Ritual. Where has it gone?
Not the scary, Wicker Man kind; also nothing involving chickens or hooded garments and a hard-on. Rather, the gentle kind that used to give shape and meaning to activities in the day.
Tradition is retained success, and rituals at home facilitated domestic relations. In an age where ritual has mostly gone out of the window, is it any wonder that home life can often feel mundane and stripped of magic?
It’s my belief that deployed correctly, ritual has the power to elevate life above the ordinary, renovate relationships and create lasting memories. Behaviour is a very strong psychological force, and learning how to own it gives you an extra tool for perking yourself – and others – right up.
So, if you’re looking to revamp your domestic relationships or just add a subtle framework to your down time that makes you feel a little special, here are my top five rituals, complete with benefits.
- Breakfast on a tray in bed on a weekend
Correct deployment: wooden tray, linen tray cover, silver (plated) tea/coffee pot, boiled egg, bread soldiers, bowl of muesli, copy of the Guardian.
Incorrect deployment: no tray, copy of the Daily Mail.
Benefits: slows you from the pace of the working week. It celebrates the start of two days of ‘living time’ – that’s time on your own clock, not that of your employer. Reading the paper with breakfast equips you for informed conversation in your social activities.
- Formal dinner
Correct deployment: black tie or white tie; formal table settings.
Incorrect deployment: wearing a onesie.
Benefits: making dinner the highlight of your day gives you something to look forward to all day. If you live alone, you get to feel groovy at what singles find can be a very emotionally vulnerable time of day. If you live with your partner, you get to see them looking their best – encouraging ‘dating behaviour’, which can help rekindle romance. All without hefty restaurant bills or transport costs.
- Meal time conversation
Correct deployment: talk about what interests you, what inspires you, what’s funny and uplifting and great in the world we live in. Aim to excite, challenge and entertain your dining companions.
Incorrect deployment: lecturing, moaning or complaining; comments with any negative emotional impact.
Benefits: curtailing conversational parameters at the meal table actually frees you up to be more interesting – both to yourself and to others. There’s a big old world out there; talk about it. Engaging with themes, expressing ideas and opinions is great practice for being a useful part of it. If there’s a lot of negative stuff in your life you need to talk about, take your partner out of the house for a walk-and-talk. That way, meal times don’t become swamped in problems.
- ‘At home’ invitations
Correct deployment: send out paper invitations to your favourite people, letting them know you’ll be at home to receive them on a given date. Serve tea and coffee and light snacks, or if you’re on a budget, ask friends to bring a little something along. Games and puzzles are optional extras. RSVP.
Incorrect deployment: texting invitations.
Benefits: making your home a space for friends leaves you with wonderful memories in your space – no matter how large or small. It puts the focus on authentic relationships – vs what I call ‘experience-based relationships’ (going to see the latest show or the latest film). Again, the slightly formal invitation helps communicate the message that it’s a positive event – not an occasion to discuss your horrible boss, relationship or neighbours.
- Prayer/mediation before sleep
Correct deployment: at the start and/or end of the day, be at one with the universe, talk to God, or practice gratitude – whatever it is you do.
Incorrect deployment: going to a church/temple/mosque/group that saddles you with other peoples’ religious agendas.
Benefits: A daily spiritual moment in time, helps put everything that has happened to you into perspective. It’s a great ritual that you can do alone or with your partner to bring you closer, and practising this regularly can help during times of real stress, grief and distress. It also means you’re building in time for personal growth, recalibrating your life towards your personal values and exploring new horizons – with just a small effort.
© gvons 2016