Luxury Rituals*

When I first heard the term, 'Luxury Rituals', it felt somewhat contradictory. What exactly is a luxury ritual?  I had to unpack the individual meanings to make sense of it. My understanding of ritual was grounded in tradition, symbolism, discipline and healing with intention. While I equated luxury with style, opulence, grand expense and posh comfort.  How could these intersect in a meaningful way? The deeper I explored this paradigm the more I had to reframe what luxury means today. I realized that time is the new luxury. Not the fancy car, designer handbag or holidays, but time to do whatever sparks joy for us. Feng Shui expert Alex Stark says that ritual is a way of connecting with the earth and calls for a rebalancing of male and female energies to help our species survival.  One of my ritual teachers, Daniel Foor, says that "ritual is a way of rebalancing the integrity of a space or a situation in order to create a potentially better outcome". Put in this context, it doesn’t feel selfish to take time out for self-care rituals. But self-care isn’t something you do once every 6 months and check it off your list. A key component of ritual, although not wholly defining, is repetition.  Doing them daily, even in small ways can help bring us back into balance and soothe our souls. The Dalai Lama, for example, is committed to sustaining his lifestyle of self-care by knowing when to say no to others to preserve his daily self-care rituals. 

If only we had more time to follow the Dalai Lama’s lead; to be present with our children, to read that anticipated book, to have a quiet cup of tea or to just have 10 minutes alone in the bathroom. For most of us, finding the time or the energy to take care of ourselves is a challenge; even when the benefits of self-care are clear. If you could make more time for self-care rituals, what would that look like for you? Self-care has been shown to strengthen our immune systems by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest + digest), it makes us more productive, boosts our self-esteem and causes us to be more compassionate to others. When we fill our own bucket, we are then able to fill another’s.

I like simple self-care rituals because it makes them more likely to be sustainable.  For a simple, daily practice try experiencing a cup of herbal tea, mindfully, with all of your senses.  Breathe in the aroma and feel the warmth of the teacup in your hand. Focus your attention and all of your senses in the moment. Rituals don't have to be elaborate. The practice can be practical rather than poetic. It can just be 10 minutes but will give you so much more in return. Or, try walking barefoot on the earth and feel the grass under your feet, grounding you. If you take your cup of tea into the garden, your feet will connect you to the yin earth energies, while the volatile components of your tea will connect you to the yang sky energies.  I suggest looking at your motivation and intention of your ritual to be better connected to its power.  Rituals are dynamic, so allow for unexpected things to happen. This way we are not attached to a particular outcome. 

My favorite self-care ritual takes a little longer, so I aim to do it weekly, rather than daily. I renew myself with a 20 to 30-minute mineral bath soak with essential oils + flowers. Water energy is associated with the sacral or second chakra and is about fluidity, empathy, femininity and connection to our emotions.  For thousands of years mineral salts have been used to detoxify the body and assist with cleansing the aura, along with crystals or the ancient practices of smoke cleansing with aromatic plants. The cleansing and healing powers of water make it a regenerative self-care ritual.  I always feel like a reset button has been pressed after emerging from a bath. 

There are many simple rituals you can begin to incorporate into your life; from elevating your nighttime skin care routine by adding an intention or affirmation to dry brushing to promote cellular renewal and vitality. You could try the practice of alternate nostril breathing, called Pranayama in Sanskrit or yoga and meditation. You may already have a meaningful ritual and need to prioritize yourself to make it happen. Giving yourself the luxury of time and attention with intention regularly, is an act of self-love. If you agree with the poet and author Rupi Kaur, who says “How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you”, then it’s time to reprioritize your time. 

Finally, when I think of luxury in its original meaning, I think a shift towards ethical and sustainable luxury is the future. This means luxury products or services with conscious, sustainable values as their ethos.  There are products and services that aim to generate meaningful moments to support you on your quest for rebalance or self-improvement. These can be useful in your rituals, but you shouldn't feel as though you need anything outside of yourself to fulfill your luxury self-care ritual. 

*This article was originally written by me for Richwoman Magazine at as 'The Power of Luxury Self Care Rituals For Intentional Vitality during Covid-19' in June 2020.