Five Benefits of Rituals

“Rituals” may be a confusing term for some people who don’t realized the benefits of rituals. When I was growing up Catholic, this term was off putting to me. It conjured images of black magic.

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Little did I realize I was involved in rituals everyday: I recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school, said a pray before meals, light candles as an altar server at church, and attended weddings and baptisms. All with positive, life-giving intentions. Rituals create a space for us to focus on what is most important to us, make commitments, embrace beliefs, forgive, celebrate accomplishment, honor community, and show appreciation. Whether we know it or not, we do them all the time. And the benefits are immeasurable.

Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible.

Five Benefits of Rituals

1. Rituals bring your awareness and attention to the present moment

Rituals create a slight or long pause in the day to focus on our intentions. They can be very fast, like kissing your mate goodbye as you leave the house. Or long — like a graduation. We focus for a moment on what is most precious to us in life. Our attention embraces it with our energy to take action.

2. It is an action step that gets you focused on action steps

Rituals like taking time each morning to set a daily intention, and at night to review the day, are action steps. We are engaging in action for a conscious purpose: to live the way we want to live. Taking these moments are important, since during them we are usually and necessarily committing to more action steps. If our intention in the morning is to not let anxiety take over our day, then we will be more likely to follow that up with action. If we review our day and realize that we created unnecessary waste, we can follow that they next day by making different choices.

3. Brings people together

One of the benefits of rituals is the they are often done in community. Like, mass, or a school picnic, or an awards ceremony. There is significance in the witnesses of these events. These events define us, contribute to our identity, and the witnesses help sustain these preferred identities. We are not a self in a vacuum. We need others to reflect back to us who we are and what our significance is.  This will help us going forward living and acting more closely with those ideals.

4. Reminds us to appreciate

Most rituals have an element of giving thanks. Taking time to be mindfully thankful is an important part of life. We often take so much for granted. Being grateful improves your outlook on life and gives you energy to create more goodness around you. Gratitude gives us a higher tolerance for hard times, patience for hard people, and tons of good feelings. It is always a win-win situation.

5. Creates meaning

As humans, we are meaning makers. That which has more meaning has more of our attention and energy. This is why cultures and religions all over the world have rituals. In rituals, we embody what is most important to us: we make commitments, embrace beliefs, forgive, celebrate accomplishment, honor community, and show appreciation. If we just make a commitment, without much hoopla, it is hard to sustain. The ritual create a sacred space for these commitments to more strongly take hold in our minds and hearts. Witnesses help us sustain our beliefs and action steps. Rituals fill us with a robustness that encourages us to go on and continue on our paths. Rituals make us stronger.

Stayed tuned. In Thursdays post, I will talk about how to create rituals to help imbue your own commitments, hopes, and dreams.

In the meantime, what rituals do you all do, and what benefits of rituals do you receive? 

Please share!

28 thoughts on “Five Benefits of Rituals”

  1. Jodi, this has helped me to understand rituals. I have always seen rituals as unneccesary practices in churches that were designed to get us closer to God. I always felt that if I wanted to get in touch with God I didn’t need things like communion, confessionals and such. I have always thought God was in me and knows what is in my heart. Therefore I could communicate with him anytime.

    I can’t wait to read Thursday’s blog.


    1. Awesome, Stanley! You can communicate with God anytime, but I might call this a ritual, too. Words don’t matter, what matters is what is means to you! BUt if you communicate with God, with intention, sacredness and mindfulness it will energize that communication, giving it more meaning!

  2. I used to have Rituals, most of them things i have created to sort of organize my life, my thoughts, my day in general. It used to help a lot to lessen anxiety when I know what to do and how. It creates a safe atmosphere. Sometimes it becomes very hard to maintain those rituals. It’s been very long since i really had any, but I’m sure it would be useful to try again.
    Nikky44 recently posted..I died at the age of 44My Profile

    1. Try again and see what happens. They can be very small. Even checking the blog can be a ritual. 🙂 Kissing the kids goodnight. Saying I love you when you sign off a texting conversation…just meaning. xoxo

  3. Harleena Singh@Freelance Writer

    Wonderful Jodi!

    Yes indeed, rituals are somethings that all of us need in our lives. Some people do relate rituals to God and prayers, but I think rituals are what make habits also because anything that you do as a ritual everyday, soon turns out to be bad or good habit with time.

    Smallest or the biggest of things can become a ritual. Simple things like washing your hands before meals, reading the newspaper at a particular time, waking up your kids, holding hands and sleep, and just about anything. What matters most is that the ritual you follow is something that is good and benefits you and your loved one, or else sometimes it turns out to become a bad habit.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Thanks for this post, Jodi. I am starting to see the rituals at church to be more meaningful than I used to. Now I see the rituals that lead up to Communion, for example, as a preparation and bringing together, not just something to “get through.”

    I don’t think rituals just have to be religious, either. I like the idea of creating rituals that make life more meaningful.
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    1. I am glad I broke down some of that for you. Words are funny, they carry meaning and connotation, but it means different things to different people. They don’t have to be religious there there is consciousness involved!

  5. Man…rituals…I think my life is chock full of rituals. I’d like to say it’s because I’m organized have created a perfectly structured life that allows me to flourish. But in truth, I’ve had to create all the rituals just to keep from forgetting everything I’ve set out to do. And my world just doesn’t seem right if all my little mental boxes aren’t checked.

    I’ve got specific things I do every morning, regardless of circumstance or schedule. I’ve got specific things I do at work, depending on the day of the week. I’ve got specific rituals for each different weeknight.

    Although, before now, I never really thought of them as rituals and I certainly didn’t see them as impacting or beneficial. But simply as the way I do things.

    Thanks for, once again, helping me see things in a MUCH different light.
    Greg at Tiny Bit Better recently posted..A Tiny Bit GratefulMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Greg, sometimes I think it is one of my jobs in life to break down some of these taken for granted stuff and give people a new perspective!

  6. Jodi, I have a ritual, at the end of the day of work, errands, writing and the usual stress-inducing stuff, I get ready for bed and watch my favorite news analysis show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I inevitably laugh my head off, which is the best ritual of all.
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  7. Ooh yeah! I love a good ritual! My best days start with creating intentions on how I want to feel and show up in the world. I love this post though – it’s broadened and extended my thinking into the benefits of rituals, not just for self but for everyone. Thanks Jodi.

  8. We talk a lot about ritual in our church (Unitarian Universalist), I was also raised Catholic and was put off by it at first. Now I see the value in it & agree with all of your points. I look forward to reading more:)

    1. Thanks Bridget, My Catholic upbringing really still have some of those ideals from the 1600’s! Crazy! Thanks so much for reading with all you have going on!

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