Smudging is an ancient practice used in Native American traditions to clear your body, mind and spirit of any negative, stagnant or unhealthy energies within or around you.
There are many rituals from Shamanic and Yogic lineages which involve the practice of purifying, using the elements and sacred plant medicine. When these rituals are done with reverence and authenticity, they help connect us to a higher source through clearing negative energies and calling in our highest intentions. Through the act of preparing and performing these ceremonies, we are awakened to nature and the intelligence and Divine wisdom it holds.
Smudging can be done as a traditional art form as well as adapted to fit your Sadhana, daily practice.
Here's some tips to begin your very own Smudging ritual:
1. Create your bundle: take yourself on a walking meditation and forage in your backyard for beautiful herbs, plants and barks that you would like to include. When you create your own bundle from local resources, the ritual becomes even more personalized and unique to you! Dried sage bundles are always a good 'base' item you can purchase if you are unsure of where to begin...look for ethically sourced sage from an organic shop if possible.
2. Create a sacred space: clear your space of clutter and open up windows/curtains and allow for fresh air to enter. If you have an alter space you can use this area and store your smudging items when your not using them. Creating a space that feels clean, safe and supportive will help focus your attention.
3. Become present: move through the ritual mindfully and slowly. Take 3 cleansing breaths to center yourself before you begin. With a greater sense of presence, you will be more likely to move through the practice with sacredness and reverence for the plants (Divine nature) and anyone else (ancestors, current loved ones, people in your life) you would like to acknowledge and bless.
4. Call in the four directions: the four directions (East, South, West, North) symbolize the various dimensions of health and the cycles of life. Calling in these directions acknowledges your whole and complete Self. In Native American tradition, various tribes interpret the Medicine Wheel differently, however the four directions most often correspond to the following:
Stages of life: birth, youth, adult (or elder), death
Seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter, fall
Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical
Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, and earth
5. Practice with heart: this is the most important thing to remember when moving through any spiritual ritual/ceremony...it is so easy to go through the motions and become mindless, even when in our spiritual practices. Be sure that you are smudging from a place of intuition and loving attention. Smudging may be a daily practice for you, or it may be something you do on special occasions - when you smudge authentically and from the heart, there is no way to do it wrong. When you are ready to light your sage (or other herbs), acknowledge any intention(s) you are setting with the ritual. Become present to the elements as you light your bundle, and gently fan the smoke with a feather (or your hand) around your body, anyone else in your space and the room, symbolizing the clearing and purification.
A Smudging Prayer by Bess O'Connor
May your hands be cleansed, that they create beautiful things.
May your feet be cleansed, that they might take you where you most need to be.
May your heart be cleansed, that you might hear its messages clearly.
May your throat be cleansed, that you might speak rightly when words are needed.
May your eyes be cleansed, that you might see the signs and wonders of the world.
May this person and space be washed clean by the smoke of these fragrant plants.
And may that same smoke carry our prayers, spiraling, to the heavens.
LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here