Gathering on Thanksgiving and eating turkey – even though some of us don’t really like it, blowing out birthday candles, celebrating the full moon, attending religious or spiritual services, brushing your teeth… These are all rituals.
Good ole Merriam Webster says ritual is “done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol.” There are religious/ceremonial definitions as well, and my own… “Something we do routinely or out of habit” and the unspoken “without thinking much about its meaning.”
Is this good? Well, it isn’t bad. However, if ritual is only done because it’s always been done, or because it’s what we should do, then maybe it’s time to re-think our rituals.
What we do is not nearly as important as why we do it. Why do you have a Thanksgiving feast? Your reasons are none of my business, and I won’t guess what they may be. I will only ask you: Do those reasons feel good?
If so, full steam ahead! If not, you have an opportunity here. Choose not only what you will do on Thanksgiving, but choose your actions from a place of pure intention. Not a place of others’ expectations, or your own past actions, but a new, clear place.
What feeling do you want to evoke on Thanksgiving?
Got one? Ok. Then do something that amps up that feeling. Do you want to feel grateful? Surrounded by love? Connected to family and friends? Feel it first. Then choose actions and activities, places and people that add positive strength to that feeling.
This is not just a Thanksgiving post. Think about other rituals in your life. The teeth brushing… Well, you’ll probably keep doing that. 😀 But how do you feel when you do? If it’s something you believe you just have to do, it most likely doesn’t feel very good, and you’re not so grateful for that toothbrush. However, if it adds positive strength to your physical body, helps your teeth appear the way you like, etc, then you’re changing the feeling behind that ritual.
You may not want to change your religious, spiritual, or family rituals. I ask only that as we approach the holiday season, you attend these rituals consciously. Notice how you truly feel about them. If you have good feelings, enjoy them! If you have negative feelings, now is your opportunity to turn them around. Perhaps changing your feelings will lead to new rituals, spending time with different people, or leaving behind some old traditions that no longer feel good.
Above all, no matter what you choose to do this holiday season, know that you do have a choice. Feel no pressure to do what you’ve always done. And feel no pressure to change! Just observe your feelings. Turn up the good ones and meet the less-than-good ones with compassion and love.
As for me, I’m not doing the turkey thing this year!