Mara Branscombe is a mother, writer, yogi, artist, teacher, mindfulness leader, ceremonialist, spiritual coach and author of ‘Ritual As Remedy: Embodied Practices For Soul Care’. Mara is a long-standing friend of Halfmoon, and is passionate about weaving the art of mindfulness, self-care, creativity, mind-body practices, and earth-based rituals into her life and work, leading community ceremony since 2000.
How do you define rituals?
Throughout history, the power of ritual has been at the heart of both ancient and modern civilizations. Within both secular and religious cultures, from vision quests to high holidays, to tea ceremonies, sweat lodges, to birth and death rituals — humanity has experienced the deepening of self, community, and spiritual awakening through the power of ritual.
A ritual is anything that is done with intention; it can be done alone or in a group, it can be formulaic or intuitive. Ritualizing your morning with a gratitude practice with silence, lighting a candle at mealtime, honouring the full moon, or celebrating the seasonal wheel of the year are all ways in which we honour the present moment. When self-care transforms into intentional soul care and healthy habits are consciously activated, our perspective shifts. Naturally we become more spacious and less attached to daily dramas.
“Rituals become navigation points inside the compass of our life’s journey – reflecting to us what is most meaningful and reminding us of how we are always evolving.”
How do rituals benefit daily life?
The ritual life brings rhythm and steadiness into our days. It brings meaning to our inner life—the spiritual life—in ways that words cannot express. This becomes a “felt” sense where we experience the sacred on a visceral and somatic level. It’s devotional and deeply personal. From our center of gravity down into the earth and up to the sky, we simultaneously stay in a grounded connection and a rising consciousness. We dream our biggest dreams into the realms of possibility while embodying a calm and practical mind-body state. We embody all of the elements at once. We become dimensional, we diversify our portfolio, and we open to beauty and joy every step of the journey. We light our candles, we greet the day with reverence, we welcome in the wonder of a child, we visualize how we would like to walk into our day. We practice a spiritual intimacy that becomes vulnerable, mysterious, and reciprocal as we cast our prayers out into the universe.
Weaving the threads of the body–heart–mind creates an open tapestry. We get to choose what, how, where, and when to create. We get to choose who we want to share our deepest, most intimate, and sacred moments with. Sometimes, our most soulful work happens in relationship to nature. Find whatever the divine means to you. What stirs your soul, pulls you up from the ashes, reminds you of your courage to carry on? From the quiet meditative moments to epiphanies—let each moment, calm or wild, guide you into your soul chamber.
[Excerpt from Ritual as Remedy]
What’s a good ritual to start the morning with?
Daily Gratitude Practice
- Light a candle and sit in silence. Attune to your breath, honour your body as your temple, and call forth three gratitudes.
- Rehearse how you will move through your day.
- Call forth a personal symbol, a word, an element, or an inspiration to carry you through the day.
“I am grounded, like an old growth tree. I am deeply rooted and wildly expansive. Today I choose to reconnect with the love, joy, and freedom that are my birthright.”
[Excerpt from Ritual as Remedy]
How do rituals affect your wellbeing over time?
When we engage in rhythmic, conscious practices, we experience something other than the mundane. Many of us experience this on the yoga mat, the meditation cushion, spending time in nature, through physical activity or artistic endeavors. Over time, with dedicated practice and clear intentions, our inner state can shift from a place of chaos to calm, fear to strength, and sadness to joy. When we begin to weave our healthy habits into the fabric of our daily lives - we ritualize them. And the best part — we acknowledge what matters most to us.
What are 10 daily self-care rituals to support your full potential?
- Upon waking, call forth 3 or more gratitudes.
- Light a candle and welcome in your intentions for the day.
- Consciously connect to your breath every day.
- Practice intentional acts of kindness and compassion.
- Become aware of your negative thought patterns the moment they arise and redirect them. Journal limiting thought patterns, heighten your awareness as you replace them with positive ones.
- Forgive yourself, so you can be forgiving of others.
- Connect with nature as a healing and inspiring source to reset your nervous system.
- Light a candle at dinnertime, place your hands over your meal, and be grateful for your inner nourishment.
- “What You Feed Grows” — open to this mantra from every angle of your life and spark creativity in your day.
- Turn off your devices 30 minutes before you fall asleep, consciously release feelings/thoughts that no longer serve your true nature.
How does crystal healing work?
Historically, ancient cultures have worked with crystals as a source of healing, clearing, and transforming energy. Crystals can enhance the well- ness in body, mind, and spirit through both physical and spiritual realms. Everything in our universe is made up of energy, from the fabric of the clothes you wear to the metal in the bicycle you ride, to the hair on your skin—they all contain unique vibrations of energy. Although you cannot actually see or feel these vibrations, the cells inside your body and the energy inside crystals also contain their own unique vibrations. Imagine the workings of a magnet. It can both repel and attract energy, and this is also how healing crystals work.
When you hold a crystal in your hand or move it over an area in your body, your body responds through a pulsing or a shifting that you may or may not feel. This inner pulse can raise the vibration inside your body in alignment with the crystal’s energetic healing property. Both crystals and our human bodies contain the mineral silicon dioxide. As a result, we are naturally receptive to the vibrations of the stone’s healing quality. The energetic interaction between you and the stone creates a charge, and this alchemy can create a state change or a felt sense within. This could be anything from clearing negative energy to encouraging restful states, to relaxing the nervous system—all depending on the stone.
When you are fatigued or stressed, when your emotions are imbalanced, you can work with crystals, along with raw stones we find in the earth, to balance areas of disharmony and nourish our energy. It’s important to purchase ethically mined crystals, and when collecting stones from the earth, check in to receive permission. The stones are like conduits. The unique properties and history they carry can be channeled into you through the induction of their particular frequency. Picture how a light source turns on when it gets plugged in; there is a similar stream of electricity when a healing crystal gets placed on your body. You receive the benefits from aligning with the crystal’s energetic properties. Visualize how a magnet draws up pieces of metal. This is how crystals can pull out imbalanced energies in your body.
There are many ways in which crystals can be used to heal, connect, and generate positive state changes in your life. They can be arranged in your home or on your altar, you can wear them, place them on specific body parts, hold them while you are meditating, or put them under your pillow while you are sleeping.
[Excerpt from Ritual as Remedy]
“Strong spine, wild heart, rooted presence, rising spirit. When we anchor inside the cosmic web of our own signature essence, we support not only our own personal evolution, but that of everyone else around us.”
We hope this has helped guide you into a deeper level of soul care and inspiration for new rituals to incorporate into daily life. Grab a copy of the book Ritual As Remedy: Embodied Practices For Soul Care to discover even more ways to ground, heal, connect and grow. Follow @marabranscombe on Instagram to stay updated as well.
And if you’re inspired to try out a new crystal set, check out the Mindful Moments Crystal Set here on the Halfmoon site.