Ritual? Habit? What's the diff?

Hello goddess! Welcome back to Food, Fun, and Spirituality with Christa and Shasha. Last week we talked about goddesses and elements, which we both choose to incorporate into our spiritual practice. This week we would like to delve a little more deeply into spiritual practice in general, as well as food relationship, and how these two disciplines can be used to transform your health and wellbeing.

Shasha: Christa, let’s start by discussing food relationship. What does it mean to have one and why is it important to have awareness of it?

Christa: Your food relationship is like any other relationship in your life - it’s how you interact with the food you eat, how it serves you (or doesn’t), how you nourish the relationship (or don’t), and what you believe about yourself because of it. Like any relationship, we come to it with habits, patterns, beliefs, and assumptions that usually don’t get our attention until they’re harming us. For the women I’ve worked with those symptoms often include not fitting into their skinny jeans, feeling ashamed for eating dessert, or doing the cravings vs. willpower dance to the point of exhaustion. It’s ok if you’ve never thought of it this way before; most people haven’t. Recognizing that you have a food relationship is a great place to start. From there,  you can  learn to cultivate a healthy relationship with your food, which can be a transformative portal for healing. Instead of engaging in a battle of wills, ‘shoulding’ all over yourself, and ending up in a shame spiral, you get to become a detective to unravel your body’s secret code!

Shasha, what does it mean to have a spiritual practice?

Shasha: Spiritual practice means very different things to different people. I grew up in a religious setting where there were very clear rules and guidelines about what we should do, and when. Over years of exploration I have come to see that a rigid set of rules doesn’t work for me. What is most important to me is to feel the presence of Spirit - I’m a “feely” person so the things that work best for me are “feely” things like meditation, chanting, and journeying as well as yoga of course! Some need more structure than that. The most important thing is to have a regular practice incorporating the elements that are meaningful to you, be it oracle cards, affirmations or a physical practice. Conduct the ritual in a way that expresses your unique flavour and it will become a part of your expression of life.

Do you use rituals when working on your food relationship?

Christa: For sure! Even if you don’t realize it, you probably have food rituals already - your morning coffee, your afternoon snack, or your evening glass of wine. When I work with women around rituals, we consider what they are and how they’re serving you (or not). From there, we can use existing rituals to enhance wellbeing by adding another component (think of habit-stacking - using one habit that’s already in place to anchor another you’d like to incorporate). Or, by investigating what the ritual is intended to serve, we can adjust some components so that it achieves the intention. For instance, I’m working with a woman right now who has adrenal fatigue and so cannot drink coffee. By digging deeper into what her coffee ritual means to her, we discovered it’s a moment of quiet reflection and the warm beverage is soothing (like a mini-retreat!). So, we explored other warm beverage options (hearty, rich, and flavorful) to replace the coffee component that was not serving her, while keeping the part of the ritual that does (sitting quietly in reflection).

Shasha: I can so relate to that! Every time I go to teach at the Yoga Shed I ritualise that coffee after class, in the presence of such loving people. At Feel Hot Yoga it is a cup of green tea with my friend on Reception. Even retreat itself becomes a ritual, annually, seasonally, taking that space to connect for a longer period to the Divine Life Force. So what would we say is the difference between rituals and habits or patterns? For me it’s about intention and honouring the moment. Would you agree?

Christa: I do agree. Intention and how it’s serving you are common themes in my work. I often say that most people use food as comfort or reward at some point. The thing to ask yourself is to what extent is this behavior having a negative impact on your life? If your health is suffering, you’re unhappy with your weight, you beat yourself up, or you obsess over what (or what not) to eat, then it’s likely some of your behaviors are not serving you.

Shasha: Wow! We’ve covered so much ground this week! But hopefully our readers can start to get a picture of how spiritual practice, food relationship and the rituals that characterise each become intrinsically woven into our lives, whether we intend it or not. More transformation comes when we put intention behind all of that.

With the demands of modern life it is easy to relegate our sacred rituals to the lowest priority as we serve the needs of others. Acknowledging, and then taking the time to retreat (even for five minutes a day) is an important ritual for nourishing your body, mind, and soul. Still not convinced? Consider this - when you are well nourished, you can be of more service to others. Makes sense, right? So if you’re feeling guilty about taking time for yourself, see what happens when you consider it in service to others.

What are the rituals you incorporate into your day and how are they serving you? Let us know in the comments below!

P.S. Are you craving some nourishing restoration? Click here to be the first to know when registration opens for our upcoming retreat!

About our guest, Shasha Crow

About our guest, Shasha Crow