by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, CDE & Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB
“Ritual has its genesis in the movements of the soul and in our need to express ourselves through story, symbol and action.” —by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat–
As summer winds down and Fall is on the horizon—it is a good time to take stock of ourselves and ask: “What is next for me this coming Season?”
In our fast-paced, ever-changing world– RITUALS can help us transition more smoothly from one Season into the next.
The Change of Seasons is also a perfect time to reassess the RITUALS we practice consciously, as well as “on automatic pilot.”
- Which rituals do we enjoy and want to keep?
- Which ones can be emotional (such as family gatherings) but we still want to keep due to tradition and connection?
- Which ones do we want to discard or let go?
- Which ones need new life breathed into them?
- Can we create NEW rituals— to add meaning and focus into our lives right now?
As we discussed in our earlier August BLOG, Rituals have been part of human life for millennia. They are part of the human soul. (The word ritual is contained within the word spi-ritual.)
WHAT is A RITUAL? To review: “A ritual is a set of actions or system of rites, often performed for symbolic value”; they can add meaning and mindfulness to our lives. They can be done privately, socially in large groups, or globally—like New Year’s Eve celebrations!
Rituals can be: traditional celebrations such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals (celebrations of life),and religious holidays.
***Religious and spiritual practices abound with BLESSINGS for every sort of occasion. The giving and receiving of a BLESSING is a RITUAL.***
Rituals can be creative, sacred, and inspirational. They can involve movement, dance and song.
Rituals can also be used in “grounding ways” to add structure and “touch-stones” to our lives.
A powerful ritual can enhance your awareness level and energize your intentions.
*** ”We can only really access the depths of our minds, hearts, and souls when we perform certain physical acts with our bodies consistently as rituals.” *** (fromThe Transformative Power of Ritual, The Jewish Journal)
Rituals can also be performed in dysfunctional and distractive ways—as in obsessive-compulsive and addiction behaviors. Such patterns keep us STUCK– preventing growth and expansion in our lives. NOTE:Professional help may be necessary to help recognize, dismantle and replace dysfunctional habits.
QUESTION: HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN RITUALS HAVE BECOME AUTOMATIC, STALE, and IN NEED of RE-EVALUATION?
- Although rituals can add great meaning to our lives, they can also keep us in stuck places that need to CHANGE! If you find yourself mindlessly performing certain routines and rituals and “not being present” for them—reconsider what place they have in your life. For guidance on this topic: See: Rituals Create New Habits to Replace the Ones that have Kept You Stuck in an Old Reality, by Laura Day 1-23-2011. http://www.howtoruletheworldfromyourcouch.com/?p=2954)
Steps to get ‘stuck energy’ moving:
- Create some time for introspection and self-reflection.
- Get a new journal, some plain paper or open up a new folder on the computer.
- Write down traditional rituals you observe in one calendar year. (the ones that happen year after year after year—e.g. birthdays, religious holidays, national holidays, change of season events).
- Write down daily, weekly, and monthly rituals.
- Record any special events that you are expecting in the next 12 months: e.g. a 25th anniversary celebration.
It can be quite revealing what daily rituals and routines are important to us— ones we don’t even realize!!! If you think you don’t have set daily rituals, ask yourself: “What are the ‘must’ things I do consistently to start my day? Brushing one’s teeth each morning is a healthful ritual for oral hygiene. But rushing out the door– with no breakfast– is a non-healthful ritual.
After introspection and record-keeping—decide what rituals are working for you, which ones need “new energy”, and what new ritual(s) you may want to create.
STEPS to create NEW rituals— that will support your passage to a higher level of being and enjoyment in life.
- Breathing New Life into Old Rituals:
–Add a Gratitude Blessing at your next family birthday party. Invite those who want to say a few words to share.
—At your next family holiday reunion: intend to be there “in the present moment” and in a state of ACCEPTANCE and NEUTRALITY. Simply being in these elevated states of awareness will breathe new life into old traditions and elevate the whole group.
- Creating Rituals in the Work World
–Start your work day from “a high vibe place.” For example: take a walk outside or go to the gym before heading to the office. Carry that energetic vibe through the whole day. Get up a few minutes earlier each day; and get ready consciously. Intend not to rush.
This month, pay attention to your daily routine habits. Note which ones keep you stuck in “an old reality”. Where can you say: “Time for a Change!!!? ” Replace an old worn-out habit with something new.
“It takes the brain 2 weeks to begin to unlearn a habit and replace it with a new one. There is actually a structural change in the brain the occurs after 2 weeks of attention to an act that you want to become unconscious or ‘automatic.’ (1-23-2011 article by Laura Day in howtoruletheworldfromyourcouch.com)
–When possible: try taking different routes to work— to keep the brain pathways flexible.
–Listen to inspirational seminars or a good book on CD while driving. Avoid high stress news reports on the Radio. Stay off your cell phone.
–Bring home-made lunches to work. Sit outside on nice weather days.
–Intend to take one or two 15-minute breaks and practice conscious breathing during the day. If you can’t do this at your desk—try it in the bathroom!
–Intend to engage as consciously as possible with those with whom you interact, either in person or on the phone, or by email..
- Creating a new Ritual for an upcoming Change of Season
–Make time to review the past season with a grateful heart for the blessings that occurred, as well as the challenges and “teachings.” You may wish to write down your thoughts.
–Welcome the new season on the horizon with awareness and openness. Try a short meditation, acknowledging the gifts of the coming season.
- Creating a new Ritual to honor and encourage your soul’s growth.
— Are you in the midst of a major transition or transformation in your life?
–A NEW RITUAL can help you HONOR this change; and help you focus. Create some time and space—to go within and see what your soul is asking of you. Use Music, dance, flowers and/or aromatherapy, or a walk in Nature to get in touch with yourself. You can use variations of these rituals for each new Season.
At their best, RITUALS help us connect more deeply with ourselves and others. They help keep us more AWARE and AWAKE. As Deepak Chopra states.
“When each moment is REAL, there is no need to rely on rituals and expectations to get you through the day.” —Deepak Chopra, MD
We wish you all an Autumn of Great Abundance!!!
The Wellness Shifter Ladies!!!!.
Deb and Wendy
- Blumenthal, Brett. 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Healthier, m Happier You. (A good book for support in anchoring in new rituals and changes).
- Imber-Black, Evan. PhD and Roberts, Janine, EdD. Rituals for our Times: Celebrating, Healing and Changing Our Lives and Our Relationships
- Pollack, Rachel. The Power of Ritual
- Creating New Rituals: Honor Your Whole Self http://www.themusicwithinus.com/2010/12/08/creating-new-rituals-honor-your-whole-self/
- Creating Sacred Space for Your Rituals. http://www.soaringinlight.com/Sacred_Space
- 25 Famous Thinkers and Their Inspiring Daily Rituals http://www.onlinecollege.org/2010/01/11/25-famous-thinkers-and-their-inspiring-daily-rituals/
- The Transformative Power of Ritual, 3-26-12. posted by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz http://www.jewishjournal.com/bloggish/item/the_transformative_power_of_ritual_20120326/
- The Value of Ritual in Your Work Day by Peter Bregman, 12-8-2010 http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2010/12/the-value-of-ritual-in-your-wo.html (Harvard Business Journal)