An excerpt from
When Women Rise
by Dr. Michele Kambolis
I get it. Your mind is running through your to-do list before your feet even hit the ground. You check social media or your emails before noticing yourself at all and the day quickly fills with the doing, and striving, and filling the needs and wants of others. What if I offered you another option? An option that invites you to slow down, honour yourself, and align with your highest aspirations. What if instead you formed your days around the kinds of rituals that inspire your highest well-being and a life well-lived?
I often see people carrying a tremendous amount of guilt as they take steps towards putting into practice rituals for greater self-honouring and self-care. The story they’ve been told is that self-care rituals are indulgent or selfish. In truth, weaving our life with self-care rituals isn’t selfish and it isn’t trivial—it’s your birthright. In our externally driven culture, we often wait for the big macro moments to hit before we stop in appreciation. Imagine instead, creating a life that is guided by ritual: a free-flowing state of habits and patterns all cultivated by an intuitive sense of what serves your greatest aspirations.
Ritual is one of the earliest languages of healing. Ritual makes sacred what may seem ordinary, brings a freshness to the present, and reminds us that in every moment we can be made anew. Through ritual we are never lost; instead, we linger in the liminal space of infinite possibility. The rituals and routines we commit to hold the space for transformation. And when we take time to reflect inwardly, and purposefully shape our day in ways that honor appreciation, awe, and wonder, we transform the quality of our entire life.
When practiced consistently, restorative rituals have widely positive effects on mental health and emotional well-being. Each small step adds up to radical changes in our health, outlook, mood, and neurobiology. Yet many of the people I work with keep their rituals well hidden. They worry that their practices of self-honoring will be seen by others as silly, superstitious, or indulgent or that they’ll be judged for spending time that could be better devoted to ticking off more items on the to-do list. They “sneak in” the practices that amplify their very essence and provide an important bridge between their inner and outer worlds. By design, rituals are reliable and help us to connect deeply to the sacred in ourselves and everything before us.
The rituals that you build your life around will be deeply personal: they may be formed through your cultural heritage, spiritual beliefs, or family traditions. Routines and rituals require active participation: they thrive in mindful awareness and dedicated intention. So not only do morning rituals, daily walks in nature, afternoon tea, prayer, and daily stretching calm the nervous system, they also shape our life. Remember, the scientific dharma tells us that whatever we repeat we become. So whatever rituals you choose, check in and ask, Does this soothe my soul?
Ritual, the repetition of action we relax into, can soothe and restore, energize and strengthen. Through ritual we slow down, open, and give the mind and body the spaciousness they crave. Ritual invites us into the present moment in its fullest possibility. As you begin to think about the rituals you’d like to weave throughout your day, keep in mind that what you choose to integrate into your life is uniquely yours. There is no prescriptive path here. You may find yourself going through the doorways of mantra, or meditation or the alchemy of a daily gratitude practice will speak most intimately to you. Whichever portals you step through, you will find yourself at the same destination: yourself.
Let’s practice. Take a moment to come into stillness and dream now of the routines and rituals that form your life. What do you practice in secret or yearn to call into each day? A poem whispered softly? A lit candle? Soft music carrying you through the morning light? Writing in the pages of a journal? A warm salt bath on Sunday night? Dancing alone? A cold plunge in the dark waters of a lake? Letters of gratitude? The smell of freshly baked bread? The fresh scent of a cut blossom? A chapter read? Each of these rituals may not be enough to notice at first, but in time they all weave the life lived well.
As you sit in quiet contemplation, open to the rhythms that move you, soothe you, and inspire you. Set an intention now to meet this ritual each day and allow it to manifest as a physical expression of your inner essence.
To honor your ritual, repeat this mantra ever so quietly: “I do this in the spirit of healing and awakening.
Dr. Michele Kambolis is a mind-body health specialist, registered therapist, meditation teacher, and acclaimed author and speaker who has been practicing for more than 20 years. She is also an unshakable believer in our innate capacity to self-heal and thrive. Dr. Kambolis is wholeheartedly committed to developing evidence-based resources to help people create the consciously healthy life they were born to live.
In addition to running a thriving therapy practice in Vancouver, Dr. Kambolis co-hosts live-streamed meditations on IGTV for thousands of followers around the world. Her second book, When Women Rise, will be published in Fall, 2021.
She has been featured on leading media platforms such as Goop, Good Morning America, Huff Post Live, Sirius Satellite Radio and Raw Beauty Talks podcasts and leads guided meditation at corporate retreats for some of Canada’s best-known companies. Connect with Dr. Kambolis at michelekambolis.com and whenwomenrise.ca.