The In-Gathering

As I worked through what I need after feeling invisible, experiencing invalidation or simply having a stressful day, I realized my inner world is best honored by ritual. My spirituality is at its deepest when I follow my own natural rhythms. Whenever and wherever, I can honor each part of myself. I invite you to customize the following for your own practice.

Setting the Scene

Create a space for ritual. This can be as simple as lighting a candle, laying out a special cloth, or brewing a cup of tea. It can be creating an elaborate altar or traveling to a place in nature to which you feel called. All that matters is that it is made sacred by your intentional presence.

Begin by centering yourself on your breath. Invite your senses in, one-by-one. If you having trouble focusing, play calming music or listen to nature sounds.

A Safe Place for All

In turn, welcome* each part of self. Some I chose to honor are the vulnerable, the eager, the nurturing, the brave and the wise. You may have other parts that need representation. Allow each to share with you whatever they want to share, without judgement. Ask the other parts to sit back and grant space while each one shares. Parts may make a request of others, which should be held with care.

Body, Heart, Mind and Spirit

After each part has shared, concentrate again on your breath. Inhabit every corner of your body. Listen to your body as a whole and through its systems, observing what it needs. Focus on what it may want to reveal or release.

Allow your emotions to channel and course through your body. Meet each one with a loving embrace. Notice them shift and dance.

Attend to your mental state. Notice the pattern and pace of your thoughts. Observe them come and go.

Finally, turn to your Spirit. Allow it to reveal itself to you through your senses. Touch the moon and sun cycles, the sky, earth, rain and fire and the season. Let nature guide you deeper into your soul.

Symbols of Love

Breath again, and ask of yourself, all of yourself present, what love looks like here and now. To the best of your ability, provide this love to yourself. Note any hesitancy, and then move through it with care. Embrace yourself.

A Closing Prayer

Finalize your ritual by spending time in quiet meditation, honoring yourself for making time to gather yourself whole and to recognize your worth. Incorporate whatever words and movements feel holy in this moment. Be the prayer your soul needs to feel.

*If you are new to inner/self-work and you hold a trauma history, this practice could be destabilizing. I encourage you to first work with a trusted therapist before engaging in this ritual and to take as slow of a pace as needed. Self-care practices such as spending time in nature, running a gentle bath or settling into your breath may be safe places to start to connect with parts of self.

Reading a Book Chapter (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

For the past several months, one of the books I’ve been perusing is Trans Love: An Anthology of Transgender and Non-Binary Voices, edited by Freiya Benson. As someone who is asexual, panromantic and rather love-averse, I’ve connected with some of the writings more than others so far in my reading, but have appreciated all of the authors’ perspectives. The chapter I read for today’s simple pleasure was written by Freiya Benson herself and was titled “Fucking Feelings.”

I think the name of the chapter could be taken two ways–how it feels to have emotional reactions to relationships, but also the feelings one has about having sex. The chapter interwove both strands but focused more on the first. I connected a lot with the author’s depiction of the highs that come with closeness with another person, and the lows that come when it ends. As she described it, “I don’t know where to put them [feelings] when they become memories.” (pg. 83). It feels good to know that I’m not alone in finding the grief and sense of loss that comes with attempts at love to be bewildering. For the time being, I think I’ve become self-protective and withdrawn from it. The chapter as a whole helped me further my self-reflection on the topic. What’s a good book chapter you’ve read lately?