With summer’s shift into fall something happens.
The hectic random pace of summer fades and a new season with its own rhymes and yes, even flavours, takes hold. With it comes the opportunity to dust off your favourite fall/winter rituals or sow some new ones into your life.
But what is ritual versus say that Friday night pizza night? Our first rituals tend to be cultural or religious. Think Thanksgiving and then the Holidays, and all the feasting and celebrations that go along with them. These traditions and customs are ritualized not only through their meaning but also their annual repetition and, yes, how we customize them to our own lives.
However, rituals don’t all have to be inspired by centuries old traditions or religious rites. They can be entirely your own. To live up to their name rituals are best when they deliver some meaning or definition. Their “doing” implies dedication. That special healing massage you’ve gifted yourself annually on your birthday could be considered an annual ritual that celebrates the importance of self-care and nurture. Similarly, because you’ve dedicated yourself to it, that daily/weekly meditation, or online spin class can be regarded as a ritual that serves you physically and emotionally, that blocks out the noise of life, and provides a moment of emotional calm and tranquility.
Wellness rituals are often solo affairs. This can mean, in a busy life making the ritual of finding your “own time” – a solo morning walk, or even the long lingering at home spa night you gift yourself once a week. One friend dedicates a few uninterrupted hours of Sunday morning reading the multi-section NYTimes – a Sunday ritual that is non-negotiable because it’s “her time” . While another friend, never misses her sunrise Saturday morning walk with her dog through a neighbourhood ravine that feels magical for its sense of quiet and calm. “Firsts” can also become rituals: The first pumpkin latte (or muffin! or pie!) you have at the beginning of the fall season is a flavorful ritual and symbolic of the change on its way…. Or maybe it’s the switch you make on the solstice, white wine to red.
Rituals can simply have their own time and place. In pre-Covid times, a designated day in the week or month might have been dedicated to meeting up with friends to play cards/have brunch/go to the movies – hardly “sacred” in the sense that some rituals are, but they can frame your week/month and provide some social time you can count on to enjoy. Now similar get togethers can include, a regular Sunday night dinner which corrals your personal pod of family and friends, and brings them together to share stories of the week while welcoming in the next week with a sense of communal good spirits.
Whether profound, spiritual, or simply something you enjoy doing, rituals, given the dedication and intent they deserve, are good for you. They can ease solitude by bringing you together with people, nourish you, add to your pleasure of life, increase your activity, put you in touch with your spiritual side, combat solitude, and by defining a moment in time give your life some grounding. Personally symbolic, or culturally defined, they can act like anchors in our crazy, upside down, rock-me-round world of ours.