Ritual can be used wrongly, of course. But it can also be used rightly to give us courage and comfort, to inspire us, and help us meet the challenges that life brings.
In my early 20s, I ran into a very difficult time in my life when I returned home to London to “settle down” after spending some time in Southern Rhodesia and New Zealand. I felt confused and alienated from my British middle class background even as an inner voice proclaimed loudly and fiercely that there was a true purpose for my life and I needed to get busy and find it.
The day before leaving Auckland to sail home to England I had bought a book called Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. The little book “jumped” into my hand apparently by chance in a bookshop and went with me everywhere for two years.
I read a little bit of Whitman every day. The book was with me when I went to work as a reporter on the Daily Express newspaper in London. It was with me when I went sailing in my small boat on the Essex coast. It was still with me when at the age of 23 I went to British Columbia to find a new life.
Then one day I didn’t feel the need to read Walt Whitman any more. My "ritual" came to an end as naturally and spontaneously as it had begun. I still loved Walt but I didn't need his help any longer.
Rituals give structure to our lives. They give us a track to run on. The key, it seems to me, is being flexible, not afraid to follow new routines, particularly when they arise spontaneously in our lives, and not afraid to let them go when they have served their purpose.
Here are a few rituals that bring joy to my life
1. Abdominal breathing first thing in the morning and last thing at night helps bring calm and focus.
2. Working out at the gym makes me feel strong.
3. Telling JoAnn how wonderful she is makes me feel good.
4. Going to the coffee shop in the afternoon gets me away from my little office and gives me a chance to read and connect with other people, or perhaps not do anything at all.
5. Appreciating little moments opens my mind and heart to life’s magic and wonder.
6. A glass of wine on the porch in the evening lets me commune with Nature and passers-by.
7. Listening to birds soothes my soul.
8. Watching the evening news connects me with the world.
9. Last, but not least -- (please see picture at beginning of post) -- telling a dog how wonderful it is:-)
What rituals bring inspiration or happiness to you? I’d love to hear from you.
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Goodbye and good luck.
Picture credit: ecorandagia