Ritual Revival

By Jarrod Denson / January 11, 2013

Create wellness by elevating routines to rituals One way that spas attempt to integrate healthy activities into a person’s life is through the concept of “daily practices.” Spas, perhaps because of their roots in ancient traditions, teach us to think of daily practice not as a routine, but as a ritual. A routine becomes ritual when it is assigned greater meaning through symbolism and ceremony. Commitment to a ritual is generally more emotional and often extends beyond an individual, being passed down from generation to generation.

The idea of rituals is fading fast from our modern lifestyle and, along with them, our sense of identity, community and meaning. Who can be bothered to take extra steps if they are not necessary? Why send a hand-written letter when you can blast out a quick email from your smartphone? Why spend time preparing an intricate meal when you can pop a package into the microwave and have a complete meal in 5 minutes? These modern conveniences do help us save time, but at a certain cost. The loss of ritual comes with a loss of calm in our pace of life and a loss of appreciation for some of the dayto- day aspects of life and living. Rituals can give some stability and purpose to our hectic, high-tech lives.

Ritualizing routines can also help bring more meaning to the daily activities that are important for achieving and maintaining health. Many of these behaviors are regular routines: exercise, meal preparation, taking vitamins or medications, bathing, brushing, flossing, meditating, etc. Creating rituals around them can make them more meaningful, contribute to an emotional investment and commitment and improve adherence over the long term.

To develop your own wellness rituals, consider the following:

1. What do you value?
Your ritual should be something that you feel is truly important; something that you don’t want to rush through, even when time is short. This could be time with your family, prayer or reflection or participating in some healthy activity.

2. When will you practice?
Rituals are usually scheduled in a specific time and place. Examples could be cooking together and having a family dinner every Tuesday evening at home, or meditating for 10 minutes every morning before getting out of bed.

3. How will you mark the occasion?
To prevent your ritual from becoming routine, find creative ways to make the moment special: wear something special, play specific music to set the tone or decorate the space in a different way. Remember, a ritual is not just about getting something done; it’s about doing it the right way.

Rituals are about creating positive habits that will help you to celebrate life, take care of your health and mark life’s significant milestones. The rituals you incorporate into your life can have a great effect on the goals you achieve, the happiness you experience and not only the person you are today, but the one you will become tomorrow.

Adapted from The Psychology of Spas & Wellbeing by JEREMY MCCARTHY, available at http://psychologyofwellbeing.com/psychology-of-spa