© 2011 jen

Ceremony of Self + Other Holiday Gifts

Typically when you think of a ceremony you think of a wedding or other rights of passage.  Simply put, ceremonies are a way to bring people together through a shared experience of ritual. Most rituals are such an integral part of the traditions of our culture and our families that we hardly think about them as being rituals.  Yet, there are so many practiced around the holidays; hanging stockings, leaving cookies for Santa, lighting the menorah, or for many, just being with friends and family and sharing a meal.

The holiday season can be rushed and crazy or it can be a time of reflection.  If you’re anything like me, it’s a time for a bit of both.  My schedule requires that I’m pretty busy leading up the holidays, which is why it’s even more important for me to really take some time for deep reflection.

Jena and I were talking a few weeks ago, discussing the importance of ceremony and ritual around the holidays. It got both of us thinking about applying the concept of ceremony and ritual to self-care.  It’s so easy to forget about your own needs when you’re busy, and for many of us the holidays are a busy season.  We all need to take the time, or better stated, make the time to care for ourselves.  A ceremony of self is about creating the time and rituals to appreciate and love yourself.  Think of the analogy of an airplane.  Flight attendants advise that you put the oxygen mask over your own face before you try to help others.   This post is about creating your own proverbial oxygen mask so you have more to give and share with others.  A ceremony of self is about bringing all parts of yourself together in a conscious, grounding way and celebrating the you within.

Self-care/self-love is easier said than done.  Many of us have feelings of guilt, shame, regret, low self-esteem or maybe we’ve never witnessed self-care and are not sure where to begin.  Some of us have been told that being focused on ourselves is selfish, or that telling yourself you’re awesome will make you arrogant.  Still others will say that this sort of thing is silly or cheesy.  Here’s the thing, you’re the only one involved.  You can take your own self critic, that “too cool for skool” self and throw it, and all other notions of worry, out the window.  The more you believe in yourself and love yourself the more open you are to growth, to finding your passions, as well as having more to share with others. You may even have to start the ceremony by writing down all the reason you can’t celebrate yourself, then burn the paper and get to celebrating.

There are many of us who might try to minimize the importance of creating a ritual for oneself,  because we’ve just bought a new pair of boots or we’ll be on vacation with family, so we say, “I’ve already taken care of my needs.” The ceremony of self is not about buying something or even really about downtime.  It’s about being conscious of yourself and your gifts, while being loving and appreciative of yourself.  It’s a private thing for you to be honest with yourself about the ways in which you totally rock.  It’s also about asking what you need and giving it to yourself.  The more you give love to yourself and show yourself that you are blessed with special gifts that are uniquely yours the more it will fill you up with that same energy to share with others.

So what will your ritual look like?  It will be somewhat different for everyone.  Everyone has different comfort levels, different areas they are strong in and areas they struggle in.  Here a couple of thoughts around creating your own self-ceremony.

  1. Make time to sit and ponder your own ceremony.
  2. Write down a few things you love about yourself.
  3. Add one item that you need and give it to yourself
  4. Make this process a ritual by adding some actions, such as lighting candles and meditating, drinking tea out of a wonderful teapot or cup.
  5. Move! Dance, stretch, do yoga, go on a brisk walk and think of your strengths.  Feel gratitude for every part of your body; your feet for getting you where you want to go, balance for keeping you upright, etc.
  6. Try this self-care prayer: “No matter how I’ve felt about myself, today, I love me just as I am.  I accept my growth as I become more myself each day and I believe in the me I’m becoming.”  If you have lots of feelings of doubt or negativity remember Maya Angelou’s quote, “When you know better you do better.”  and try to forgive yourself for your own or others past discretion.
  7. If you’re crafty make yourself something and think about the awesome that is you.  See the end of this post for some ideas on making yourself something.

Here’s what my Ceremony of Self looks like:

  1. Lighting candles, lots of them – pretty ones, arranged in a pleasing manner.
  2. Meditation to first clear the head and ground myself and then some deep thought on myself.  What am I happy about with myself (not external, internal).  For me I’m happy with my ability to trust others even though I’ve been hurt and let down enough times that I could stop trusting. I keep my heart open because the alternative is loneliness. 
  3. I make a list of things that I love about myself: I love my trusting heart, my generosity and my creative mind.
  4. I added one thing to the list to give myself, which is a massage.   A 90 minute massage to undo all of the kinks that my body builds up from all of the product making I do.
  5. Next I add the prayer.  I try to repeat it a number of times and internalize it.
  6. Then I go for a long walk and think about the legs that move me, the feet that carry me, the back that keeps me in balance and upright, my vision for seeing what is in front of me and what is inside of me.

OK, you have a mission now . . . how will you celebrate you?  How will you show yourself the love you deserve?  How will you make time to appreciate yourself?  How often will you repeat this process?  Lots of luck!  Merry Ceremony of Self and Happy Knew You!  xoxo

Here’s some handmade gift ideas for you to make something for you!

  • Learn how to crochet as a way of relaxing to a reach a state of moving meditation.
  • Paper quill a heart for yourself.
  • Super simple beeswax candle making.  It doesn’t say this in this tutorial, but you can also make beeswax candles in the microwave.  Just be aware of it’s progress, and check the wax often so that it doesn’t bubble over the container.