Rituals are part of the human fiber. From the earliest periods of human interaction, tribes have engaged in rituals that help mark the passing of significant events and emphasize our shared experiences. With fewer and fewer cultural observances practiced in modernity, creating our own rituals among the people you share space with can preserve this sense of the sacred and help us find more fulfillment in our personal, family, and social lives. The nuclear family has always been the most primal of human connections, so why not start your ritual observances with those in your extended household?
Two rituals that are most important to CIVANA are our daily intention and gratitude ceremonies. In the morning, we gather as Colleagues and Guests (our version of extended family) to reflect on what action or attitude we’d most like to commit to that will make a positive difference. Setting intentions helps create a roadmap for your day—as we cultivate thoughts about what we want to do and how we want to be, we create a powerful sense of direction that our behavior naturally flows from to affect positive change. Every evening, we join hearts again to reflect on the day and bring a thankful mind to the gifts we were able to witness—whether from our work, play, nature, or each other. Basking in gratitude allows our joy to expand, and is even scientifically proven to make us happier.
Think about your day-to-day schedule and family unit. Now may be the right opportunity to start introducing rituals to your own family culture. The time of day isn’t important nor is the location. What is important is simply setting aside this time to deepen your ties to something greater than yourself.
CREATE YOUR CIRCLE
Here are some elements you may find helpful in creating your own intention or gratitude circle at home.
1. Opening Thoughts
Designate a person to lead the ritual for the day. (At CIVANA, we take turns!) This person can begin with a few words about the meaning of the ritual and what to expect. This can be very simple, such as “This morning we take time to set an intention for what’s most important to us today, so that we can live according to our values,” or “We gather to consider what we’re most thankful for today, knowing that when we focus on gratitude our joy expands.”
Or perhaps you may prefer to share an opening quote, such as one of the following:
• “Each future lies in a state of rest until it is awakened by choices made in the present.” — Gregg Braden
• “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” — Lao Tzu
• “You create a good future by creating a good present.” — Eckhart Tolle
• “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” —Aesop
• “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation of abundance.” —Eckhart Tolle
• “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer
2. Reflection Period
Set aside a brief period of silence (up to 1 minute typically feels good) in which family members can close their eyes and reflect on what feelings arise. Some people like to begin and end this period with the chime of a bell or gong—either a real one or through a sound played on their phone.
As you set your intention, think about:
• What will you be doing for yourself today?
• What has brought you here?
• If you could change one thing – one shift that you could set your sites on now, what would you shift?
• What could you do that brings you more joy?
As you reflect on what you are grateful for, think about:
• What was the best part of your day?
• Did something surprise you?
• Who in your life made it special or has helped you?
• Are there small things that you are taking notice of?
3. Sharing Period
After this period of silence (or the ringing of the 2nd bell), the leader invites everyone to open their eyes. Each person is given the opportunity to share the feelings that they noticed during their time of reflection—such as what their intention is or what they are grateful for. If you are not open to sharing what came up for you, use this time to offer your undivided attention to those in your circle and benefit by learning more about them. May your family be blessed this season with a richer appreciation of each other and of the things that are most important.
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