Restorative Rituals

Ideas and Inspiration for Self-Care


By Leslie Koren

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This tidy volume is filled with simple, impactful ways to practice self-care and mindfulness, arranged into three chapters: Nurture, Release, and Expand. In Nurture, author Leslie Koren teaches readers to make a simple moisturizing face mask and do a loving-kindness meditation. In Release, she encourages readers to let go of what is weighing on them by having a solo dance party or tending to an altar. And in Expand, she invites readers to stargaze, perform a body appreciation ritual, chant a mantra, and learn the art of sound bathing. Each prompt includes straightforward instructions as well as ways to personalize and improvise the idea. Each chapter also includes its own series of yoga poses, and a “self-care kit” with recommendations for essential oils, crystals, incense, tea blends, and more.

This beautifully photographed book will make for a thoughtful, loving gift—perfect for Mom, a recent graduate, or someone in need of little extra care, or as a way to treat yourself!



Get still in a forest, allowing the streams of light dappling through the leaves to wash over you. Lose yourself while making a mandala, with its utterly satisfying mix of order and creativity. Take time for a face mask, a foot soak, or a special cup of tea. The rituals that follow deliver the respite you desire and deserve.

Forest Bathing

Seeing the harmful effects of tech culture and increasing nature deprivation in Japan, a seemingly brilliant government minister introduced the concept of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” in the early 1980s as an antidote to rising stress levels. Studies showed that it works so well—just a few hours in the forest lowers blood pressure, improves sleep, and boosts moods—that Japanese doctors now prescribe forest bathing! The program led to the creation of official healing forests throughout Japan and sparked a global movement that gets people into, and better appreciating, the woods. To be clear, forest bathing is not about pushing yourself to go on a long hike or climbing to the top of a tall mountain; rather, it entails simply letting the scents and sounds of a forest wash over you.

Before you enter the woods, put away your phone and camera (the point is to be device-free) and look for a threshold to mark the beginning of your forest bath: the sign at the trailhead or the natural archway when you go from clearing to woodlands. Just like a building's doorway, the natural threshold helps transition into the new space. Once you've crossed over, tune in to your body and your senses. Stay still, sitting or standing, and listen for birds, falling twigs, rushing water. Look at the different shades of greens and browns, or observe how the sunlight dapples leaves. Touch soft moss and peeling bark. Hold a rock in your hand. Inhale the aromas of the trees and leaves. Close your eyes for a few moments. When you're ready, ask your body what it wants—to stay in place or start moving. If the latter, go slowly, resisting the urge to assume your normal hiking pace, and make it a walking meditation. Watch where you place your foot, pay attention to your breathing, and realize that, here in this forest, you are part of a world in motion—animals, water, wind. Your forest bath can take thirty minutes or three hours. As you return to the threshold, notice how you feel and offer your appreciation to the forest and its gifts. Make sure to leave no trace of your visit so that the forest, too, can continue to thrive.


To take this concept one step further, spend a half hour each day “earthing” or “grounding.” Proponents believe physically touching the electricity on the Earth's surface minimizes inflammation, reduces chronic pain, and improves sleep. The research isn't yet conclusive, but regardless, I find it's powerful to really feel the earth under my feet or seat—appreciating the age-old solidity of the land and tapping into its energy and vitality. Test it out for yourself by finding a patch of grass where you can walk around barefoot or a rock to lay your head on. I suspect you'll feel quite recharged.

A Nourishing Pink Mask

Strawberries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, which protect your skin and brighten your complexion. And because they are acidic, they'll remove dead skin cells and help prevent breakouts. Combined with yogurt (an anti-inflammatory moisturizer) and honey (which also cleans, exfoliates, and more), strawberries make a highly effective and delicious-smelling face mask. Apply it and let it sit on your face while you take a bath or shower for an extra-relaxing at-home treatment. Makes 1 mask

2 medium strawberries

2 tablespoons (30 g) full-fat Greek yogurt, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon (5 ml) honey

Using an immersion blender or a mini food processor, blend the strawberries, yogurt, and honey until they form a smooth paste. If the end result is too watery, add more yogurt. Apply to your face, avoiding the eyes and lips, and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Wash off with warm water.

Doing a Loving-Kindness Meditation

As the train speeds under Lower Manhattan, I sit with my eyes closed, silently repeating caring wishes directed at the riders sitting on either side of me: May you be happy, may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live with ease. . . . A few minutes earlier, they were strangers—because my eyes are closed, I don't even know what they look like—but by focusing my attention on their presence, they've become individuals with families and futures.

What's often lost in the discussion of self-care is how integral it is to recognize our interconnectedness. The more we see humanity in others, the stronger we feel it in ourselves. That's the genius of the Buddhist loving-kindness, or metta, meditation. You begin by offering care to yourself, then move on to others in your life and throughout the world. I've found that putting this positive energy into the atmosphere is one of the surest ways to nurture my spirit—even (especially?) on the subway! No matter where you deploy the practice, I expect it will be a restorative ritual for you as well.

To get yourself situated, sit down, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. You've arrived in this moment, and that's wonderful. For the next ten to fifteen minutes, you're essentially going to recite the same script, directed toward a series of different people. There are many versions of the loving-kindness meditation; feel free to customize them to your liking, while keeping the general sentiment intact. You may find a script and never budge, or you may go through phases with phrases. Whatever you do, don't get too caught up in the exact words—they don't have to convey everything.

Below is a version to get you started. As you say the sentences in your head, focus on the feeling behind the statements. Begin by directing the messages to yourself:

May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I live with ease.

A little advance warning here: It might feel difficult to direct loving thoughts to yourself. Most of us are more practiced in harsh, negative self-talk. If you find yourself experiencing judgment (“This ritual is dumb”), irritation (“What a waste of time”), or other feelings of resistance, simply notice it and return to your script; time and practice make it easier.


On Sale
Dec 21, 2021
Page Count
104 pages

Leslie Koren

About the Author

Leslie Koren is the author of Love Rituals, Morning Rituals, and Restorative Rituals. A longtime newspaper crime reporter, Koren took her career in a new direction when she started writing about more joyful things: cooking, design, family, and happiness. The former editor of Crain’s 5boros, she has written for various national and local publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two daughters.

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