As the world is getting colder and darker, my attention usually turns more inwards, my body gets slower and craves more rest. For many years I would fight against this flow, try to keep the same momentum that I feel during Spring and Summer time, and eventually fall into what is often referred to as a ‘Winter depression’.
While I still notice my mood dropping when this time of the year comes around, what has significantly helped me live through this period is to accept that I have a different flow in the Winter. Maybe it is not me that is wrong, but rather my way of relating to the change of season. It is for that reason that I have developed the ritual The Rest. It is part of the ritual journey through the year that everyone is welcome to join. However, not everyone can make it or is in the mood of joining a social event. That’s why I decided to put out a little guide on how to do this ritual for yourself.
The intention of The Rest is to invite yourself to slow down and take more time to rest in your everyday life. This can mean different things for different people, and part of this ritual is for you to find out what is best for you.
Create a cosy ritual space for you in which you can be undisturbed. As a minimum, I recommend laying down a cloth or piece of fabric with a candle in its centre. Decorating the centre point further with tokens of significance to you or just pretty things will help you make this ritual feel more special to you.
Group all materials that you will need for the ritual in a place where you can easily reach them.
If you live with other people, let them know that you need privacy for the duration of the ritual.
For the ritual itself you will need:
- Blank paper
- A pen
- An envelope
- Your journals from this year, or 12 small blank cards
- Soothing music to play in the background (optional)
- Singing bowl (optional)
Once everything is in place, take a seat. Whether this is on the floor, on a sofa, or at table, is up to you. I prefer sitting on the floor for my rituals as it gives me more grounding.
To start the ritual, I like to simply hit my singing bowl once and listen to the sound completely fading away with my eyes closed. You are welcome to use another way of opening the ritual space for you.
If your eyes are not closed, close them now, and turn your attention to your breath. Notice the effortlessness with which your body inhales and exhales. After a couple of breaths, extend your attention to your body as such and simply notice if there are any specific points in your body that you feel more than others. Don’t try to change how they feel, just notice them.
Still with your eyes closed, say the following out loud: “This ritual is an invitation to myself to rest.” You can use other words if they feel more fitting to you but try to keep it short and concise. Let the words sink in before you continue.
If you would like to have soothing background music, this is the time to press play.
Take out your journals and go back to the entries of January this year. Flip through them at your leisure, reading in them. There is no need to read everything (you can, of course). The point here is to remind yourself what has happened in that month for you. After five minutes or so, move onto the next month, February, and continue like this until you arrive in the present moment.
If you do not have journals with you in this ritual, you can take five minutes for each month to think back on it and see what you remember. Don’t stress yourself out if there are only a few memories or none. On the small blank cards, write down in keywords what you remember. Use a blank card for each month.
Once you have arrived in the present moment, put down the journals or the cards and close your eyes again. Take a moment to really acknowledge all that has happened for you this year. Notice how you are impacted by it. What emotions are alive in you right now?
Open your eyes again and take the blank piece of paper. On this piece of paper write down or draw anything that makes it hard for you to rest. This can be expectations that you have towards yourself, certain projects, interactions with specific people – whatever that means for you. Once you are done, fill this piece of paper into the envelope and seal it. Write a date for next January or February onto the envelope and place it around the centrepiece. The date is a promise to you when you will open this letter in the next year and return to the things mentioned in it.
Lay down now. You have gone through this year one more time now, you have boxed away some things for next year – it is time to rest now. No more shoulds, no more guilt tripping yourself for being tired or “too lazy” – this is the time for being tired and lazy.
Sense into what resting means for you. (If you feel this is too big of a task at this point, then don’t do it. No more shoulds!) If there are any commitments that you would like to make to yourself, you can speak them out loud, i.e. “I will set a morning alarm as little as possible”, “I will eat to my heart’s content without shame”.
Once you feel it is time to end the ritual, find a way to end it. I will simply ring my singing bowl again and listen to its sound fading out while lying down.
Remember that you do this ritual for yourself and only for yourself. So if there is anything in the way I recommend doing it that you would like to do differently, do it differently. As some guidelines for how to be in a ritual space, you can also consult my 7 Agreements of Ritual Practice. Also don’t hesitate to write to me if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
And I love hearing from people how the ritual went for them. I’d be super happy to receive a short message and maybe a picture (if you have one).