The Power of Ritual
No Goats Were Sacrificed in The Making of this Blog
The word ritual has quite strong connotations for many. Often associated with religious practices, witchcraft, new age concepts etc. Actually, rituals are a very everyday occurrence in human life regardless of any spiritual beliefs or practices we may or may not follow.
The benefits of using ritual:
- Focus our energy and free us from distraction
- Unlock our potential and our creativity
- Help us achieve our goals and beat procrastination
- Enable more efficient uses of our time
- Boost confidence, self-belief and well-being
- Allow us to create our lives in more exciting and fulfilling ways.
You already have everyday rituals
Do you shower in pretty much the same way each day, same with cleaning your teeth? You may even notice that you have a ritual connected to getting ready for work or preparing breakfast. If you are a coffee lover, you may have perfected the art of coffee making (ritual). And the latter concept, perfecting the art of something, is exactly why rituals are a powerful tool in our daily lives. Sports professionals often apply ritual to enhance their performance as do many creative professionals.
Ritual is simply identifying steps that enable the best outcome for a particular intention or goal, so we can regularly repeat our success. A less spiritually loaded term could be coined from NLP, where we model success by identifying the core elements or steps that consistently create a certain positive outcome.
A touch of magic.
What I find though is that adding a touch of magic or ceremony to the process gives it more power than using a clinical approach.
Here are the essential ingredients for any ritual:
- The desired outcome (What do you want to achieve?)
- A clear, simple intention to focus on (Why do you want to achieve it?)
- An idea of the steps or resources needed to achieve that outcome
- A space designed to support the ritual, intention and outcome
- Awareness of mind, body and emotions
- Magical Element(s)
Let’s Design A Ritual
Once you’ve designed one ritual, you’ll know how to design any ritual to suit your needs. These are just some ideas to get you started, add a splash of creativity and make it unique to you.
A quick aside on character strengths, more to the point your signature strengths.
If you know your signature strengths, bringing one or more into the ritual will benefit the process. If you don’t and want to find out more you can do so here: https://www.viacharacter.org/ you’ll need a free account, and they don’t ever contact you outside of specific requests.
What do you want to achieve and why?
I’m going with: I want to write a magical fantasy novel (publishing would be another ritual, let’s not get greedy.) Why? Because I love fantasy and magic and to spend time creating such a world or worlds is something I love and would love to share with others.
Identify your intention
I’m not going to list all the steps, but I am going to look at where do I get stuck the most, what’s stopped me achieving this so far. At the moment I’m getting stuck cataloguing the details, and I also have big chunks of time where I don’t write anything. So being more consistent is a key thing here. That’s what I’m going to focus on in my ritual. I hope you see what I did there, I narrowed down the intention to be something more specific. ‘Be a consistent fictional writer.’ If you were to go through all the steps and resources for your outcome. Find the thing that is most likely to be an obstacle or sticking point and focus in on that as your intention. You can also begin with a ritual for your first step and work your way through.
What versus why
Your reason why is more important than the what, the why is your intrinsic motivation.
Make it real, bring it into the present.
I want to write a… puts my goal in the future as something that hasn’t happened. I want to be more consistent does the same. Here’s what we need to do…
Make it present tense
I am a magical fantasy novelist; I am a consistent writer.
Make it real
If you were to go out into the future and see this outcome as your reality, this is real, and it is true (your outcome not mine 😊) how does it make you feel? Remember your why. Take some time to notice how you feel in your body, not just in your mind. It may be hard to label or name the feeling, but as long as you have a body feeling that’s what’s important.
Hold that feeling…
Now we need to create our space that supports our what, our why and our feeling
You can keep this minimal or massive, it’s up to you. It partly depends on what you have available to you and who else might use the space. If you were to imagine this future reality, what do you see around you, what aspects of it can you take and mirror in your current space? I see myself sitting and writing in a hexagonal summer house, with large glass windows that look out into the middle of the forest.
Let the magic begin
Do you like crystals, like I do? I might create a hexagonal grid of creative writing crystals that I use just for this purpose. Have a small pile of magical fantasy books that have inspired me inside the hexagonal grid. A beautiful picture of the forest. I may create a special smell anchor to help put me in the right mood – I’ve written about creating these before, and I’d highly recommend them as part of your ritual – anchor the smell to the feeling we found earlier. I may have a few magical items to inspire my magical fantasy or an old-fashioned quill and ink set. Use your imagination, and you can, of course, refine it over time. In fact, keeping notes on what helps you with your goal and what doesn’t, so you can repeat what works and abandon what doesn’t is highly recommended.
You must create this space only when you are working on your goal. This is what makes it a ritual: Layout your space, have a special box to put the objects you use in it when you don’t need them, so you always know where they are, and it’s not going to take a lot of time to organise.
Put some ceremony into it!
When you layout your space, make a ceremony of it. Focus your mind on the intention you set, in my case: “I am a magical fantasy novelist; I am a consistent writer.” Even better chant it out loud as you set your space, but you can just repeat it in your head. If you have created a smell anchor, breathe it in as you chant and focus on the feeling in your body that you experienced with the outcome being achieved.
Keep in mind your space should also be practical for your needs. If writing, you need to be sure you are going to be comfortable. A stiff neck and shoulders aren’t going to help me be consistent. The environment you put yourself in is a big part of your likely success, so do consider the practical aspects as well and how you can improve on what you currently have.
Now add a touch of magic even if it’s not a magical goal like mine
A touch of magic can be anything you deem magical, fantasy or otherwise. Visualise magical light energy flooding the space, sound a gong, light a candle. Create a symbol that you draw with your hand in the space, or even get a wand and create a magical circle with it. Even a special cup of tea or coffee. If in your mind it’s going to add a touch of magic, then it is magic. Again, use your imagination, the more you make this yours and not mine, the better and more powerful it will be.
Enjoy it and have fun with it. Now I guess you’ll have to watch this space to see when that novel gets written. 😊