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LostInParadise's avatar

How important is ritual to psychological well being?

Asked by LostInParadise (28217points) April 11th, 2010

We all think of ourselves as rational beings with no need for tradition or ritual, but we have parts of our lives that have become ritualized. We get up at a certain time, eat at certain times, commute at certain times and go to work at regular times. Many attend regular religious services once a week or visit grave sites yearly. We still have a few holidays that we celebrate regularly. Some of this works for pragmatic reasons. By having certain things done at regular intervals, it provides a framework for us to operate in.

How important is ritual and regularity to our well being? Do we need a degree of certainty in our lives? Would we be better off with a little bit more of it? I am of the opinion that much of the anxiety of our lives is due to insufficient regularity. Change, novelty and choice are good to have but there can be too much of a good thing.

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15 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I think ritual is very important. it gives us comfort. On the other hand, it ties us down. I think we need to be flexible with it and recognize its role in our lives.

anartist's avatar

I think it helps a lot. It gives us a framework that can run on auto-pilot in the background while we go after the change and choice that we want and need.

BoBo1946's avatar

It works for me! as i’ve gotten older, getting “sat” in my ways!

wundayatta's avatar

Ritual is crucial. It is what gets us out of our talking minds and into our body minds. We cease “thinking” about the world, and instead, experience the world directly, with no separation between us and it. The world is no longer being filtered through a judging, analyzing consciousness.

The rational mind is rather egotistical. It thinks it is the only mind that counts. The only reasonable mind. The only mind that sees things as they are. Unfortunately, the rational mind is blinded by it’s rationality. It has not idea it no longer experiences things directly.

Ritual can help us quiet the rational mind. It doesn’t always do it, but it is a big step in the process. Many rituals don’t go that far, but even if you get a moment of peace saying a blessing before eating, or while brushing your teeth, it is better than nothing. At it’s best, ritual can help us out of our minds and into our bodies very effectively, and it helps us experience an amazing sense of timeless hereness, where we are connected to all that surrounds us, as if there is no separation.

It’s an important feeling, I believe, because it teaches us that we are not independent operators that have no affect on our surroundings. It helps us understand the millions of ways we connect, and to understand how our actions affect everything around us.

That’s why I believe ritual is crucial. It is that which supports empathy and understanding of the way we fit in the world and in humanity and society and culture and community.

j0ey's avatar

Rituals are a huge part any culture. And culture is something that separates us from other life on this planet and has given us an advantage as a species (there is also evidence of specific culture in chimps). Partaking in certain rituals, especially when they are involving other people give us a sense of belonging, and therefore a sense of security, and therefore on a very fundamental level has a huge role in human survival.

Rituals on a personal level are key to survival aswell. The fact that you have a ritual of eating at a certain time, and brushing your teeth at a certain time, and going for a walk at a certain time, and that you feel “wrong” if you don’t do these things makes you live your life the way you have worked out you need to do, to function properly.

As you probably know, some of the symptoms of depression are (1) Ceasing participation in activities that were once a enjoyed (group rituals) and (2) Losing interest in grooming, cooking, cleaning to a noticeable and detrimental extent (personal rituals).

These are the symptoms, but it is possible that these are the causes as well.

Basically human beings have evolved to need rituals to survive and feel part of a group. That is why they are so important to psychological well being.

Coloma's avatar

I think it depends on the ritual.

Holidays & minor habits aside.

When using the word ‘ritual’ it brings to mind obsessive/compulsive issues.

It is one thing to be conscientious and entirely another to be rigid & inflexable.

I am conscientious about caring for my plants in summer, they get daily watering and attention to thrive.

If, however, I HAD to water them at precisely 5 p,m. and could never defer from that ritual/routine, could not water them at 4 or 6, and turned down an invitation because I had to be home at 5, well…thats rigidity and not healthy IMO.

I think flexability is always the healthier choice.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Ritual… the mother of all Discipline.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Ritual fulfills part of a need for certainty, which reduces stress in our lives. The familiar is calming.

I just noticed that “ritual” is in spiritual

BoBo1946's avatar

loll..what a boring bunch!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I can be a bit obseesive about certain “rituals”. Everything in its place, spotlessly clean, clutter is the enemy. My though processes don’t seem to work right in a cluttered environment.

partyparty's avatar

I like flexibiity. I don’t get up at a certain time, I don’t eat at certain times of day, I certainly don’t do my shopping on specific days and I don’t walk my dogs at a specified time (although they do know approximately when it is time to go out). I like to do whatever I want, when I want.

I will invite friends round for a meal at short notice. It’s the sponteneity that I love, and keeps my life exciting. I just don’t like routine.

A psychologist friend of mine once said ’“do something different each day, even if it is putting your socks on in a different order. That way you are keeping your mind alert”. I hope the idea is working for me.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It’s important to me. I don’t get dirty enough in a day to warrant a morning and an evening shower, I could easily go with a sponge bath for several days but the shower begins my day and is part of my decompressing in the evenings. Same thing could be said of sex, I don’t intend on making babies but I still look to the sex act as a stress relief, a bonding with my partner and the best damn exercise I know.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Rituals can be very comforting to certain psychological types because they give structure and meaning to what might otherwise be percieved as a chaotic and dangerous world.

chamelopotamus's avatar

Rituals give us something to compare our current experience with our last experience of whatever ritual we are performing. They are landmarks to show us how we change.

mattbrowne's avatar

More important than many realize.

Take the Fluther 10K celebrations for example and how powerful and emotional they are.

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