At some point we have all had some type of ritual or tradition in our lives, from Sunday dinners with family or friends to bedtime stories to pumpkin picking in the fall. Even if we were not blessed with a supportive family structure, we had traditions connected to school or community.
There are many types of rituals. Many of us are familiar with initiatory rituals, or those that celebrate a rite of passage. These traditions may have been passed down through the generations or they may be part of our governmental structure. Some carry on from our childhood into our adult lives. They all balance us and make us feel grounded.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a ritual is “the established form for a ceremony…an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set, precise manner”.
Rituals have four specific parts to them.
1 -They need to be something that is set apart from other things. In other words, they should be kept in a way that is not the ordinary.
2 -They should elicit some kind of feeling. This feeling may be awe, respect, fascination or something specific to you.
3 -They should support your belief systems. This does not mean religious beliefs, although they may apply to some of your rituals.
4 -They need to be symbolic. A ritual needs to symbolize something specific to those participating.
My favorite rituals and traditions over time have related to time spent with family. I have also been lucky enough to be included in other peoples traditions. Unexpected things can come of this type of participation.
A few years ago we were living in a more populated area that supported a branch of a large bakery chain. My husband and I would go there every Sunday morning for cappuccino and breakfast.
We met an elderly man there and learned stopped every morning on his way to the nursing home where his wife lived. The three of us enjoyed visiting and talking each week. One weekend he was not there. We did not know why.
About this same time, my mother was in need of skilled nursing care for a few months. It was necessary for me to move her over 300 miles to be near us. One day after she was settled in, I met here at the long term care facilty for lunch.
It was a pleasant surprise to encounter the man with whom we had shared pleasant mornings. We were happy to reconnect but sorry to learn that his wife had passed shortly after he joined her there.
His presence was a gift for my mother. She was able to meet someone that we knew as she established herself in a new place.
While our coffee and pastry date was a ritual that we had created for connection, other rituals can be very personal.
I experience chronic pain and have a few self-care rituals that meet those criteria. The one self-care ritual that I find it hard to do without is a warm shower before bed. I can not do this early in the evening. If I do, then I need to take another one at bedtime or I am unable to fall asleep. This sets it apart.
It supports a sense that the day is done and I can relax fully. It creates a feeling of relief.
I believe that cleaning my body before sleep and creating a sense of calm are both healthy and restorative.
This shower symbolizes that the day is done. It is time to wash away the day and prepare for sleep.
I would love to know about your rituals and traditions. Drop me a line if you feel like sharing.
Want to dive a little deeper into how to create a ritual for yourself? Join me for Unlock Your Magic! You can learn more here.
I will see you soon,