Yesterday I shared three rituals you can do at the beach (or another body of water) to help you navigate periods of transition, uncertainty, or feeling stuck.
If you had watched me do any of these rituals last weekend, you wouldn’t necessarily know I was performing a ritual. From the outside, it looked like I was tossing rocks into the bay, or standing and playing in the ocean.
What is it about these activities that made them rituals?
The Defining Feature of a Ritual
The element that makes those activities rituals is the same element that is present in my daily rituals. It’s also the same quality shared by religious rituals and “woo-woo” rituals.
And it’s also the crucial distinction between rituals and habits.
The defining feature of rituals is intention.
A habit is something we do automatically, without thought or attention.
A ritual is an action done with intention and with a purpose beyond the scope of the action itself.
Intentional Actions Done With Purpose
To illustrate this concept, let’s look at this first in the context of the beach rituals I shared yesterday.
What made these actions rituals versus just playing at the beach or throwing rocks in the bay?
In the release ritual, I selected some rocks and held them in my hands as I considered what I wanted to release. In doing that, I made the rocks a symbol of what I wanted to release. Tossing the rocks into the water was a way to physically release those aspects of myself. Absent the intention behind it, it’s just tossing rocks into the bay.
In the flow ritual, I also tossed rocks into the bay. The difference was in the intention. In that case, part of my intention was to create movement and flow in the body of water.
On the beach, there have been moments when I stood in the water simply to cool off and feel the water. The distinction between that benign activity and doing a grounding ritual is the intention I brought to it.
I moved around until I found a spot where my feet could sink sufficiently into the sand. As I stood in that spot, I brought my awareness to my feet and allowed them to sink into the earth, even when their impulse was to pull up out of the sand. I paid attention to the strength of my legs as they supported me when the waves rose up to the shore and tried to knock me down, and when the undertow tried to pull me back with it into the ocean. I wasn’t just standing in the ocean. My actions were purposefully designed to help me find that sense of grounding and “rooting” that people describe, but that we often find difficult to feel.
Ritualize Your Life
You can transform any action or activity into a ritual by following a few steps:
- Be intentional about your purpose.
- Have a purpose that expands beyond the direct action itself.
- Bring mindfulness and attention to the action when you do it.
Life is too short to live in a haze of automaticity and reaction. Create and cultivate rituals to bring intention and meaning into your life.
Are you committed to creating a life of intention and meaning? Join the movement at The Ritual Revolution.