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The Value of Rituals

For most people (particularly those in Western society), life is fast paced, stressful, and all about multi-tasking. We rarely (if ever) take a moment to stop and enjoy the simple things in life. Rituals can be an effective way to be present, slow down and savour the moment you're in.

Rituals can be any type of regular task from enjoying a cup of tea while dipping your biscuit, to performing your own good luck ritual before giving a speech. Rituals bring you into the present moment, they slow you down and help you to just be. Performing rituals that you connect with can help to reduce stress while allowing you to be more ‘in flow’ with life. They allow you to enjoy the moment rather than mindlessly rushing from one task to the next.

If you watch how the Japanese traditionally perform a simple task such as making tea, you will notice the beautiful flow and slow graceful focus they have. Every small movement is done with intention. Slowly and carefully. They don’t make tea while typing an email, texting a friend and trying to beat the beep of the microwave that’s heating up their lunch. Each task is done separately, and with presence. Never rushed, and never stressful. A perfect example you can see is by watching a Japanese Tea Ceremony on YouTube.

Of course you don’t have to go to the extent of a Japanese Tea Ceremony to benefit from a ritual, and most of us don’t have the time for that. However, just watching one inspires me incorporate such graceful intention into some of my own tasks. I have a feeling that if I had used some of these skills during food or drink preparation it may have saved many cups and bowls from their unfortunate shattered fate.

Since becoming aware of rituals and their benefits, I realise that growing up I had many rituals myself, particularly with treats. Whenever my mum gave me a Magnum ice cream I had a very specific way to eat it. I would chip off the chocolate piece by piece and eat it. Then I would slowly eat the ice cream underneath. Biting the whole thing together was not as satisfying. It tasted better my way, just like cutting toast in to triangles. Triangles taste better ya know!

We also had a family ritual with Mallowpuff biscuits (you may need to Google them if you’re not from New Zealand). We would tap them on our head to break the chocolate coating, chip it off, then eat the marshmallow, and lastly eat the biscuit base. Now this makes my family sound nuts (and they probably are a little), but it made the process of eating a treat much more social and fun; and became our ritual.

Living in the fast paced Western world can make it difficult to slow done and perform tasks as rituals. We feel like we must multitask and rush through everything because there just isn’t enough time. However, making time for a ritual that you enjoy can give you a moment to stop and smell the roses, as they say. And it can be anything from food, to a walk in nature; a task you love, or coffee. It’s a moment when you stop, slow down and forget about what you have to do next. A moment to focus on yourself and just enjoy the beauty of living. And that must be good for your well being!

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