Spring is coming! With the arrival of Spring comes the rituals of Spring cleaning and the season of Lent and sacrifice. I started to think about how important are rituals in our modern day lives and if they are still necessary, or are they something we just do out of habit.
According to an article in Scientific American (5/14/13) rituals play an important role in society and remind us of what is important. They also provide a sense of stability and continuity in our lives. Yoga Journal (3/16/12) suggests that rituals return us to what matters. Mama Donna Henes, an urban shaman, says the need for rituals is a basic human instinct and remind us of a larger, archetypal reality and invokes in us a visual understanding of universal paradigms like unity, continuity, connectivity, reverence and awe. Yoga Journal says rituals help us break the patterns of the mundane and return us to the sacred. The Doylestown Masonic Lodge says that every culture in every part of the world has engaged in rituals, suggesting they are a fundamental part of the human condition. Rituals are tools humans have used to release and express emotion, build personal identity and the identity of the tribe, bring order to chaos, orient themselves in time and space, effect real transformation, and bring layers of meaning and texture to their lives.
Now that we have established that rituals are indeed important in our lives, let’s try to understand what is a ritual. Surprisingly, it can be anything that makes the ordinary seem special. Here is a list of common rituals many of us participate in:
In my personal life, I have created some rituals that are unique to me and my experience. I take ritual baths. I participate in prayer chains and religious ceremonies. I sing my daughter a special song on her birthday. I do the Spring cleaning of our home, a chore I would love to hire out, but there is something wonderful about a fresh start. I have started participating in New Moon circles and I use intention. I create. I tell my husband everyday I love him and how happy he makes me and I sage! sage! sage! Clearly, my family is important to me and I use rituals so they will be reminded how much I value them and the rituals remind me to never take them for granted.
Research by Scientific American also suggests that rituals can enhance our confidence, improve subsequent performance, improve attention and increase emotional stability. As we move into the new season, what are some rituals you could create to bring more mindfulness or relaxation into your life? Do you do yoga, meditate, journal, start each day with a new intention?
Life is a journey we are traveling together. Until next time,