On a few occasions, I have written about the importance of rituals in one’s life. Too often rituals get a “bad rap” and we overlook how they can help us maintain our equilibrium.
We can benefit from rituals–those that are religious and those that are secular.
Some of us perform rituals to help reduce anxiety or increase confidence. People comment about feeling more balanced and connected during and after performing a particular ritual. For example, we may do something that helps to manage or relieve our grief. We may engage in some symbolic behavior before or after an event that is particularly meaningful to us. I know several people who do, say, or think a “particular something” before they hit a ball. Some rituals are just our own and we do them in isolation while others are performed within a group. We may spend time preparing for something in a very specific way or we may need to eat our old reliable comfort food breakfast before giving a presentation.
When we are personally involved in a ritual, our value of the experience increases. Psychological research demonstrates that there is a causal link between rituals and the way people think, feel and act. We seem to engage in rituals when we perceive that the situation is very important and there are elements that we perceive to be out of our control. Grief rituals seem to be especially powerful. Engaging in a grief ritual(s) appears to affect the mourner by having him or her feel less grief than did mourners who, for example, wrote about their loss but did not accompany that writing with a ritual.
It can be helpful to, every so often, reflect on some of our rituals and try to recall when and why they became rituals. Do they still serve us? How might we create other rituals to address where we are now, at this point in our lives and the marking of some aspect of our life?
Here are ideas to consider:
Ceremonies to acknowledge and strengthen bonds.
Ceremonies to acknowledge and sever bonds.
Ceremonies to acknowledge transitions / rites of passage / healing.