The Helpfulness of Ritual

Moving can be tough, even if you chose to it and mentally prepared yourself for it. Sometimes life is all over the place and there’s not much you can do to stop it. I feel like that at the moment. Like my life is one of those giant multicoloured parachutes that you get to play with at play group. It feels like a bunch of unchangeable external forces, here represented by a bunch of kids, has just come along, picked up the parachute and shaken it as fast as their little arms can go. They might even have got friction burn. Then, last night, I got to sit down, on a nice plushy rug, facing my bedroom window and meditate. Doesn’t sound like much of a big deal, but I felt like amidst all the super chaos, I had driven a stake into the ground and pinned a part of that rampant parachute down. I liked where I was; it felt familiar and I immediately felt a little less panicked and a little more secure. I used to meditate facing the window in my room back in Oxford and getting to bring that pattern of behaviour with me felt good. Don’t get me wrong. I love being home with my family after so long, but I had expected to be living in Oxford for a long time. This is the adjustment period, people, bear with me!

I was taught in my anthropology classes that ritual is often born out of want for security and order. I thought people were putting too much emphasis on the importance of rituals. I was deeply cynical when things like sweeping the floor were labelled up as “cleansing rituals”. To me, ritual was so strongly associated with the religious that it didn’t make sense. Now, I think I see it better. Rituals are habits that keep us in order in some way and I see now how more mundane rituals make a big difference to how grounded we feel. For some people, keeping the place clean makes them feel better. For me it helps to make tea.

I’m going to work on identifying the little things that make me feel better over the next few weeks. I think it will help when I hit the road! Comment and contribute – what’s your top calming ritual?

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