The Importance of Rituals

 

Ritual plays a big part in our home. October Half Term is THE time for making the Christmas cake. Recipes come and go but the ritual of buying ingredients, soaking the fruit and mixing the cake two months before Christmas remains the same. Mary Berry’s version (above) with the odd twist from me is this year’s cake of choice. (I used homemade cherry brandy and a slightly different combination of dried fruit.)

There was a time when I had three little helpers in the kitchen. This year I have one away preparing for a university cycling competition, one upstairs doing his A Level coursework and one relaxing with friends before the next spurt of GCSE mock revision. They’ve all ‘checked in’ that the Christmas cake is in hand.

Being a Celt and a mother it’s not surprising that food plays a big part in our family life and that I share kitchen rituals from my own mother and grandmother with my own children and, one day perhaps, they’ll share the same ones with their own children. Of course they’ll change some; they’ll adapt some; they may even abandon some but that connection and routine is important to our well-being and sense of identity. If you want to read more about the importance of ritual and routine try this as a starting point.

 

Morning meditations

On some days of the week I get into work early leaving my husband to sort out packed lunches, breakfast and setting our teenagers off to school. On these occasions I  have time to sit and think before the business of the day gets underway. Printing materials for class, last minute marking feedback and the listening to teenage angst are put aside. School days are packed with conversations and I crave the silence of an empty classroom to centre me in preparation for these – space to slow down and relax a bit.

A five-minute morning meditation is a simple, easy ritual that can have tons of benefits. Taking time to focus entirely on the present is easy enough in the holidays but once term is underway it becomes more difficult but more necessary. Establishing a routine is vital. I brew a pot of coffee and carry it up to my classroom with my favourite mug to begin. I’m lucky in that my room looks out on the science department garden and greenhouse but I keep my focus on the jam jar of fresh seasonal flowers that always sits on my desk. I like the changing of the seasons reflected in my flower choices. Most are home-grown. It’s no surprise that I was a regular contributor to the nature table when I was a school pupil. Then, whilst seated in my chair it’s all about controlling my breathing and gently letting all the thoughts that flood my mind float away as and when they appear.

It takes about three weeks of determined effort to establish a routine and then it becomes second nature. I highly recommend it for both teachers and students whose minds are constantly at work. Of course it takes time to train your mind to be in the present. Silence can be a scary place for teenagers, but great things can happen in the silence.

 

 

 

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