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The Power of Ritual

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Some people love rituals and ceremony. Others have no appreciation for the power of ritual whatsoever. Whatever your position, it’s a fact that rituals can offer a sense of stability in our chaotic world. They create, for many, a way to trust in the mysterious process of life’s twists and turns.

History

But if you think rituals are something new, put in place to deal with our present day stresses, you’re wrong. Scientists discovered artifacts in 2006, indicating that the first known human rituals date back 70,000 years. For perspective, these artifacts included a 5-foot long stone snake found in the remote hills of the Kalahari Desert of Botswana.

Those first rituals are likely outside of our reality or ability to understand today. However, most of us have experienced during our lives at least one ritual that was meaningful for us. It might have been your college graduation. Maybe your wedding. Or perhaps something much more mundane like having breakfast at your favorite coffee shop every Saturday. Regardless of what ritual or rituals have meaning for you, they do so because you are fully engaged, either spiritually, emotionally, physically, or psychologically, or in some combination.

Beyond Intellect

Rituals go beyond the intellectual and involve your creativity or intuition. They are actually powerful tools, symbolic enactments, which help you go beyond simple change to transformation. Often, they connect us to something larger than ourselves – like nature.

The changing of the seasons marks a change in weather, holidays, and for many a whole host of family traditions. As we start our own families, we often bring those exact traditions, or updated versions of them, with us, creating new rituals.

For example, the first year or two that you rent a cabin in the woods with your extended family to celebrate Thanksgiving, that’s a habit or routine. When you’ve been doing it for a generation, you would never consider doing something else, and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if you didn’t do it – then it’s a ritual.

Sense of Place

Often rituals give us a sense of place in our family, community, and world. They are a means to connect ourselves with the past and past generations. They strengthen our sense of self.

Religious ceremonies or rituals often provide that for people. But so can celebrating a Quinceanera or girl’s coming of age on her 15th birthday for families of Mexican or Latin American heritage.

Sacred Space

Even the simplest of rituals can have profound meaning and impact. Families that come together regardless of what is going on in the world or their lives, turn off their phones, and share an evening meal together on certain nights of the week often appreciate the stability that this ritual offers.

Additionally, simple rituals such as this create a sacred space. This space is made even more sacred by the fact that everyone recognizes and appreciates it’s importance. But it is important to note that this sacred space can also be created by the individual who engages in self-care routines or rituals, for example.

Rituals allow us to not only engage our minds, but our souls as well. They often offer a sense of renewal, support our feelings of purpose, and offer a respite from the day to day of life.

Transitions

All of our senses may be engaged in rituals, often having their own sounds, smells, feel, sensations, and tastes! There is often a component of rest or rejuvenation.  Many prepare you for what comes next. How many of us have New Year’s rituals that prepare us to put our best selves forward on January 1?

There are many steps involved in rites of passage such as marriage or childbirth. They are all geared towards preparation and readiness to make the transition to what is to come.

According to Bradd Shore, a psychological anthropologist and author of the book The Hidden Powers of Ritual, ritual is a powerful tool for helping us to shape and reshape our lives.

Your New Ritual

If you are interested in living at 100% for 100 years or more, it might be time to create a new ritual for yourself and those you love. Schedule an appointment with a 100 Year Lifestyle provider near you today. Make that a sacred time and space where you care for your health and wellbeing – regardless of what is going on in the world – today and moving forward. It’s a ritual we promise you will appreciate!

 

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