By Shelli Stanger Nelson, Founder and President
Participation in ritual surrounds human life. Rituals and acts of ceremony provide us with a sense of connection. They establish identity to our heritage and beliefs.Participating in ceremony provides an imprinting to mark an occasion we want to acknowledge or hold in pristine fondness. Rituals define us as belonging to a particular group and also demonstrate unique differences between one group and another.
There are many types of rituals and ceremonies in which we participate. Some are based on cultures. Others are based on our particular faith tradition and still others are indicative of our particular family of origin. The misunderstanding that ritual is reserved only for a time that is exceptional is one of the mistakes of humans. For example, we can make coffee in the morning and create it as a ritual. Or we can turn making dinner at night into a ritual instead of a burden or task. Taking a walk can be done with the sense of ritual, should you choose, rather than absently allowing free-flowing ideas to drain through your mind.
In many ways we have become desensitized to the value ritual has in our lives. Our ancestors considered ritual and ceremony very differently than we often do. To them, the sacredness of the ritual remained intact. Ceremonies were not a show or performance as today’s society has distorted them to be. They embraced the experience as a sacred means of expressing intention. Tribes, nations and sub-sets of people viewed participation in ceremonies as the binding agreement of many critical events rather than an event that was observed or performed and then its potency allowed to dissolve over time. The public ritual itself was the indelible binding agreement rather than today’s system of signatures, legal papers and the court. Perhaps this has to do with humankind’s all-too-often tendency of today’s world to enter into agreements frivolously. Or maybe it is the unfortunate devolvement of our ethical conscious as our physical evolution grew. As we move into the next step of human awakening, hope springs eternal that this ethical consciousness and thoughtful intention is re-ignited so that we may return to the gold standard that a handshake is once again, an individual’s honorable word.
The departure from our ancestral roots surrounding ritual has encouraged us to be a species of ephemeral terms and has diluted our rituals into meaningless acts. The new-age seekers have quite possibly contributed to this shifting foundation. People tend to lack commitment. They easily say “yes” only to later say, “I changed my mind”. In an attempt to promote individuation, we have somehow managed to adopt the idea that being concerned only with the self trumps the obligations we make to others. We have lost the meaning behind simple acts that we do. Giving someone a hug when we see them is all too often done with such carelessness that we flee from the embrace before we understand its unspoken understanding.
Consider re-establishing rituals and ceremony into your daily life. Enter into the ritual with thoughtful purpose. Our society longs for, requires, a sense of trust, safety and security. Reacquainting ourselves with the idea of daily ritual will help to solidify these energies throughout the hologram and provide a more predictable future and commemorate the events in our lives in a meaningful way.
Exercise: Develop a simple ritual for yourself that you can easily commit to doing each day. Let this ritual remind you of your honorable handshake to the universe.
“I give you my word.”
And so it is.