Post Imbolc in the Northern Hemisphere can be a challenging time. Winter still lingers, cabin fever is more prevalent, and people tend to spend much more time online. There seems to be an uptick of unhappy people, as the combination of all these factors (and more) reach a crescendo before Spring finally arrives, and diverts us with its beauty.
How to deal all that weighty negativity? I think rituals of acceptance are the best way to move through it. Ask yourself (as I did): do you love and accept yourself? Really think about that. The person we spend the most time with is the one looking back at you in the mirror. As I pondered this question myself, I looked around at our community and noticed many posts of “imposter syndrome”, negative self-talk, and people being hard on themselves because their new year resolutions have already fallen off the rails. I glance down at my fluffy belly and wordlessly berate myself for not being more active. I give myself a hard time for not getting projects completed.
For me, action moves me through my negative feelings, so at least I feel as if I am accomplishing something. That in turn, pumps a little more positivity into my veins, and I can think more clearly and with much more perspective. Rituals of Acceptance are simple, taking the time to truly focus on yourself, and what you love about yourself. It helps the energy shift from “I suck!” so “Hey, I actually have a lot to be proud of and be grateful for in my life.” It doesn’t happen automatically, and it may take some time. The rewards are worth it.
Upon reflection, I realized that I am very perfunctory when I look at myself in the mirror. I do the mere basics and keep it moving. When I held my gaze in the mirror longer, I became uncomfortable. Why? Well, I have a long and tangled history with mirrors and how I look, and I never really spent much time thinking about it, honestly. It was ignored and swept under the rug. Below is a ritual I ended up creating so that I could be a bit more comfortable holding my own gaze. It helped.
Mirror Acceptance Ritual
A lit candle (because we all look lovely in the candlelight)
Take some time to gaze at yourself in the mirror. Really gaze at yourself, and look at the shape of your face, your eye color, the shape of your lips. Don’t allow negative self-talk, as this is an exercise of focusing on what you like and love about yourself. Take as long as you need, and hold your gaze for as long as you are comfortable. When you are done, give yourself a hug, and cradle your face in a hug as well. Rub your forehead, touch the tops of your ears and brush your cheekbones. You have spent some time with, and acknowledged the most important person in your life: you. Revel in that.
Another ritual I like to do combines the energy clearing effects of a bath, along with a little bit of self-love and magical intention. If you don’t have a bathtub, see if you can visit a friend who does, or take a steamy shower and have the herbs hang in a cotton bag from the shower head.
Ritual Acceptance Bath
Bath (or shower, see above)
Epsom salts (about 2 cups)
Lavender essential oil (5-10 drops)
Small cotton bag or cheesecloth & kitchen twine
Approximately one tablespoon each of sage, rosemary and mint (fresh if possible, but also fine to use kitchen herbs from your spice cabinet)
Fill a tub with your preferred temperature of water. Add epsom salts. Add lavender essential oil drops (or find epsom salts with lavender already added and skip this step).
Place rose quartz by the tub where you can reach it.
Place herbs in cotton bag or make a small bag of cheesecloth and kitchen twine. Add to bath water, and allow the herbs to steep for a bit.
Ease yourself in the tub, and make sure every part of you has contact with the water. Scoop up some water in your hand, and pour it over your head and arms. When you are completely immersed, take three deep breaths. Inhale the scent of the herbs. Hold the rose quartz in your left hand, and from the top of your head, start listing one thing about yourself that you like/love: my hair is clean and healthy, my brain is active and engaged, my arms are strong, my hands are capable…
Be as creative as you’d like, and yes, you may feel a bit silly. Get used to it. Acclimate yourself to saying positive things about yourself, and send those words and that energy outward from your mouth to the sacred space that is your bath. Continue with this until you are at the bottom of your feet, and let the words linger in the air. Offer gratitude for this moment, and hold onto the rose quartz until you feel complete. Continue with your bath, and as the drain the tub, watch the water swirl downward. Visualize all the negative thoughts of yourself swirling downward with the water. Repeat this ritual as often as needed, or at least once a month.
Those are two very simple rituals that have helped me with self-love and acceptance. The intention of these rituals is to embrace gratitude, and to help the process of being comfortable in your own skin. You can adapt your own rituals, using items you have on hand, and following your intuition as to what helps you best.
I don’t find it a coincidence that Valentine’s Day is in February, Commercialism aside, it is an exercise to embrace love in all forms, including loving yourself. Get really solid in your practice, so that once winter passes, you are on a solid foundation to embrace the rest of your year. Blessed Be!