My kids started school this week, and if you are anything like me, the weeks leading up to this milestone have been … rough. Last year, we were prepping the family room for zoom work stations and smiling through the frustration of trying to learn long division on a computer screen while 20 other kids competed against their waning attention spans to pretend this was quality learning. That was its own kind of hell and we were thrilled to be back in the classroom. (Pause for celebrating every teacher and administrator who made that happen.) This year, we returned to the almost-nostalgic thrill of shopping for first-day outfits and backpacks and contemplated the logistics of afterschool activities. It is a welcomed return to normal. Except … it isn’t?
While the mainstage of this return to school feels more regular than it’s been in a long time, the backdrop is anything but. As parents, the headlines of covid creeping ever more easily among children are competing for mind space with fears about a year or so lost of learning and the expectation that we should be pushing through with the same pace and intensity that we did pre-pandemic. For many of us, we are also juggling increased workloads and social obligations, while fielding anxious questions from our kids about their safety. On top of this, there is a collective undercurrent of public and journalistic opinion that nobody wants to hear about moms burning out. In other words, chin up and act like everything is fine.
I’ll state the obvious: everything is not fine. And, also, this is a safe space where we can talk about the fact that it is perfectly acceptable for a range of emotions to co-exist. I’ll also repeat the same response to myself and any of us feeling off-kilter right now that I do with my kids when they come to me with a problem: “That sounds like a complaint, not a strategy towards a solution.” (I know, annoying!)
So here is the ritual from my spiritual wellness toolbox that I’ve been relying on this last month to help me -- and my kids -- through what is a precarious time. My family did this the day before school started as a way to ground ourselves for an important transition, but you can do it anytime you feel like you need a reset or a mindful moment to find some abundance and gratitude within the uncertainty.
A word about doing these kinds of rituals, especially if you are new to them: have patience, be okay with it not being perfect, and laugh and feel your way through it. If something feels unnatural, try to lean into it. (Tip: call out and name that feeling: “I know this might be a little weird, but let’s give it a try!”) From personal experience, I can tell you that my kids took some time to warm up to doing these types of activities. But keep at it, and it becomes as simple and fortifying as a good family board game night -- and far more meaningful.
- What you need:
- A crystal that is good for emotional release or absorbing negative energy (good picks: Smoky Quartz, Black Obsidian, Blue Lace Agate)
- A crystal that is attuned with clarifying and manifesting energy (good picks: Clear Quartz, Sodalite, Selenite)
- A set of post-its or some paper, along with something to write with
- A candle and a smudge (good pick: dried cedar for protection or dried eucalyptus for cleansing), along with some matches and a heat-safe bowl.
- The ritual:
- Step one: Cleanse your space with your smudge. If doing this with kids, you can have them help out or you can lead. Here is a link to our video on smudging -- always include a moment to reflect and appreciate the land and people who originated this powerful and healing practice.
- Step two: Each person should take turns holding your crystal of release, placing it in the center of your table or gathering space when everybody has a turn. Next, spend a few minutes identifying the feelings, emotions, and obstacles that are creating your anxiety or are feeding negative energy. I prefer to start with a discussion about it, noting that speaking and writing down these trouble spots are an important part of the process for releasing them so they aren’t weighing you down.
- Step three: Each person should take a turn lighting their paper, serving as a physical release of those anxieties and negativity. Be sure to have a heat-safe bowl to place the paper once it is lit. You can also use intention papers, such as the beautiful ones from United Other, that are made for this purpose.
- Step four: Each person now takes a turn holding the clarifying crystal. While doing so, think of what you want to manifest moving forward. I like the simplicity of feeling in the blank of a mantra such as “I am _______,” which is an assertive, I-am-what-I-say-I-am statement perfect for turning your desires into action. I find it is particularly good if doing this with younger kids, who will remember it and can use it to refocus their energy post-ritual. Write this mantra (or whatever your intention of manifestation is) on a piece of paper.
- Step five: Each person should state out loud their mantra or intention statement, and then fold the paper and place it under the clarifying crystal. In our house, we keep this crystal and the intention papers in a prominent place and in moments of recurring doubt, we read through them together.
- Step six: To conclude the ritual, especially when I do this with my kids, I like to end by us holding hands and saying out loud: “I am safe. I am loved. I am enough.” Because in the end, I think that is what we all need to remind ourselves and each other of right now.
- Optional step seven: family dance party? In our house, we have Doja Cat at the ready for moments like this. I challenge you to play Woman and try to feel less confident, joyful, and centered -- it’s impossible!