Ami subscribes to a religion of her own creation called Spiritual Eclecticism. You are all welcome to join, by the way. Winona is a recent convert. It’s a non-denominational and free-form cult of one. The only requirement is that you regularly engage in rituals of your choosing for guidance and comfort. They can be adapted from New Age practices, religious ceremony or something funny you saw on “South Park.” The only caveat is that you feel a genuine connection with them. No need to wait for Halloween to stand out in the woods and summon the spirits of your ancestors — or whatever gets you there. In Spiritual Eclecticism, you practice your unique rituals year-round. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started. Feel free to rip them off or invent your own. It’s your world.
The Piece Of Paper Behind The Fridge. Ami stole this gem from a good friend. Take a piece of paper and write down all of your goals for the next three months. Don’t edit or hold back. Just put it all out there. Then hide your list behind the fridge (or somewhere where you can easily find it, but not see it). Write a reminder in your calendar and in three months, take out your paper and see where you’re at in your progress. Rejoice in the things you accomplished and shrug off the things you didn’t. It’s not an excuse to self-flagellate for all you didn’t achieve, but rather a chance to take an honest look at where you’re at. Then rinse and repeat every three months. It’s a fun way to set goals without all the pressure.
Starting The Day With Selflessness. Winona started doing this daily ritual after reading about it in a random interview with Diane Von Furstenberg, of all people. Apparently every morning DVF starts her day by sending an email that will benefit someone else. Winona loved this concept so much that she adopted it as a daily practice. Starting the day with a selfless act doesn’t have to be email-related; it can be paying for a stranger’s coffee, letting someone merge in front of you at rush hour, or sending a supportive text to a friend who’s going through a rough time. Whatever form it takes, starting the day selflessly helps you forget your own problems and sets a positive tone for all your interactions.
Message In The Music. Whenever Ami is feeling adrift in the universe, she puts her iTunes or iPod on shuffle and listens to the songs that come on randomly for guidance about what’s upsetting her/ what she needs to focus on. It’s hard to ignore Mick Jagger when he tells her she can’t always get what she wants or when Florence Welch suggests she shake the devil off her back. It’s a fast way to get some clarity. Especially for music lovers.
Sidewalk Labyrinth. Walking the labyrinth is an ancient spiritual practice, but you don’t need an actual labyrinth to find peace and enlightenment — city sidewalks will work just fine! This ritual is perfect for sunny day lunch breaks, morning walks, or if you’ve just got some time to kill. Winona likes to do this when she’s feeling restless or needs some alone time to ponder. All you do is start walking a random direction, and every time you reach an intersection or a fork in the road, let your intuition decide which way to turn. Forget logic and planning, and definitely forgo any concept of a destination. Just walk, pay attention to your surroundings, be open to the new people you cross paths with, and see where you end up.
Oracle Cards. We’re both fairly obsessed with the Goddess Guidance Oracle deck and Power Thought Cards, but there are oracle cards of every flavor — from tarot decks to wacky bits of wisdom. Pick any deck that resonates with you. As far as how to use them…don’t worry, you don’t need to be a psychic or tarot reader. Just close your eyes and think of a problem or question. Shuffle the deck and pick a card at random. See what it has to say and what it might mean in the context of your life. And just contemplate that message all week. This week, Ami’s Goddess is Brigid whose message is to stand up for what you believe and don’t back down and, her power thought is “I express my creativity.”
Picking Poems At Random. Ami learned the art of poem picking from an acting teacher and adapted it as an everyday ritual. Before we would do a scene or monologue in acting class, we’d be presented with four books of poetry. Then we’d choose a book, and from that book, a poem at random. Then we’d do a short free write about how the poem related to our character. Ami does this now, but with life circumstances. She’ll pick a poem at random and see what kind of wisdom it has to offer. The great thing is you can choose any poetry or book that speaks to you. Tiny Beautiful Things, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, and Letters to a Young Poet are her current go-tos for life advice.
Weekly Gratitude Lists. Every Sunday night after dinner, Winona and her boyfriend sit down and discuss all the things they’re grateful for from the past week. These bits of awesomeness in their lives range from “friends who are always there for me” to “that really good curry we just ate” to “crazy beautiful sunsets.” By the time they’re done, they feel thankful, humble, and excited to see what the upcoming week will bring. Gratitude lists can be a daily ritual, a Twitter meme, or a mental habit to help you snap out of a “everything about my life sucks” funk, but in our experience, they’re best when shared, written down, or said out loud.
Feather Reassurances. When she was in college, Ami began to notice that every time she felt angst — she would find a bird feather at her feet. After a while, her feathers became synonymous with the reassurance that that she shouldn’t worry because everything will be fine. To this day, whenever she feels weird or upset or unsure, she looks for the nearest feather at her feet and it eases her mind. It may not be feathers for you, but it’s probably something. Take time to notice things you see repeatedly and how they may have the power to soothe you.
The Burning Of The Letter. Ami thinks she made this one up herself — although she can’t remember because she’s been using it for so long. It’s really simple. It involves writing a letter to yourself about all the things you want to let go of in your life. This could be a past relationship, a career block or financial issue — really whatever you feel is holding you back. Then burn the letter (somewhere safe! don’t set your house on fire on our account!) and literally watch those things you want to get rid of burning before your eyes. It sounds kooky, but the immediate relief you’ll feel after the paper is done burning is palpable.
[Photo of candles and cards via Shutterstock]