There are many different kinds of gifts. The ones that come to mind most readily, of course, are always wrapped nicely and arrive on special occasions. There is another kind of gift however, that being the gift of insight. Insight is quite unique in that it most often arrives unexpectedly for both the giver and recipient. It arrives simply as a result of an open sharing of thoughts and ideas. Insight can’t be planned, although we often give each other books or other presents in the hope that insight will follow. The significance of insight is that it adds to our life in a non-material way by increasing our understanding of life itself. It’s a bit like finding a long missing piece to that jigsaw puzzle that is yourself. Long after the toaster oven or MP3 player have been forgotten, that gift of insight is still adding to our understanding of the world around us.
I recently had two seemingly unrelated conversations that together illuminated an understanding of the role of small rituals in our lives.
The first conversation was with a patient who is a business coach. This gentleman always has interesting things to say, and his experience in training groups to improve their attitude and performance in the business world is fascinating to discuss. He recommended that I read a book entitled The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The authors describe how small rituals can help manage and increase the positive energy in our lives; physical, emotional and spiritual. Being the creatures of habit that we are, most of our behaviors are automatic or reactionary in nature. Only a small amount of our behavior is "considered” or pre-meditated. When we develop rituals that keep us centered and help us stay focused on positive outcomes, it influences our automatic behaviors in a positive way. We are automatically functioning in better harmony.
My second experience happened a few weeks later. I was treating a young patient who comes in along with her mother for occasional care. "Angela” is a really interesting fourteen year old and is very much her own person, as they say. When she got off of my Chiropractic table, she stood up and made a motion near her head with her hands. Curious, I asked "What was that?” "Oh I was just straightening my imaginary tiara,” she replied with a grin. After a few moments, I told her that I hoped that she never ever lost her imaginary tiara and that it had left a big impression on me. I also asked if she would mind me sharing her story with others and of course she replied, "sure.”
Not everyone may see such an action in the same way, but here’s what impressed me. "Angela” had developed a small ritual designed to lighten her spirit and underscore her sense of self worth. Maybe it was her own little way of preparing to greet the world confidently. Of course, you would have to know "Angela”, but hers was definitely not the act of a self- absorbed prima donna. On reflection, it reminded me of another small ritual I had seen a few years ago. I witnessed a massage therapist friend perform his own little ritual after dealing with a particularly difficult patient. Without going into specifics, it was his way of shaking off the residue from his previous encounter, in order to clear his mind and spirit for the next patient.
The suggestion of a book by one person and the innocent demonstration of one of its principles by another added understanding and increased meaning to my life; gifts for which I’m truly grateful. It introduced me to the value of small positive rituals. Is there a small ritual that you can develop to help improve your life? What gifts of insight have you received lately?