How does ritual serve us and why is it important in relationship?
So much of relationship is based on our consumer world of fast paced life, barely giving us time to breath into the sensory experience of togetherness, beyond the daily tasks of routine life or 'fast food' intimacy. What is the impact of living in a consumer world?
We may find ourselves marooned without the energy to be emotionally available to our partner or another. Compromising time in bringing gentle understanding through holding our thoughts, feelings, or bodies in a way that brings comfort and presence, finding conflicting emotions and feelings to overwhelm and instruct chaos, as we try to navigate our way through the complexities.
Those that want to skip the emotional intimacy of connection and get straight to physical contact, do so at great risk to heart ache as empathy and understanding is abandoned, giving rise to more prolific forms of rejection, neglect and abandonment, that can feel heart breaking through a deep loss of centre or care. However, looking into why a person behaves in this way leads us to uncover deep pains often from childhood that may cause emotional avoidance, a form of defence. Often emotional intimacy can be seen as too much work or weight to carry.
Ritual can therefore create not only a structure for the relationship to find its romantic centre, but also it can be key in providing safety, opening us up to our deeper feelings, enabling bonding through eye contact and leaning into a stronger sense of trust. The safety of creating a ‘holding space’ to enjoy each other on a deep level of care, creativity, beauty, trust, enables a peaceful element of voice to bring respect and understanding. This can create a bond which can lead to a beautiful memory, a centred respect and an understanding of value; great foundations to enable the more intense experience and emotions that arise through physical expression and physical relationship.
When we take time, to create a peaceful environment, with candles and a beautiful meal, that stimulate our senses. When we sit opposite each other, enabling eye contact; we are enabling a meaningful encounter with our love; to enjoy each other, our gifts of presence, our offerings, learnings and an experience of sensuality.
Ideas that bring inspiration, creativity or connect to a memory, environments that value individual expressions of beauty, all give a sense of power to otherwise derelict and ruinous moments. Music and dancing enables us to communicate with our bodies, to experience the sensuality of the movement and each other with emotion and trust, giving rest from more heady areas of thought, to enable a free flow of motion, contact and holding space.
A loss of emotional intimacy can feel like a deep abandonment, stirring fear of rejection, enabling neglect to run riot with a loss of power and a sensation of life ‘falling’ apart. When decisions cannot be made, alignment cannot be reached, uncertainty is constant, anxiety causes sleepless nights, we cannot ‘pull’ life together to bring stability and dependability.
What elements cause the stress?
Financial stress, sexual stress or children are the main three elements people are said to feel vulnerable about, one may become emotional unavailable in respect of. This is because the leaning in to the problem can feel overwhelming and starts to challenge dependancy, co-dependancy, judgements and the power dynamic. For example, a person who was previously strong in say financial security may suddenly feel small when they loose their job, or fall on ‘harder times’, or someone who was dominant sexually may feel unavailable or inadequate after having a baby or an operation. It can feel very intimidating talking about these aspects of vulnerability if there is no safe space to do it. Reassessing values and shared understanding can lead to a more centred place of vision, bringing unity and communion back through deeper understanding of energy values. Meaning that which provides a ritual to energise the individual and that which provides energy to fuel the relationship.
Certain activities and gestures can re-fill empty tanks of compassion fatigue, such as spending time in graceful holding spaces. Acts to show care, through presence, hand holding, small gifts, stroking, activities that enable a peaceful togetherness, presence without a need to talk, presence and care without a need to change.
Dating in committed relationship, through sharing meals, walks, time with water activities, adventure through the journey of beautiful experiences, allows these three areas of vulnerability to be talked about in adult ways, so that strategies can be put in place to enable a flow of communication and emotional intimacy. Safe space is needed away from the home and the bedroom to enable a relationship to develop and build around connecting to the ‘power’ of the relationship, instead of the individual person's status. Power dynamics arise through changes of circumstance, when children are born or there is a change of job, lifestyle. These can create huge disturbances and you find yourself at two ends of the polarity of empathy and anxiety or avoidance and narcism, getting back to a grounded sense of non judgement, empathy and understanding means rebuilding trust and dependability. Giving time to understand deeper fears and tensions both in daily life and your own fears of not being accepted by your partner for your vulnerabilities.
One can find that a person who does not want to be emotionally available in their source, due to their attachment style may try to skip through some parts of the ritual process; ‘I do not date’, (or spend couple time) an off hand response, often experienced when a person just goes from one person to the next without too much thought, as to the responsibility of creating a healthy foundation or avoids committed emotional intimacy. The suggestion of - ‘I do not want to spend the money on this’, can lead to a sense of withdrawal which can feel rejecting from the dating of ritual. A home cooked meal or a picnic can be chosen, sometimes there is an upper hand, skipping the talking of shared experience, or dealing with the financial concerns, emotional intimacy and sometimes getting out of spending romantic time together.
The values of romantic moments and investment in each other, are best communicated and shared looking at each person's investment of time, how enriching the experience is and how energising it feels, all of which allow a person's value and identity to be shared.
Deep seated fears of rejection and abandonment, lead to acts of defence in protecting heart and territory, by keeping an other, at arms length so you never fully experience a healthy flow of intimacy.
It is not the date as such that is needed, it is the ritual of dressing or undressing (if at a spa) to take care of oneself and each other, to be able to bond through long periods of eye contact, to make a magical memory that is memorable, to inspire through ideas and adventure. To enable the experience of support to be experienced through talking, sharing, finding ones feet and sharing fears.
Eye gazing through long periods of eye contact has been proven to enable deep seated empathy, so as a practice and a ritual, it can really encourage a healthy experience and bond, giving 20 mins to sitting closely infront of each other, holding each others gaze, directly enables a holding of each others soul. Confronting each others intimate space, understanding one own's inner world of reactivity, peace, reflection, gives space to processing on a soul level. To get the best out of this meditation, it is possible to count from 50 to 1 before opening one's eyes and holding each other through the gaze. A practice of this every week can really change the experience of communication and the relationship.
The ritual of marriage, is made easier now we can seperate, legal concerns, spritual experience and promises. Choices that enable couples to find a more empowered way of dealing with the their experience of life, financially, with children, how active they are sexually and in respect to the kind of relationship that develops. Later in life companionship, emotional intimacy, can be more important for some than sexual intimacy, but for some they express love through touch and deep physical intimacy; different forms of commitment and ritual help support the concerns by a direct look at the tensions and a willingnes to meet each other on that journey of vulnerability, again looking directly at the tensions and reality of the relationship around money, sex and children.
Recognising the triggers of vulnerability - defence systems of flight or fight, fear of rejection, neglect or abandonment helps to contain the relationship. The rituals we do, in transparency in our situations, in providing a space for understanding, enable us to feel our way and choose boundaries that suit healthy reciprocal responses, to find rituals to counteract some of those fears. The clearing out of fear, is a form of detoxification, done regularly it allows a more clarified response and more honest communication instead of reactivity.
Daily or weekly rituals; such as coffee making, flower giving, meal cooking, looking after the children so personal interests can be expressed, help with practical life, can help develop roles and routines of ritual. These add to dependable, trusting areas of reminders of love and care. Nurturing the relationship so there is a constant reminder that love is shared, words spoken, 'I Iove you', awaken security and give a foundation of love, so that the relationship can centre, letting go of defence to give the ritual of 'we are centred in love' little reminders around the house, little experiences of rapport encourage us to see the love is real, sharing feelings, by starting sentances with 'I feel...' using non violent communication.
To regulate emotions when things do get tricky, we can take time to step back, allow emotions to settle, then re-present concerns from a peaceful and respectful place, by reflecting to find clarity, before talking about feelings, sensory experiences, fears.
Understanding each others childhood trauma and deeper triggers around fears of abandonment, rejection and neglect, helps us move past the circles of defence in to a more compassionate area of romancing our pains through beauty, respect and being present in a compassionate way. To restore a sense of trust, we can simplify to go to eye contact, holding, using empathy.
Stroking hair, face, back enables a slow build up of energy, that can contain a physical relationship so that it doesn’t risk bringing up concerns around financial, sexual or child issues. Finding healthy boundaries so that the physical relationship is ring fenced to not immediately lead to sex, provides containment and enables exploration of past pain, with physical sensations and emotional intimacy so that a new space can build healthy responses and energy until the relationship recovers and can find its buoyancy again. Holding back sexually so as not to be focused on the outcome but be present with the moment, exploring emotional presence and feelings, just simply allowing the flow of feeling to guide.
Getting to know dependable life experiences, knowing each others deepest wounds by getting to know each others deepest fears, it is important to reflect on deep seated feelings and really own the space you are in in recognising fear. Learning to ask your partner - What is worrying you? What scares you about my response? How can we create safety? What do you need right now? How do you feel inside? Do you feel small? Or expansive? What fears are triggered when you are taking time away? What fears are triggered when you experience a withdrawal of love? What fears are triggered when anxiety means no sleep?
These are the deeper elements of relationship that need time and understanding to weave into the bond of living, giving a sense of net to catch you, so that when you fall there is always understanding and trust to hold you, confronting each others fears in neglect, abandonment and rejection really helps to reduce reactivity and to find a safe place to bond and create a beautiful life together.
Exercises in trust and dependability then only strengthen the relationship.
Working Processes with Intimacy and Ritual -
The power cycles of relationship can be expressed through polarities - narcism and avoidance to anxiety and empathy - please book an appointment.
Workshops in 'The ‘Tree of Life’ can be used to express in the Seriphot Values of Grace, Wisdom, Severity, Understanding, Foundation, Victory, Surrender, Eternity, working through the cycles and phases of growth, intimacy and learning. A Life of Bliss by Amanda McGregor is available on Amazon. Amanda holds meditation spaces in the Tree of Life and Intimacy.
The medicine wheel helps us to use the elemental energies to transform to the beat of the drum, meditation space for processing and sharing, meditation space.
A vision board, developing shared values can be done in a couple of hours session, creative expression.
'Guided Eye Gazing' to reconnect, heal and bond - Appointments available
More information - www.amandamcgregor.com - Appointments and workshops online as well as in person.