Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Role of Ritual

by Lisa Grant-Feeley, MS, LPC

 

As time appears to be paused and everyday feels like Blursday, it is becoming more and more difficult for us to give structure and meaning to our days, weeks, and months. As we spend increasingly more time with our families and less time out in the world, the routines and rituals of coming and going that signaled the start and finish of activities throughout the day have faded. The act of leaving and rejoining family or our pets or commuting to and from our work provided structure and created a rhythm to our day. Before the pandemic, getting up in the morning meant the start of a specific day with specific things to do and included interacting with others in a real “in person, in the same room, within reach” sort of way that we didn’t even know we could miss. 

 

All of these things naturally created rituals throughout our lives. We might not have thoughts of them as rituals, necessarily, but they were. Stopping for coffee and chatting with our favorite barista (or others who are waiting for their coffee), is a ritual that signals the start of the day and provides connection. Going into your workplace and working beside co-workers is a ritual that provides community and purpose. Coming home from work, greeting your family, and changing into comfortable clothes is a ritual that signals the end of the work day and provides safety and belonging. Making a big breakfast and sitting with family on the weekend is a ritual that signals it’s time to slow down, rest and enjoy being together. As Erika Keswin explains in her book, Rituals Road Maps, rituals ground us and provide a psychological sense of safety through connection, purpose and belonging.

 

By getting in touch with your most essential values, you can create rituals that can provide a higher level of meaning in various aspects of your day. For example, if you value nature, you can create a ritual of bundling up at the start or end of the workday, stepping outside for five minutes to look at the sky, and taking a few deep breaths as you listen for birds singing. If you value nourishing time alone, you can create a 20-minute bathing ritual at the end of the day - lighting a candle, playing some spa music on your phone, and using a body wash that appeals to your sense of smell and touch. If work feels like it’s overwhelming, you can set an alarm at the top of every hour and do a 2-minute rest and rejuvenate ritual where you walk away from the computer and stretch, breathe, and drink some water infused with mint, lemon, or basil. 

 

The trick with rituals is to be fully absorbed in them, totally focused on the purpose and value. Instead of allowing your mind to stay on a stressful assignment while you attempt to rest and rejuvenate, ritual invites you to be fully aware, to commit to this time and really feel your breath, connect with your body as you stretch, and to taste the life-nourishing water you are providing your body. It is by being totally present in the moment that your ritual has the power to release stress and increase the feel-good hormones in your body and mind.

 

Two of my favorite daily rituals involve how I begin and end my day. I set an intention for the day either by taking a few deep breaths first thing in the morning when I wake up or as I sit quietly with my morning coffee. This intention is always value-based and preferably in touch with what I feel will be life-enhancing. The other is to end the day with gratitude for some thing or things that happened during the day for which I am grateful. Maybe it’s a conversation with a family member or friend, the walk I took, or the dinner I cooked and shared with my husband. 

 

I’ve included a link to some core values for work and life. Feel free to take a look, consider what you value and explore how you can create rituals for your days, weeks or months to add meaning and value-based structure to your life. Hopefully this will make the coming months, as we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic, a bit easier to manage.

 

Lisa Grant-Feeley, MS, LPC works with children, teens and families

As time appears to be paused and everyday feels like Blursday, it is becoming more and more difficult for us to give structure and meaning to our days, weeks, and months. As we spend increasingly more time with our families and less time out in the world, the routines and rituals of coming and going that signaled the start and finish of activities throughout the day have faded. The act of leaving and rejoining family or our pets or commuting to and from our work provided structure and created a rhythm to our day. Before the pandemic, getting up in the morning meant the start of a specific day with specific things to do and included interacting with others in a real “in person, in the same room, within reach” sort of way that we didn’t even know we could miss. 

 

All of these things naturally created rituals throughout our lives. We might not have thoughts of them as rituals, necessarily, but they were. Stopping for coffee and chatting with our favorite barista (or others who are waiting for their coffee), is a ritual that signals the start of the day and provides connection. Going into your workplace and working beside co-workers is a ritual that provides community and purpose. Coming home from work, greeting your family, and changing into comfortable clothes is a ritual that signals the end of the work day and provides safety and belonging. Making a big breakfast and sitting with family on the weekend is a ritual that signals it’s time to slow down, rest and enjoy being together. As Erika Keswin explains in her book, Rituals Road Maps, rituals ground us and provide a psychological sense of safety through connection, purpose and belonging.

 

By getting in touch with your most essential values, you can create rituals that can provide a higher level of meaning in various aspects of your day. For example, if you value nature, you can create a ritual of bundling up at the start or end of the workday, stepping outside for five minutes to look at the sky, and taking a few deep breaths as you listen for birds singing. If you value nourishing time alone, you can create a 20-minute bathing ritual at the end of the day - lighting a candle, playing some spa music on your phone, and using a body wash that appeals to your sense of smell and touch. If work feels like it’s overwhelming, you can set an alarm at the top of every hour and do a 2-minute rest and rejuvenate ritual where you walk away from the computer and stretch, breathe, and drink some water infused with mint, lemon, or basil. 

 

The trick with rituals is to be fully absorbed in them, totally focused on the purpose and value. Instead of allowing your mind to stay on a stressful assignment while you attempt to rest and rejuvenate, ritual invites you to be fully aware, to commit to this time and really feel your breath, connect with your body as you stretch, and to taste the life-nourishing water you are providing your body. It is by being totally present in the moment that your ritual has the power to release stress and increase the feel-good hormones in your body and mind.

 

Two of my favorite daily rituals involve how I begin and end my day. I set an intention for the day either by taking a few deep breaths first thing in the morning when I wake up or as I sit quietly with my morning coffee. This intention is always value-based and preferably in touch with what I feel will be life-enhancing. The other is to end the day with gratitude for some thing or things that happened during the day for which I am grateful. Maybe it’s a conversation with a family member or friend, the walk I took, or the dinner I cooked and shared with my husband. 

 

I’ve included a link to some core values for work and life. Feel free to take a look, consider what you value and explore how you can create rituals for your days, weeks or months to add meaning and value-based structure to your life. Hopefully this will make the coming months, as we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic, a bit easier to manage.

 

Lisa Grant-Feeley, MS, LPC works with individuals and with children and teens in the context of their families. She specializes in working with individuals with ADHD and related behaviors, including anxiety and depression.  She is dedicated to helping families work to create peace in their homes by working with all members of the family.  To connect with Lisa, please call 267-625-2565 or visit her website lisagrantfeeleytherapy.com.

 

.  She specializes in working with individuals with ADHD and related behaviors, including anxiety and depression.  She is dedicated to helping families work to create peace in their homes by working with all members of the family.  To connect with Lisa, please call 267-625-2565 or visit her website lisagrantfeeleytherapy.com.

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Living with peace during COVID - by Dean Solon

For what are you most grateful as you look back over the year and why? I am most grateful to have awakened each morning to be breathing, to be alive, and to hope and pray that all those who are near and dear to me are breathing, alive, today

 

What did you take for granted this year? Much of the time, I was taking nothing for granted during this past year.

 

What did this reveal to you about yourself and your presence in the world? It is indeed a challenge to be peaceful and compassionate in the midst of chaos and commotion. 

 

Was there an unexpected joy that you experienced during this time?  The great opportunity of being at the shore sometimes, and with the great joy of the ocean's vast presence. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Spiritual fortitude in 2020 - by Tracey Smith

What is the most important thing that the year of Covid 19 has taught you?It has been a year of many lessons learned and still learning. The most important thing is to continue to strive for spiritual wellness and spiritual fortitude. I learned some new spiritual practices that helped sustain me day to day and moment by moment. Some days were extremely hard working through the traumas of events. Afraid if I started crying, I wouldn't stop. Fearful that I may have to choose between my health and my job. Compounded by the social unrest and not feeling safe as a black woman. While other days were joyful and grateful that my hour commute included seeing woods, streams, birds, flowers and horses. Joyful that I have an awesome life with no regrets. To summarize what Covid-19 has taught me, please see the poem below written by b.oakman:

 

I lied and said that I was busy.

I was busy;

but not in a way most people understand.

 

I was busy taking deeper breaths.

I was busy silencing irrational thoughts

I was busy calming a racing heart.

I was busy telling myself I am ok.

 

Sometimes, this is my busy- and I will not apologize for it.

Gratitude for life itself - by Jen Perry

For what are you most grateful as you look back over the year and why? My life ~ literally. I lost a shocking number of relatives at the beginning of March at the start of this pandemic. It was shocking and scary and felt terrible to not be together in our grief. I've found a renewed sense of purpose and vitality in planning all the things I want to do once it is safe to do so ~ in many ways it shook me out of a lot of the overwhelm and bogged-down-ness of middle adulthood.

 

What did you take for granted this year?I think I took time for granted ~ my relationship with time was really strange this year. When the pandemic started I really thought it would be over in a matter of weeks ~ which turned into months as we all know .... some days stretched on forever and then suddenly I can't believe so many months have gone by and I haven't seen people I love. I think I'm more aware of my middle-agedness and that I don't have unlimited time to do all the things I want to do.

 

What did this reveal to you about yourself and your presence in the world?Absolutely all of us matter. We never realize how much we mean to each other. Life is a lot of fun and an adventure ~ I can't wait to get back out in the world. 

 

What new hobby or old pastime did you take up or revive during this time? I started art journaling.

 

Was there an unexpected joy that you experienced during this time?I found joy in the moments with my kids that required extra thought ~ to make their birthdays special in an unusual way, playing more board games than social outings, digging in and really being more present to each other. 

 

What is the most important thing that the year of Covid 19 has taught you?I really, really, really miss hugs. Life is too short to put off joy.

 

Blessings during these uncertain times - by Kathy Krol

For what are you most grateful as you look back over the year and why? That I persevered and came through all the challenges still feeling blessed in my life and even more grateful for what I have present in my life.


What did you take for granted this year? Challenges to preserving "Our Democracy" and following the constitution. I never expected in a civilized country like ours to see the turmoil and violence this past year. I am grateful for those who exercised their freedom of speech in peaceful demonstrations and protests.

 

What did this reveal to you about yourself and your presence in the world? I like the comfort of familiarity of my daily life and when the world like my country seems in order. I am able to shift and adapt even though it is not easy at times. We are all needed and together contribute to the tapestry of this world.

 

What new hobby or old pastime did you take up or revive during the months of lockdown? I have always enjoyed walking and nature watching, just had more time to slow down and enjoy it.

 

Was there an unexpected joy that you experienced during this time? More time at home to enjoy moments with nature, watching the birds and small animals. Feeling love and care of family and friends through a difficult health crisis.

 

What is the most important thing that the year of Covid 19 has taught you? The value of health and loved ones. To take each day as it comes, go with the flow when plans change, let go what we can't control.

 

Reflections on 2020 - from Rachel Kobin

For what are you most grateful as you look back over the year and why? I'm grateful everyone in my immediate family, including my elderly mom and boyfriend, and my friends are still alive.

What did you take for granted this year? Nothing.

What did this reveal to you about yourself and your presence in the world? Having the ability to appreciate simple pleasures like a good cup of tea or a phone conversation with a friend who makes you laugh is an invaluable survival skill. 

What new hobby or old pastime did you take up or revive during the months of lockdown? I started painting with acrylics just for fun. With my paramour's help, I did several nesting projects, including using a sewing machine for the first time to make curtains, something I've meant to do since I bought my house in 2005. 

Was there an unexpected joy that you experienced during this time? Teaching via Zoom has added my commute time back to my life. I've enjoyed having that time to simply be.

What is the most important thing that the year of Covid 19 has taught you? Life is fragile; take nothing for granted.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Gratitude and Clarity during COVID - by Elizabeth Venart

For what are you most grateful as you look back over the year and why? I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for by ability to continue doing meaningful work that I love. I am grateful for the beauty of the natural world that has sustained me through walks and time outside, looking at the sky and trees and flowers and birds. I am grateful for the wonderful community of practitioners at The Resiliency Center. Knowing we were in this together – as we transitioned to offering our services online and as we navigated this tumultuous year – has been a tremendous support.  

 

What did you take for granted this year?  I tried not to take anything for granted this year. I am filled with gratitude for my ability to buy food and have a safe place to live. I am grateful for my health and the health of everyone I love. I am grateful for every breath I take with ease. I watched with empathy as so many people struggled with the additional devastation of coronavirus – on top of poverty and multitude injustices faced daily. I awoke to the excruciating pain of racial injustice in a deeper and more profound way this year, and I became more committed to my role as an effective ally.  

 

What did this reveal to you about yourself and your presence in the world? I see more clearly the privileges I have. I am more courageous to have deep conversations and to do the hard work necessary to educate myself in areas where my knowledge is lacking.  

 

What new hobby or old pastime did you take up or revive during the months of lockdown? 

I love painting. I used to attend in-person painting workshops periodically, but I hadn’t in many years due to the time and expense involved in traveling. With COVID, the programs moved online. I have participated in three weekend programs so far and have found them deeply meaningful and restorative, a time to go inward and experience a painting retreat from the comfort of my home. These workshops also give me an opportunity to connect with people all over the continent, and I’ve found the community really supportive.  

 

I also attended live music events online. These included the playful and inspired variety show format of the Gluey Zoomy Show that two friends in New York City host, to daily morning kirtans praying for peace led by Devadas in Brooklyn, and enjoying livestream piano concerts from my talented musician friend Joe Ashlar in New Orleans. 

 

My passion for poetry was only strengthened during this time. I continue to lead the Rumi and Friends Spiritual Poetry Evening monthly – now online – and was thrilled that people from our area and as far away as California joined us. I also attended several online programs with Irish Poet David Whyte.  

 

Was there an unexpected joy that you experienced during this time? I really enjoy the changing of the seasons. Without traveling to faraway places to savor the spring and summer flowers, rivers and lakes, and vibrant autumn foliage, I delighted in my own backyard, thoroughly savoring the beauty discovered on daily walks in my neighborhood and nearby parks. Spending time by Zoom playing with the youngest members of my extended family was a true joy. We colored together, told stories, laughed, and played imaginary games. While I missed the time in person, we live at a distance, so virtual “playdates” allowed us to connect much more regularly. I treasured that time together.  

 

What is the most important thing that the year of Covid 19 has taught you? Everything can change in an instant, and you can find a way to adapt. The simple pleasures aren’t actually simple – They are the very stuff of life. Never underestimate the power of a hug or how truly beautiful it is to be in the physical presence of another human being. Sitting around an outside fire with friends is magical. Routines can foster resiliency – For me, this included daily walks, starting my day with chanting, weekly zoom calls with friends and family, weekly online gatherings with other practitioners at the center, and Friday night movies. Having regular activities to which I could look forward was important – and I didn’t need to leave home to participate.