Holding Space: The Power of Ritual

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We are deep into ritual season. This is the time of year when many rituals that brought us comfort or happiness in our childhood are dusted off and relived. For some reason, we have carried on these rituals. They are a powerful part of our memory and it is hard to imagine a year without them. It’s easy to think about the rituals we engage in during the holiday season, but what about the rest of the year.

“This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping.” Elizabeth Gilbert

As a therapist, I find comfort in my daily rituals, allowing for a space to clear the energy and emotions that I hold for others. When I was working in South Los Angeles, it would take me about 60 minutes to get to work and 60-90 minutes to get home. I was in the field, doing therapy in people’s homes, schools and in my office. It was a long day and I found it necessary to learn how to shed the stories that I was so deeply invested in to help my client’s heal.

On my way into the office, I would listen to Valentine in the Morning on 104.3 MyFM. The humor and camaraderie between the hosts felt like I was spending the morning with friends. I knew all about their lives and felt invested. As I left work at the end of the day, I would take off my watch in the car then turn on 89.3 KPPC, the local NPR station as I battled three freeways home. Listening to NPR helped me to catch up on the world in what felt like a one-on-one friendship. Once home, I would immediately change clothes, taking off my work costume and putting on the most comfortable thing I could find in order to “de-role” from my job as therapist and become me again.

These rituals served as important transitions, creating space, which in turn created boundaries between my home life and my professional life.

How often do we bring work home? How does this effect how present we can be with ourselves and/or our families? How would your life be different if you used the transitional space that is often used to distract as a way to ground, even grow? What stops you?

I invite you to be mindful of the way in which you release your day, whether you are a stay at home mom, a single parent rushing from work to pick up your child, or an artist working late with a deadline on the horizon. Creating a ritual may allow more space for connection, to be present both with yourself and those you love.

Looking for ways to de-stress and release the energy you hold throughout the day? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me.