What is a ritual? And more importantly what is its value?
Let’s begin by stating the simple facts about rituals.
Rituals are a feature of all known human societies and are a part of every life. Communal rituals include worship rites and sacraments of religions, rites of passage, atonement and purification rites, oaths of allegiance, dedication ceremonies, births, marriages and funerals, graduations, club meetings, and sporting events.
However, the individual ritual is the foundation of who we are, how we express ourselves and how we choose to lead our lives. Many of us combine communal rituals that have been taught and passed down to us with our own creative interpretation. As we become more global we learn about each other and I believe we adopt certain parts of rituals from other cultures that resonate with us.
My life is full of rituals, some I practice daily, and some more sporadically or perhaps for special occasions. My guide for daily rituals comes from my favorite quote, which many of you have already seen: “The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” T. Moore
Everything we do, no matter how small, if done with presence and intention, can transform itself into a ritual. Here’s an example of one of my daily rituals: when bathing, I take a deep breath while in a steamy shower with my favorite fragranced soap… I close my eyes and visualize every drop of water purifying my body; I then visualize the flower or tree that the aroma reminds me of and I linger in gratefulness. This little ritual takes 20 seconds.
There are literally hundreds of opportunities each day to create rituals and ending with a brief moment of gratefulness at the end of each ritual is a wonderful closure to then move onto your next activity.
Here’s a small list of what we do every day where you can begin integrating presence and ritual into your life:
All systems body check before getting up…how do you feel?
Going over your Life Write (watch the documentary Being in Heaven)
Bathing – see above
Making your first cup of tea or coffee – challenge yourself to smell before you drink.
Before you get behind the wheel – wish yourself a safe return and thank your car for its service.
Smile at yourself in the mirror - it feels really good. Then smile at others.
Put yourself last – hold back an opinion, a statement or edict. Instead listen.
Walk away – both mentally and physically when you are in an uncomfortable situation. Take a moment to analyze what just happened. Be grateful.
Eat with gusto – smell first, then take a moment to anticipate your first bite. Trust me, it will taste so much better.
As you turn in for the evening, in your bed. Feel your sheets, feel the warmth and protection they give. Give yourself a hug. You did it!!! Another day!!!
Simply put, rituals are important.