a sequence of actions that may include gestures, words, or objects performed in a specific order and for a desired outcome.
Ritual as a practice is about engagement. It’s about focus, commitment, intent and dedication. It’s about exploration and connection to something beyond what is seen to what can someday be.
“A daily ritual is a way of saying I’m voting for myself; I’m taking care of myself.” ~ Muriel Hemingway
- One study showed that rituals based on a superstition enhanced people’s confidence in their abilities, motivated greater effort and improved subsequent performance.
- Sport psychology research has shown the benefits of pre-performance routines which range from improving attention and execution to increasing emotional stability and confidence.
- A 2013 study showed the effectiveness of ritual in mitigating grief after the loss of a loved one. Results suggest that ritual decreased the feelings of grief by giving those grieving a sense of control.
- Research shows that team or group rituals trigger feelings of connectivity, timelessness, and meaning, which stimulate mental flow states. These, in turn, reduce anxiety and increase energy and focus.
- Research suggests that rituals work because they help people to feel more deeply involved in their experiences, which in turn heightens its perceived value.
How To Start Practicing
People create all types of rituals. You can ritualize just about anything in your life: exercise, prayer, nourishment, solitude, gratitude, sleep and the list goes on and on. Check out some of the following ideas to help get you started.
Create A Vision – When creating a new ritual it helps to begin by defining your vision. What is it you are wanting to accomplish? What is the goal? What is the need the ritual attempts to meet? Be specific. Once you understand write down the specifics of the ritual. When will the ritual be practiced? For how long and in what way? For instance, each morning upon waking I will stretch for 10 minutes while doing my breath work exercises, followed by a short prayer and setting my intention for the day.
Morning Rituals – Many people find a morning ritual helps them jump start their day. Prayer, meditation, a cup of tea, a walk, stretching. It doesn’t need to be time consuming but have it be something you practice consistently from day to day in a similar rhythm. Morning rituals can set the foundation for the rest of your day and leave you feeling grounded and ready for whatever comes next.
Transition Rituals – help us to move from one activity to the next. The research on productivity shows that alternating between activities that require intense mental focus and activities that allow the mind to wander can increase our productivity and creativity. Creating a transition ritual to move between work and play can be rejuvenating and can make our work flow better. For instance, after a 90-minute session on the computer go for a 10-minute walk or spend time outside in nature. Set a timer to remind yourself of when it is time to transition.
Stress Reduction Rituals – Take an inventory of your daily stress points. What are the tasks or situations that leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts on a regular basis. Recognizing these patterns of stress can give you insight into where you may be able to insert rituals to counteract the stress and offer new ways of experiencing these moments. For instance, if housework is a point of contention reframe it as an opportunity to spur creativity. Research shows that these moments of mindless activity can often be moments of great creative inspiration. From the research we also know that rituals give us a sense of power or control which can be helpful in those moments when we feel out of control or overwhelmed.
Self-Care Rituals – remind us to come back to center, nourish ourselves and align with our life’s motivation. Meditation, regular massage, a long walk in nature – what are the rituals you use to reconnect with yourself?