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I am a big fan of rituals. When I am able to engage in my daily rituals I am a happier person. When I have/take the time to eat my bowl of cereal and read the paper, drink my coffee and read my favorite blogs and then take Mocha for a walk, I feel better. I love the rituals I have with my friends, ways we say good-bye or traditions we have when we get together. I love my family rituals, especially the rituals we have around Christmas. Rituals give us a sense of tradition and closeness. They allow us to pause and savor the moment. Whether they be ‘coffee time’ every morning or lighting the candles at dinner, rituals give us a moment to breathe and take notice. Friends of mine have a ritual of eating together as a family and then the two of them with their 3 little ones go around the table and share what they are happy about on that particular day. Such a wonderful ritual of pause, connection, peace and gratitude.
Rituals don’t have to be something we repeat. Rituals also help us process change and transition. It is why we have weddings, blessings, funerals and baptisms. Rituals give us a pause to acknowledge a change, loss, or gift. These change events don’t need to be giant or monumental. Sometimes we might need to have a ritual around something that just feels giant to us like a break-up of an important relationship, loss of a job, moving from a house or making a big decision. These rituals can be as small as writing a letter and burning it, lighting a candle, or closing a door and saying a blessing. The rituals that help us heal don’t have to be giant ceremonial rituals, they can take place on a much smaller level.
Over the past few weeks I have made a pretty major decision about my future. This decision deals with my health, my relationships, my lifestyle, and my future. All and all it has felt pretty monumental in my world. I feel great about this decision and know it is the right one for me, however it still has left me feeling a little sad because in choosing one option I lose another. So I decided to design my own ritual around it. It was a short simple ritual that I performed alone in my back yard. I admit at first, I felt pretty silly, but once I had completed the ritual I felt like a weight had been lifted. The ritual gave me the chance to pause and honor the difficulty of the choice. It simultaneously allowed me to honor the part of me that was sad about the decision and the part of me that was celebrating.
That is the beauty of rituals, they allow us to hold both. During the ritual of a funeral we are celebrating a person’s life and grieving over the loss of them in our day to day lives. At a wedding we are celebrating the gaining of a partner and acknowledging the loss of our single life. I believe we need more of these little individual rituals that just allow us to pause and honor the transitions, decisions and changes that happen in our lives. Repetitive rituals allow us to savor and pause the miracle of every day life. While unique special rituals allow us to savor and pause the blessing and challenges of change and transitions.
What are some of your favorite rituals? Do you think rituals are a necessary part of life? Have you ever performed or participated in a non-traditional/unorthodox ritual?