Rituals are an important part of our culture–from Thanksgiving dinner to 4th of July fireworks, we rely on these repeated customs for connection with family and with friends. Rituals are also closely associated with organized religions–weekly or for some daily mass, prayers at Noon. Rites of passage are often marker by rituals–bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceanera, proms.
Small daily practices can be rituals, too. Morning coffee, meditations. Mine have been interrupted or perhaps even corrupted. I have aging parents living with me. With aging comes loss of hearing. With loss of hearing comes loudness–loud tv, loud conversations marked with the impatience that one is not able to hear the other. It is never quiet here. So I have had to make adjustments. I moved my office to a corner far removed from the in-law apartment. I use sound–binaural music, tibetan bowls, fans–to block out the noise. And if I am honest with myself, I resent the heck out of it.
I mean, it’s my house, my dwelling, where I dwell. Yet I am dwelling (!) in the negative meaning of the word, on why I have to make all these concessions to be peaceful in my own space! Granted, the concessions have worked for the most part (she said sheepishly.) Weekends and early mornings are still difficult. I have a lovely home, with many rooms and I don’t want to be sitting at my computer 24/7! So I have been trying to get up earlier, to beat my parents to the punch, to be able to sit with my coffee for a few minutes of birds chirping and breezes blowing. And a few minutes is literally all I have been able to carve out! So far 20 minutes is the max.
I love quiet. My favorite moment of being on our boat is when the sails are up, and we shut the engine off. In that moment is the shock of stillness. And it hits me every single time. Maybe that’s part of the reason I love sailing in Maine so much, the small coves far from any roads where we can drop an anchor for the evening and hear nothing but nature. Even that, getting away on the boat, will become more challenging, as with age for my parents, along with deafness, comes falls and the inability to get up; the difficulty of preparing proper meals (more than a can of sodium-laden soup); the strain of even getting out of the house for a change of scenery or fresh air.
DON’T I LOOK PEACEFUL?
So I am working on new rituals, ones that will clear away my resentment and allow me to be patient and generous of spirit. Ones that will sustain me through what I believe are more challenging days ahead. Help me think about what I can do. What helps clear your mind and space of negativity? What rituals are part of your day?