A beautiful thing about the holiday season is the many rituals and traditions we observe that are passed down from generation to generation. Cooking special foods, lighting candles, sending cards, decorating our homes, sharing traditional meals with family and friends. They give us a sense of belonging across space and time, and connectedness to our loved ones, past and present. As we move toward the end of 2021, we may take stock of the past year and begin to envision what we would like to create for the coming year. This is a perfect time to practice simple rituals to support our personal growth and nurture our souls. Rituals can take many forms: from simple to elaborate; by oneself or in community with others; you can follow a prescribed format, or you can make it up as you go along! What matters is that your ritual is performed with intention. Some of us grew up with rituals as part of family life, others are learning how to create our own. Our ancestors knew the importance of rituals, and that is why our modern holidays, which have their roots in those ancient traditions, all contain certain things we do every year. In addition to seasonal rituals, practicing daily or weekly rituals can have a positive effects on mental and physical health. A study reviewing 50 years of research on family rituals by Dr. Barbara Fiese and colleagues showed that family rituals support improved physical health and stronger relationship. And we all know that, when we take care of ourselves, we are better able to be there for others–everyone benefits from our self-care. Here's an idea for a simple New Year ritual. Feel free to adapt it to suit your needs and personality! Find a quite space and set up a candle, pen, paper, envelope, and your favorite warm beverage. Light the candle, and take a few minutes to get quiet, maybe close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then ask yourself, “What do I want to create for myself in the coming year?” Without thinking too much, write down all the things that come to mind. Place your list in the envelope and write, “Open on December 31, 2022” on the outside, then put it in a safe place where you’ll remember to revisit it at the end of the year. We wish you a very happy holiday season, and send you blessings for 2022. And, if you would like to share your rituals with us, please feel free to email them. We would love to see what you have created!
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