These four guidelines can help you to design simple, personal rituals that honor your own connection with the living world of nature.
The benefits of intentional connection are threefold. First, it helps to antidote the alienation that comes from believing in separation. Second, by focusing your attention–and your creative energy–on your positive relationships with the living world, you make them stronger. Finally, through your practice, you feed the living world around you. If your practice fills you with gratitude, appreciation, respect, and beauty, you and all of life are so much richer.
Find out how to create your own satisfying rituals of connection with nature:
1. Set your intention. To begin, choose a simple action to indicate that you intend o focus your full attention on whatever follows. It could be a short prayer–especially if you follow a religious tradition–or annunciation to the energies of Spirit to join you. It might be a simple gesture like reaching down to touch the Earth, turning to each of the four cardinal directions, or taking three slow, deep breaths. You could light a candle, sing, ring a small bell, touch your heart, or whatever else feels right to you.
Setting your intention establishes the tone for the whole ritual. It reminds you that you’re creating a space that is special, outside the flow of normal activity. You’ll find that the more you repeat a certain opening gesture, the more comforting and familiar it becomes. In time, just repeating it will help you calm your mind and focus your attention quickly and easily.
2. Communicate. When you’ve opened your ritual, how you proceed depends on your intention. What are you here to honor? What would you like to express? The possibilities are endless–and entirely up to you. Some people make a ritual to honor the sunset, or the full moon. Others may want to honor a specific natural event (the first snowfall, thunderstorms, moonrise) or a particular animal.
Give your imagination free rein. Ask yourself what you’d like your ritual to communicate, which connection with the living world you’d like to honor, which of your companions you’d like to thank. Then, ask yourself how to make a statement as simply and eloquently as possible. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to come up with simple, enjoyable rituals. Start simply, focus on one thing at a time, and let your experience lead you onward.
3. Completion. Just as you opened the ritual with a gesture, mark its closing in the same way. These two gestures–even if they’re as simple as a focused breath–reinforce your intention that everything between them be special. Your closing gesture could be a repeat of the opening one or something different–whatever feels appropriate. Choose one that helps you to honor your intention and then let yourself return to normal awareness.
4. Action. Using the outline you just created, find a time to perform your ritual. Choose an appropriate setting. Take your time. Proceed with intention and as much clarity as you can. When you complete your ritual of intentional connection, take a few moments to notice how you feel. What was your experience? What have you learned? If you were to perform this practice again, is there anything you’d change? How else might you like to observe your connections with Nature?