In my first post related to daily rituals, I examined the benefits of personal ceremony and explored suggestions for ritual styles. Today I’ll be focusing more specifically on trauma-sensitive topics related to frugal daily rituals, including how to concentrate your energy during ritual as well as options for short meditations during more challenging situations.
Staying Present During Daily Ritual Practice
Establishing focus during ritual can be quite a task when external or internal distractions present themselves. Depending on your individual situation, finding a quiet time and space may require sustained effort. Do what you can to manage distractions that are under your control, such as keeping electronic devices away from your sacred space.
For those interruptions that are outside of your control, sinking into Goddess’ presence and reminding yourself of Her grace in all situations may help you concentrate. If you have young children who tend to get most interested in what you are doing the moment you’re busy, try to schedule ritual times when they are asleep or include them in parts of your practice. They will likely enjoy the “music and dancing” time!
Sources of internal interference during ritual may include thoughts of the past or future, as well as physiological issues such as pain or headaches. I like to think of my internal processes as messages. These messages matter and should not be ignored, but they also do not necessarily mean I need to immediately drop everything to “read” them.
If I feel physical discomfort during a ritual, I check in with myself and note whether shifting positions or coming back to the particular part of the ritual a few minutes later might work better. If an issue keeps entering my mind during a ritual, I discern whether or not it is rising from my inner work in the moment or from an anxious part of myself. If I feel like it is based on anxiety and can be handled later, I thank that part of myself who’s letting me know it’s important, and affirm that I will address it at a more appropriate time.
Minute Meditations for Difficult Times
We all have “one of those days” where everything seems to go wrong or we feel bombarded by stressors. We might find it impossible to settle ourselves for an extended meditative experience and may feel disconnected from Goddess. Instead of engaging in self-blame, give yourself permission to modify your practice in ways that feel comfortable to you. In these moments, I find taking just a minute or two with Spirit often changes my perspective and emotional state. These micro-meditations cost very little and are also a good match for times where you need to release energy after a tough encounter.
1. Sensory Activation
Using our senses connects us both to Spirit and to ourselves:
- Smell—keep a variety of scents nearby to bring yourself back to reality when you feel stressed. A few I use to help me ground are lemon, clove, sandalwood and sage.
- Touch—use self or partner massage on tense areas like your shoulders. A weighted or soft blanket may feel soothing. A ritual bath for your hands or feet can incorporate many of your senses, including touch. Petting an animal releases the “cuddle” hormone oxytocin.
- Vision—gaze at your personal altar to reconnect yourself to the Sacred. Spend some time in nature, noticing as many individual plants, animals and natural formations as you can. Participate in a Goddess meditation.
- Hearing—listen to your favorite music. Chants can help to release some energy, whereas instrumental music may help to calm the body’s rhythms. Read poetry aloud.
- Taste—I will be sharing a blog in a few weeks about taste with a particular emphasis on cooking as a medium for sacred practice. Taking a moment to savor a favorite flavor mindfully may recharge your soul.
2. Centering Chant
A centering chant can be sung aloud or in your head to help you return to self and ground. You can create your own chant or use one of many Goddess-focused chants. Chants typically include simple lyrics and repetitive sound, giving them a mantra-like quality.
As someone who incorporates Buddhist and Hindu thought into my practice, I also enjoy humming the cadence of the chakra that I needing the most alignment in a particular moment. Meditative Mind has published free versions of many chakra activation chants on Youtube. Each chakra has a different corresponding sound:
3. Counting the Breath
I’ll never forget the moment I was feeling highly anxious and the person I was with stared me down, stating “take a deep breath.” I’m pretty sure I held my breath just out of spite! Deep breathing can engage the relaxation response, but it can also increase anxiety if it is used at the wrong moment or as a way to try to stifle emotion.
I have found counting breaths to be more useful. A meditation teacher of mine remarked on finding the space between the out-breath and the in-breath. I tended to breathe so quickly I couldn’t follow her logic. Years later, I downloaded a free app called Prana Breath that specifies a set number of seconds for the breath in, pausing, breath out, and then waiting before starting again. I finally found the pause!
4. One-Card Tarot or Oracle
Meditating on a tarot card or oracle can allow your mind to see a situation in a new light. A few questions you might ask Goddess before intuitively choosing a card include:
- What do I need right now?
- What am I missing in my current view of this situation?
- What strength in myself could help me cope?
Most cards include gorgeous imagery along with words or descriptions. Take time to really explore the image and see what arises in your heart as you do so. I am often amazed at how many uplifting details artists are able to incorporate when I really study their work!
Intuitive cards are a commodity where I can get into splurging. I now invest in one deck at a time, purchased from Esty artists. This allows me to really take my time to get to know each card and evaluate how I respond to it in my inner work. Being able to communicate with the person who created the deck is an extra perk.
Goddessing Through Daily Ritual Takes Practice
On the whole, the personalization for which daily rituals allow means that they can be modified to provide a safe place for individuals who have a trauma history. Accessing simple, structured meditations when we are too overwhelmed for a full ritual gives us security in Goddess’ presence moment to moment. Pacing ourselves through obstacles that might hinder our practice emboldens our experience of positive spiritual progress and direction. Next week I will expand our palate of Goddessing on a Budget by digging into the ways in which deep connections nourish us on our spiritual journey.