Messages from the Masters
Rituals Are Comforting by Sheila Murray Bethel, Ph.D.

When things are changing too fast for you, grab hold of a constant—a ritual—in your life and hang on tight. But what are these comforting rituals in our swiftly shifting world? What anchors won't suddenly slip away, leaving us feeling confused or lost?

Our lives are full of them at all levels: national, religious, cultural, corporate, and family. Rituals can be pleasant like birthday parties and Fourth of July picnics. They can be spiritual, like weekly religious services or writing an annual check to your favorite charity. They can even be less-than-pleasant, like cleaning out the garage or doing income taxes. Nevertheless, ritual activities remind us of our connection to the world and its cycles. They form a valuable framework for renewal.

Today, family members often live separate lives, and cultural ties are often erased in the American melting pot, it is easy to feel disconnected and isolated. We have little to cling to. If you don't have enough meaningful rituals in your life, create some. Design significant events to do regularly with your family, your friends, and your colleagues. Something they will remember with nostalgia in years to come.

One example is a remarkable garden in Covina California. Every year since 1973, Helen Crawford has led her neighbors in planting tulip bulbs on the day after Thanksgiving. (In their hot climate, tulips are annuals, not perennials.) The youngest child can participate, and many who have grown up and moved away come back each year with their own children for "tulip day." The planting has become a treasured neighborhood ritual. In 2000, they planted 4,000 bulbs. In addition, thousands of southern California families have a spring tradition of visiting the garden in bloom.

Create personal rituals for yourself too, cost-free things that you can do even if you are busy or tired. Read a favorite poem or book regularly. Wish on a new moon. Commemorate the changing seasons by planning an outdoor event.  Celebrate an achievement or your favorite holiday in a special way. Build reaffirming rituals with your family, colleagues, friends, and neighbors that become a sustaining beacon in the storm of change.

To learn more about Sheila Murray Bethel's audios, books and speaking schedule, visit  © Copyright Bethel Institute 2000

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International