March, the Month of Ritual
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
We need ritual.
"Maybe Thursday happy hour with coworkers, a steady date night, a favorite exercise class, or a time set aside to volunteer somewhere. Whether it's a trip to the farmer's market, the nail salon, or the psychiatrist's office, almost everyone I know has something particular they do once a week. Before VCRs, DVRs, and streaming services, a favorite television show, broadcast as its appointed time, was a ritual. Sporting events are still watched mostly as they unfold live, millions of people sharing thrills and agonies in their living rooms. These may not leave us with a sense of the divine, but they create a pattern for our lives, a set moment to dip back into our communities and ourselves." Sasha Sagan, For Small Creatures Such as We
I love this passage. It reminds me of all the opportunities we have to connect in secular ways and reinforces the feeling that at some level, we can all connect to one another. So what happens with this all goes away? What happens when for the health of our community and our loved ones we must practice social distancing or quarantine? What happens when we don't have that weekly activity to ground us in a sense of normalcy?
We are social creatures and without ritual we can feel disconnected from the world and unsure of our place in it. We can lose sight of that connection, of our humanity. It can become easier to make assumptions and judgments about the faceless masses when we don't have to face them. Just look at how much more outspoken people are behind the safety of their keyboards. And the more we separate ourselves, the greater potential to feel separate and think only of our individual selves and needs.
But with ritual, we can feel grounded, connected, and more in control of how we respond to situations. (Because we all know we can't control the situation itself, no matter how hard we try). So perhaps we can take a moment to take stock of what is ritual for ourselves. Ritual can be as simple as your morning cup of coffee, taking time to meditate, play music, or a warm bath at night. Our rituals are often things that nourish us and in times of stress, we need to keep our mind and body strong by continuing that nourishment.
So, when our ritual is something that includes socializing, it may need to shift, to look different. This can be an opportunity to create new rituals. I know for myself, my meditation practice has increased. This is nourishing, but is also an activity I do by myself and can therefore be missing that social connection. So, I joined an online meditation group. We don't meditate together or even at the same time, but we are moving through and sharing an experience together. That in itself can reinforce our social connection. I've also found that my digital interaction has increased. In our face to face world, this sometimes feels disconnected. But when we are limited in our face to face interactions, it can reinforce our social connection. We have the great gift of technology and we can use it to relate to each other, share compassion for each other, offer assistance, and create ritual.
Take this opportunity to create a new ritual, be creative about how an existing ritual can transform, share your rituals with others. Be adaptive. This may take a little bravery, but trust that the payoff will be worth it. We must stay connected.
"Rituals are the formulas by which harmony is restored."
~ Terry Tempest Williams ~