What does it actually MEAN to create and live our everyday lives embracing and creating rituals? Being intentional and creating rituals helps provide that thing that so many of us are lacking….connection! Connection to ourselves, to others, to our surroundings and our Earth. New research is being done around our health and what causes illness. Studies are showing that what causes disharmony inside may have as much to do to with a lack of connection and loneliness as the food we eat and whether or not we exercise. Connection is something that we all think we have at the end of our fingertips with our ability to use ever fast pace “connecting” technology, yet people increasingly report feeling more and more disconnected and lonely. There is more anxiety, more fear, and more loneliness. Engaging in rituals is a way to slow down, to be mindful about what we want to create, how we want to connect and then actually putting that into ACTION!
Rituals by definition are repetitive, behaviors that involve gestures, words, and objects and are most often performed in a sequence. Rituals are one of the major practices that we share as a human race throughout time and history. Rituals have been connecting people to each other, our natural world and ourselves for centuries; they bind us together. Rituals may be done individually as a family or as a larger community. The hymns sung in Christianity, the meditative breath work in Buddhism, the chanting in Islam all illicit the same response in our brain. We are all activating parts of our brain that intimacy, connection and spiritual growth spring from.
There is a reason why we are all naturally drawn to rituals around major changes in our lives. Science has shown that engaging in rituals big and small help create a sense of peace and calmness in situations, especially those that are typically anxiety producing. People who engage in rituals prior to going for a job interview report more success getting the job as their anxiety levels decreased. On a biochemical level researchers and neurobiologists have found that rituals actually connect our brain to our memories, specifically our long-term memories. Creating rituals help us order and connect with our experiences, especially those experiences that are life changing like birth and death. Studies have shown that those people who process grief through a ritualistic behavior report less depression and greater peace than those that don’t. Rituals help us create meaning and order in our lives. On a personal level we use rituals all the time without much thought. Morning and evening routines help us bookend our days. Children love their bedtime rituals to help them feel safe and secure at the end of their day.
We are hard wired to engage in rituals. So why have we as a society gotten away from or reframed the rituals to have little to do with connection and meaning and more to do with accumulation and stuff? How can we, YOU return to connection in your own personal life in the form of an intentional ritual? What can you create for your family to connect through RITUAL?