Last week, I co-hosted a Rituals & Spiritual Awareness workshop with my good friend Tamara Driessen (aka Wolfsister). We held the event at recently opened Glow Bar in central London and enjoyed pumpkin dahl, adaptogenic chocolate mousse and calming and grounding chamomile moon milk from my book. With the topic of rituals and spiritual awareness in mind, we focussed on talking about our personal journeys in spiritual awareness and in finding our own alignment and authenticity. It is a forever project, and it takes constant effort and constant reminders to stay connected and conscious, but read on to find out how it’s done.
Intuition and Awareness
These terms are often loosely tossed about, and whilst you might be familiar with them, do you really understand them?
Intuition is basically instinct. In a nutshell, it is the ability to understand something based on instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning or actual fact. It is within our innate nature to ‘just know’ or ‘have a feeling’ sometimes, that you just might not be able to explain.
Awareness is slightly different, but the two go hand in hand as, to hear or notice your intuition, you must be aware. Awareness, in this sense, is being in a state that is alert, open and conscious of things around you. It is possessing knowledge, perception or an opinion on any thing or situation that is outside of your own mind and body. Self-awareness is another story, but it all plays a part in contributing to your overall awareness of life and of others, and the awareness that everything seems to exist and occur inter-connectedly.
Both intuition and awareness require presence before anything else in order to be fully operational and authentically accurate. We have lost touch with our intuition for a number of reasons and in a number of ways, and we have reduced awareness in many aspects of life. A lack of being truly present is a huge contributing factor. We are more connected with each other than ever, thanks to technology, but we are literally wired and are connected to other people or other things so often that we rarely have the time or space to feel connected to ourselves and to the present moment. There is always someone or something else that requires our attention, and most often these relentlessly demanding situations exist in the past or future. Our minds are often stuck overthinking something that has happened, or planning and prepping (and worrying - let’s be honest) about things to come; things in the near or distant future that have not happened yet and may not ever happen. Sound familiar?
In order to be able to connect to your intuition and in order to be more aware, it is crucial that you find ways to be present, if not constantly, at least more frequently than you do currently. Having rituals that can help you to feel grounded and really ‘in the moment’, is essential for you to be able to reap the rewards and make the most of all the wisdom you’re intuition is trying to share with you. No one knows you like your intuition, let’s be real.
You’re intuition is magically capable of bringing forth ideas, thoughts, emotions and actions that truly align with your authentic sole purpose. Thats why it feels so good! You know those moments when something just clicks? Something just comes to you? Something just feels right and makes immeasurable and indescribable sense? Most moments like these often occur to me whilst I’m either in the shower, chopping or preparing food, during yoga or meditation, or in bed whilst I’m trying to sleep. It is in these moments, amongst others, that we are forced to be and naturally drift into a completely present place. These are all examples of when you are at your most present, and it is in these moments that your intuition can really speak to you. You are suddenly more open and aware enough to allow and to hear your intuition guiding you, and it is these thoughts, or epiphanies, that are most aligned with the true you, and, thus, make the most sense. They are reflections of a deeper part of us; one which is usually suppressed or unnoticed as we go about our busy, modern lives. I have some of my best ideas just before bed or in the shower, and this is because our minds are focussed either on just one thing or on nothing in particular at all; certainly not all the thoughts or worries of the day that usually arise as soon as we wake. When you are present, the daily noise and the messy thoughts are temporarily silenced and, feeling clearer and more organised, your intuition actually has a chance to give its input. It is truly powerful and we don’t reach or remain in this state for very long at all, which is how we end up feeling so overwhelmed, lost, unsure, fearful, low, depressed, confused and miserable; all at once. You know the deal.
So how do you know become fully present and how can you enhance your awareness on a daily basis in order to ensure you are on the right track, aligned with your sole purpose and functioning on a more spiritually-aware level? It takes time and constant reminders, and it takes consciousness, understanding and the responsibility to take control of your life in a way that allows you to live in the present moment as much as you possibly can. Not all of these rituals may be suitable for you. I believe the teacher appears when the student is ready, meaning when you are in the right place for them to resonate with you (if they don’t right now), they will be here whenever you are ready.
Make Time & Space; Reduce the Speed at Which You Function
The key to becoming more present is actually as simple as just making more time. We all complain there are not enough hours in the day and we are, in many ways, more stressed than ever (although the things we are stressed about are not stressful at all in comparison to what generations before us or less fortunate communities are faced with - but thats another story, for another post). For many of us, if we’re not doing several things at once, we’re thinking of several things at once, and our minds are moving at a million miles an hour, hardly connected to our bodies and focussed on so many things that they’re barely focussed at all. So slowing down the pace, taking more time and care over things, and just making a window of time to let yourself fully focus on each task or thought you are faced with, is a simple change you can make today.
Similarly to making more time, pausing is a powerful concept to become familiar with. As well as making more time wherever possible, consciously scheduling time or setting reminders to just pause at intervals throughout the day can actual mean you end up more productive because of it. Taking a break, removing yourself from a situation, or just changing surroundings and finding a few moments to be away from others can be so nourishing for the mind and soul and allow for less rational and rapid thoughts to subside, giving way to more meaningful and natural ones. Try to pause several times throughout the day, and especially at moments if and when you find yourself dealing with particularly challenging or stressful situations. It always helps to take a step back, process and observe the situation and come back to it again with a clearer (and more intuitive) mindset.
Journaling, Brainstorming and Stream of Consciousness
Writing your thoughts out on paper in physical form is a powerful ritual to get familiar with. I don’t journal everyday, and if you feel the pressure of having to, you haven’t fully understood the concept of journaling. It isn’t supposed to add to your workload, and there is no right or wrong or set way of doing it. But however it comes to you, writing or brainstorming can help to process and organise your thoughts, and analyse them almost as an outsider, as if they are separate from you. By doing this, you clear space internally for more truthful and authentic thoughts to present themselves, and you can really put things into context and let go of things that perhaps make absolutely not sense or are simply not worth worrying about. Stream of Consciousness is something I have been practicing for a few months, which involves simply starting to write whatever comes to you the moment you wake up. The content will be completely improvised and unplanned, with no real direction or meaning, but that is what makes it so powerful. It is freeing, it is creative, and it helps you to connect to your subconscious layers as you transition from being asleep to being awake; before you start concerning yourself with the day ahead. You may be surprised what comes up.
Yoga & Other Movement
Yoga is a must for me, but it took plenty of time for me to get used to it and to enjoy it. I still don’t always enjoy it, but I enjoy the way it makes me feel and the constant reminders if brings for self-awareness and self-development. I find it really helps to ground the egotistic mind and really puts things into perspective. Meditation is also a ritual I regard highly and, although my practice is often inconsistent, I know I can turn to it in particular moments. Use a meditation app, the rituals from my book, Well Being, or find some classes to attend and learn how to meditate yourself from a teacher. And if you don’t like yoga or meditation, simply go for a walk or find some outside space to just sit and be still. These too are forms of meditation; meditation does not have to be a structured practice or follow a specific routine. Almost any kind of exercise is meditative to me as it has the same affect as meditation; forcing the mind to focus solely on one thing. Any thing, whether it’s exercise or not, that forces you to focus and centre the mind, counts as a form of meditation.
With stress levels higher than ever, and a significant symptom of stress and anxiety being shortness or incompleteness of breath, we could all get a little better at this thing that fuels our existence. Breathing is not just something we do for the sake of it, taking in oxygen is crucial for all the vital processes of the body to function. If you’re not breathing fully, you’re restricting the life flow going into and out of the body, and not just your body but your cells, organs and so on. Try to be aware of your breathing, especially in stressful situations, and either practice taking a few deep breaths (maybe during one of your daily pauses, as discussed above), or find a Pranayama ritual that works for you (you can also find some of those in my book).
Whether or not you are what you perceive to be skilful or not, being creative is one incredibly way to really tune in and become present. If you can be creative (be that drawing, painting, making a collage, taking photographs, writing or whatever), you’ll find yourself in that place where your mind sort of wonders from the things it’s been getting worked up over, to a much stiller place of pure peacefulness. Focusing on something like this for which you have no expectations or desired results in mind is incredibly freeing and will help you to feel more present immediately. Don’t be judgmental, self-conscious or embarrassed - just try it.
There is nothing, nothing, like the power of human contact and connection for soothing the soul and calming the mind. Whenever I feel stuck, lost, worried or just generally low, I speak to friends or family, or whenever possible, see them. Speaking to others helps to rationalise your thoughts and provides alternative input and analysis to your own internalised worry. And, there’s nothing like a good hug from someone you know and love and who knows you and loves you back. Sometimes, there are no words, but time just spent together, and just the fact that someone cares, is unbeatable. Your mind will settle and you’ll find your energy begins to match that of the person you are communicating with, making you - you guessed it - more present.