Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Rituals Are Important To Us

We all have our daily rituals, although we may not refer to them that way, and they help us to orient ourselves in the world and prepare for the day ahead. Whether you begin by brewing a cup of coffee or tea, reading, doing yoga or tai chi, making notes in your journal or walking the dog, these are rituals.

When we change clothes as soon as we get home, we are saying to oursleves as much as to the rest of the world that we are now changing our role, our consciousness, our frame of mind, as we make the transition from work to play, relax, exercise, or socialize.

Consider then, the lack of these things when big changes occur in our lives. For example, we have rituals for getting married, but almost none for getting divorced or separated. We may throw a big party when we get a new job, but how do we acknowledge the change when we leave one, whether the change was voluntary or not?

No wonder the period of adjustment is disorienting and extended for many people. Of course, such major life changes take a long time to digest and many changes in a person's lifestyle will flow from these developments. How much might it help put things to rest and put them in perspective if a person were to do something special to recognize and embrace the change? How much would a person be encouraged to complete their transition and move on if they actually did a ritual to signify their change of status?

There is, of course, no correct or uniform time frame for making such a transition, but picture how it feels to do something symbolic and saying to yourself and the world that you are taking the next step into your new life. You begin to prepare for the new possibilities life has to offer and seeing the world as the new person. And this process is aided by doing something to mark the occasion.

Rituals are not just for birth and death, but for all the important passages in our lives. If you feel a need to move yourself forward, perhaps you need to create a ritual for this time in your life.

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