Ritual is the passage way of the soul into the infinite
- Algernon Blackwood
What are Connection Rituals?
(n) A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed in a sequestered place, and according to a prescribed order.
The goal of a connection ritual is to develop deeper connections with others, our world, and ourselves. The way rituals can facilitate that is by creating a setting that encourages vulnerability and openness. And priming our bodies and minds to build stronger connections.
Catlin O’Connel Ph.D writes in her book Wild Rituals: “In their simplest forms, they are a tool to communicate and express intentions. They also create a mutual language to facilitate connection.” She goes on to say. “During the performance of a group ritual, personal fears and doubts are shared as a group… (Rituals) connect us, strengthen bonds, create order, and ground us within a community. They are the glue that binds communities together…”
Performing specific actions in an intentional way is capable of inducing a change in perception, or state of consciousness. They have been scientifically proven to produce states of increased dopamine and/or serotonin. This allows individuals to enter a state in which they are more open to receiving and feeling gratitude, love, and connectedness. Simultaneously, rituals are capable of opening us up to our fear, grief, sadness, and anger. Accessing repressed emotions is the first step in dealing with them. Repressed and unexpressed emotions may lead to anxiety, neurosis, and mental illness. Once we feel them we can let them go. We can liberate ourselves from their hold.
"Rituals are practices capable of providing identity to a community and creating bonds among its members... Such rituals function as a way of uniting groups through resistance, an unconscious message that ensures “if we’re united, we can survive any pain, any challenge.”
Why incorporate Rituals in your life?
Rituals can be used to empower positive life changes. Much of the empowerment comes from the connection between members. Group rituals show us that our actions and decisions have real effects on more than just ourselves. Through striving to better our own lives, we actively help to better the lives of others.
Rituals provide a consistent structure that we can return to and continually build upon. Gaining actionable insight on a weekly basis. Growing and evolving as humans alongside the rituals.
Rituals facilitate us in dealing with our fears and anxieties in a way that empowers us, rather than hinders us. In our everyday life, fears and anxieties are naturally repressed because they interfere with our present moment objectives. But as we ignore them and push them out of conscious awareness, they continue to grow and exert their effects on us subconsciously. In a ritual setting we can allow, even encourage, these fears and anxieties into conscious awareness, so we can acknowledge them, accept them, and let them go. Shedding their control in the process.
Ritual settings encourage vulnerability, openness, and acceptance. As we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we develop trust. As we develop trust we deepen our connection with ourselves and others. When we are intimately connected with others we are better adapted to confront our problems as individuals.
1. They can’t be done alone.
Not all rituals are group acts. But connections rituals are. Ernest Becker stated that the primary function of rituals was to “impart life” or in other words imbue life with meaning. He states that this cannot be done alone. We must collectively transmute life's energy into something new.
2. They are structured.
Caitlin O'Connel says “Performing all the steps within a ritual in a specific sequence often requires complete focus to be achieved successfully. The science behind these acts show how engaging in ritual can relieve stress, decrease anxiety, make us more present, and even improve cognition.”
Structure is of paramount importance in a ritual. A quote from C.S. Lewis in A Preface to Paradise Lost, sums up why it is so important. “When our participation in a rite becomes perfect, we think no more of ritual, but are engrossed by that about which the rite is performed; but afterward we recognize that ritual was the sole method by which this concentration could be achieved.”
Ritual is capable of producing intense connection to the present moment, only when the structure is strictly adhered too. Once you reach the perfection that C.S. Lewis describes, it's akin to reaching a state of flow. No longer are you thinking, you are just performing in the present moment.
3. They are consistent and scheduled.
Ancient rituals were never scheduled on a whim. They were determined by external factors. Such as the position of the stars, or the phase of the moon, or perhaps the behavior of the local weather, or the river. Ancient rituals may be performed once a month on every full moon. Or once a year after the river floods. Or in the case of rites of passage the rituals were performed at specific points in human development. Often the puberty rites were initiated between the age of 13 or 16 for men (depending on the tribe's culture). For women it was often initiated at the time of one’s first menstrual cycle. They were not performed based on the internal feelings of the individuals, because an individual “felt” like they needed too.
As well as structured, they are consistent. Rituals were performed at specific times regardless of how individuals felt about it. Rituals would not be postponed or stopped simply because one individual didn’t “feel up for it” on a certain day. The scheduling of rituals is not influenced by the transient internal feelings of the ritual members.
If you would like to learn more about rituals or would like help developing a ritual practice in your life please reach out to us through our contact us page.
Communities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when they are created by everybody. - Jane Jacobs