The Importance of Rituals

I had the opportunity, recently, to hear a sermon from Rob Bell of Mars Hill Bible Church. He addressed the importance of rituals in our lives and how they serve as a reminder for us as to what is most important.

Rituals should be seen as a "sacred holy task" that focuses you on what is most important. In his example, Rob discussed his morning ritual of making lunches and taking his boys to school. This ritual serves as a reminder of his calling to take care of his boys.

What is it that is most important to you?

Do your "rituals" reflect what is most important to you through your actions?

We need to constantly be checking ourselves and the rituals that we participate in, to make sure we are focused on the most worthy pursuits.

[David Korff]
Found at Thinking about things blog (now dead)

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I recently read an article about a paramedic who created a ritual to help him separate from all the things he had seen during the day and create a space for being with his family. Everyday when he got home, he would imagine hanging all the troubles of the work day on the tree next to his back door. As he entered the house he would touch the tree and walk into the house, leaving the work day behind–a simple ritual to help his subconscious mind to know that it was time to focus on his family.

Rituals of Transition

Rituals of transition help us move from one area of our lives to another. The paramedic touching the tree and setting the intention of being fully present for his family is an example of a transition ritual. Another example that most of us are familiar with is bedtime rituals which help children settle down for the night. The more consistent the story time and lights out, the more the child becomes to depend on the ritual and can make the transition from busy day to restful night.

We can make use of this idea of rituals to help us be in the moment and make the transition from one area of focus to another, e.g., work to home, creating space to focus on a project, bedtime, etc. The elements important to creating a ritual is setting an intention, performing the action and making the action a regular occurrence so that it becomes a habit.

Rituals of Relaxation and Focus

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of the book The Power of Full Engagement, maintain that we do not need to manage our time, we need to manage our energy, and that we have to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.

Loehr and Schwartz worked for years with top athletes, and noticed that they were able to reset their bodies and minds in little time, with highly practiced, repeated - scheduled - actions (i.e., rituals.) Watch a basketball player at the free throw line or a tennis player before they serve. Many have a little routine that they do each time before they take a shot or serve. It may be the number of times they bounce the ball or how they touch their body.

You can use this idea to create small rituals of relaxation and focus and repeat them regularly throughout your day. You can tie these rituals to specific events in your day.

[Carol Woodliff]
The Importance of Rituals, found at WMV Group