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Make Health Your Ritual

By Dr. Mark Wiley


Rituals have been a mainstay of traditional cultures for centuries. Many of these rituals revolve around solemn religious ceremonies and rites of passage from adolescence into adulthood. And what marks them as so unique is that they reoccur at one particular place on a special time and always hold meaning and deep value for the celebrants.

The United States has few such rituals anymore. We have Holy Communion and sweet sixteen parties, but ceremonies are lacking in our daily lives. Yes, we get up and go to work at the same time everyday, and we watch Leno from the same chair every night... Are these meaningful rituals or just habits?

For some, the grinding of coffee beans and filling of the automatic drip is a morning ritual they cannot do without. Perhaps it's not quite as automatic as getting up for work, but over time what's special about making the first cup can become a little routine. So, in general, it's fair to say that it is a lack of rituals with meaning that makes many Americans feel as if their lives are devoid of something... special.

When we speak of wellbeing, we do not limit ourselves to the topic of physical health and sleep. Rather, we include mental health, spiritual health, love, happiness and so on. Wellness is a very important part of life in general and health in particular. To de-stress with a hot bath or cup of tea or to curl up with a great book or have a walk everyday with a close friend is a way to manifest all of these aspects of wellbeing in your life. And with wellbeing comes health and happiness.

Health-conscious people such as yourselves know what you need to do to get better, happier and healthier. You have chosen a path of natural remedies and non-invasive therapies to cure what ails you. But these things can be difficult to implement at times, especially when you are a little unsteadily riding the bus of daily life instead of firmly holding onto the steering wheel.

So I'd like to suggest two things to help remedy an erratic headlong lifestyle. The first is that you gradually begin to weave rituals into the fabric of your day. And secondly, that you make a point of placing health and wellness at the center of whichever rituals you chose to institute. In this way, unlike simply making morning coffee, the profound meaning your rituals will contain is their ageless rootedness in traditional global health wisdom.

To do this successfully, you need to take ritual-making seriously enough to look realistically and creatively at how you live your days. How long do you spend watching cable-TV or surfing internet sites or talking endlessly on the phone? Ask yourself honestly how much time you can spare from staring into flatscreens. Suppose, instead, you were to put a few moments now and then into small daily touchstone observances, which serve as reminders of your dedicated connection to the real values of healthy living?

Wellness is, first, about doing what is necessary to get over the hump of acute pain and illness, then consciously deciding to achieve a balanced healthy life as the best means of preventative care. For this purpose, try to allocate specific, realistic and easily-remembered times to take your herbs or supplements. Before each meal is a convenient moment as well as suitable for a ritual. Let me explain...

The taking of supplements before a meal becomes a ritual part of the meal itself. I feel a special awareness that I will now do my body good before I indulge in foods that may taste great but be less than Vegan. My timing celebrates beginning a better-balanced meal with nature's herbs something people have been doing since time began. And as you take the herbs you can repeat a mantra or power phrase or just tell yourself that, like our wise ancestors, you too are nourishing your body with health. Then the using of herbs or vitamins takes on a deeper meaning that is real enough but too often easily overlooked.

If you take exercise, engage in yoga, practice meditation or tai chi, you can set a specific time each day and select a special place to do these mind/body activities. If you wake up early, then the morning hour becomes your sacred time for personal health practice. If you do it in the living room or garden or balcony, then this place signifies your sacred space. And having a sacred space and a sacred time for something everyday allows the practice to grow into a meaningful ritual. You do something just for you each day before you do for family members or co-workers.

In ritual we find deep meaning and a connection with spirit. By placing health at the center of our daily rituals, we can become one with our body and soul and joyously traverse the path of self-love toward a life of well-being.


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All material herein is provided for information only and may not be construed as personal medical advice. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The publisher is not a licensed medical care provider. The information is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in the practice of medicine or any other health-care profession and does not enter into a health-care practitioner/patient relationship with its readers. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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