Let’s talk about ritual…
Ritual is not only important for your spiritual practice, but also for your well-being. Ritual provides context for what is about to come, allows there to be a sense of the sacred even in the mundane, and delineates a special occasion or rite of passage with a greater sense of ease and aspect of social bonding necessary for our nervous systems. Research by van Mulukom into religious rituals in Brazil and the UK determined that taking part in rituals boosted pain thresholds and the ability to experience positive emotions, which increased social bonding in both religious and secular groups. One of the earliest examples of human ritual practice is thought to be a carving of a python in a cave in Botswana, Southern Africa, dating back 70,000 years.
Rituals can involve gestures, words, actions, or a performed sequence of events that you weave into your daily life to make everything a little more magical. They turn small everyday acts into something more significant or momentous. One of the keys to happiness is the ability to savor the moment (Dr. Laurie Santos, Yale University) and rituals help us do just that.
Research data also demonstrates that rituals are important during the dying process and can help alleviate grief by instilling a sense of balance and control. Rituals are equally important in times of birth, transformation, and rites of passage through liminal spaces. They mark time when we are “betwixt and between”.
What rituals do you enjoy or bring into your daily life?
Here is a quick guide to creating more rituals and holding sacred space for yourself and others.
Create a set of symbolic elements – things that have personal meaning to you or your group – that you use to mark the beginning. Turn down the lights, light a candle, burn smudge (ethically sourced of course), and create an atmosphere of sacredness.
Allow there to be a predictable structure of a beginning, a middle, and an end. Begin with the breath, a pause, intention setting, a centering practice, and an incantation. Next, move into the meat of your ritual – the core of your content. And finally, create a marked ending by blowing out the candle, offering a closing prayer, a moment of gratitude.
After closing the ritual, allow time for integration. Create an opportunity for sharing or journaling, the embodiment of what transpired through movement or a way of marking the event as special and momentous.
Utilizing the power of ritual will not only improve your overall well-being but will also provide memories for years to come.
Check out this beautiful offering on rituals for the end of life I created with nine beautiful souls.
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash