Why We Need Rituals in Our Day
Growing up I struggled with how my mum followed rituals when she couldn’t explain why. She would light incense, say prayers around the house and do things ceremoniously. To my inquisitive self it seemed daft, and being a somewhat obnoxious teenager i didn’t hold back on telling her so.
As a 19 year old I learnt Reiki. I loved the simplicity of the hands on work, sensing the warmth and tingling that ran through my hands. I had a newly discovered and deep passion for hands-on treatment. I went on to study further, but the deeper i went the more frustrated with the advanced levels of Reiki as they were full of symbols and rituals that felt superfluous. I even retook some of the basic level courses hoping that I could understand more. I couldn’t understand why it had to be so complicated. The simplicity of the practice stirred something up in me, but the mystical aspect of symbols repelled me.
Although the word ritual has religious connotations, it means doing things in a particular order or customary way. Families have rituals- such as Sunday afternoon movies or having a particular dessert for special occasions. Socially there are rituals such as hand-shaking, setting the table or writing thank you letters. Yogis know the beauty of the ritual of rolling out the yoga mat before they practice. Weddings and funerals are full of rituals such as ‘something borrowed, something blue’, cutting the cake and the first dance. Sportsmen often have rituals around when they change rackets or what socks they wear to give them good luck in a tournament. Even when people are not religious, rituals still hold the energy of intention. I am not observant to a religion, but I appreciate the repetition as it strengthens energy. Chanting sacred mantras for example, even if I don’t understand the meaning of the words, have an effect of noticeably changing the vibe in a room.
Zero-balancing is a type of bodywork and also a philosophy for life which looks at both structure and energy. Zero-balancing follows a protocol, where different things are done in order, but with the freedom to adapt the session to the needs of the client. I liken rituals to structure. Without them, there’s nowhere for energy to flow. Rituals are a container for other things to work with. My zero balancing reacher encouraged me to slow down and be present to the structure when I was itching to freestyle, likening it to a musician practicing scales before he can riff.
My personal rituals are built around the senses. Seasonal rituals such as hot cider and pub lunches in the winter make way for Pimm’s and picnics in the summer. I light a candle in the evening. In the absence of having a wood burner, it’s my way of tending the fire. Joan Didion wrote about it so beautifully in her memoir. "Fires said we were home, we had drawn the circle, we were safe through the night.”
I am not a creature of habit. I need to mix it up. At times I have played with morning rituals, with meditation, journalling and movement. My mainstay for feeling well include epsom salt baths, hot water with lemon, reading, and stretching. If I am giving a talk or teaching, I take my shoes off wherever possible to feel grounded, and take bach flower remedies to quell nerves. I know it’s important for me to have rituals to steer me in the direction of being healthy and well, whilst not sticking too dogmatically to them if I need more flow.
I’d love to hear what your personal rituals are and why?
For more reading on rituals, have a look at this article on the science of rituals:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/