take 15 slow deep breaths, placing hands on heart and belly
• Stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself 3 things you celebrate about you
• Speak out loud 10 things you are grateful for
• Put on a favorite song and dance as it plays
• Walk outside and take 10 deep breaths
• Make a cup of tea and write your intention for the day
• Choose 5 yoga poses and hold each for 5 deep breaths
Sample Evening Rituals
• Lay on the floor and put your legs up the wall for 10 breaths
• Write down 3 great things that happened that day and one thing you hope to happen tomorrow
• Set bedtime intentions by speaking out loud what you want your dreams to reveal to you
• Make a cup of herbal tea and mindfully drink it, allowing each sip to dissolve the day
• Call or text one person and tell them what they mean to you
Adding a little ritual to your life is a dose of kindness that ripples out because when you show up for you, you show up for the people around you. We are innately connected, and kindness serves as a powerful binding agent, bringing us closer together to ourselves and to each other.