Thursday, June 30, 2005

Personal or Daily Rituals

To begin, I would also like to add to the previous “ritual” definitions the aspect of personal or daily rituals. Not just having to do with religion, we can have rituals in activities that we do on a daily basis. Things like making breakfast, what we do when we get home, such as go sit in front of the TV/computer or take off our shoes and socks soon after we have stepped into our house, checking to make sure the door is locked or the oven is turned off before we leave our homes. Rituals are a part of everyday life.

I think of rituals as being multi-level. Each level builds on the last through layering meaning on top of meaning. I think that personal or daily rituals make up the basic “level” of ritual. These are those that happen on a frequent basis, whether conscious or unconscious, subtle or in-your-face. There are those that happen infrequently, but tend to be more ceremonious and special. These two statements can apply to all levels of ritual as well. But, to be considered a ritual, they have to have more meaning behind them than just being something that you do.

Here are some examples of what I am talking about:

*We all have our favorite spot around the dinner table. If someone sits in “your spot,” you will most likely tell them so. I see this as a daily ritual. The placement of setting at the table usually shows something about your family structure. It has meaning to your family.

*Society dictates how we dress for certain situations. If you are school, you dress a certain way. If you are shopping you dress a certain way. Sports also have a “dress code” so to speak. Also, special occasions have a specific dress code. Think about weddings. Everyone even down to the catering staff has a specific way of dress that is considered acceptable.

*Growing up, most of us probably had a set time for “snack time” whether be right after school or at another time. I remember coming home, unlocking the door, throwing off my shoes and socks, running to the refrigerator and grabbing something to eat. When my grandmother would watch me and my cousins in the summer, she would usually have a special time for a snack and it was a time for all of us to sit and talk.

*One of my favorite personal rituals is that I read before I put out the lights at night. Even if it is just to pick up a book to read a few pages, I still do it almost every night. It prepares my mind to say, “Bed Time!”

I’m sure many of you can think of your own as well. Rituals become rituals often due to how they make us feel and because of their individual meaning to each of us. That is why we continue doing these acts.

Our daily rituals and habits become important to us and even become a part of who we are. But not all of our daily rituals or habits are positive. Things like worrying about everything, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and other bad habits can sometimes take over our lives. These are things that we have to learn to become aware of and take care of by getting help when it is needed.

Also, I have to add another aspect of ritual to my list. As I have worked with the disabled community, mostly those with autism, I have to mention the importance of ritual in their lives. For those with disabilities, rituals are a big part of their day. It helps them to function within daily life with regards of what they need to do (i.e. – get up, take a shower, eat breakfast, etc). Many of this community have their order of how they like to do things, and when someone tries to come in and do things differently that new person get a quick lesson of how things are done.

With those who are autism, repetition is important to them. They know what is going to happen and feel more comfortable with the situation if it is something familiar. But in this case, ritual can also become debilitating. It can take over their lives and they may refuse to do anything new once they are so involved with their routine. That is why it is now recommended for those with disabilities to be introduced to new things or ways to do things every once and while.

Within the realm of personal rituals, rites of passage are also an important part of how our society functions. Some common rites of passage celebrated in our society today include birth, graduation, marriage, and death. Some rites of passage that I think are quite often over looked are bigger events like puberty and smaller events such as learning to tie your shoes and learning to ride a bike. Our minds need to be able to celebrate the small events as well as the big events in our lives to feel connected.

In this level of ritual, each event has a more personal meaning rather than a broader meaning within society. It has special meaning to just you or maybe even a few close friends and family. On a personal and daily level, ritual is about being connected to one’s feelings about the world and yourself.

1 comment:

HobbitToes said...

Hello. My name is Raven.
I like your site. I was hoping you or another reader might have Riuals they would like to share. Daily meditations or prayers.The more ecclectic the better. I often refer to myself/belief structue as ecclectic witch. Anything goes. Buddist, Jewish, Aboriginel, Cathlic, Islamic, Hindu, and especialy the invented ones, with no history or dogma. I like to say of personal rituals, "Do it once, its and experiment. Do it everytime, its a Ritual."