Article from Kidz on the Coast Magazine – April/May 2009

Have you ever felt that special energy at a wedding ceremony, where you are swept up in a warm and uplifting feeling? Maybe during the ceremony you found yourself focussing on the message delivered by the celebrant or minister and it gave you an opportunity to reflect on your relationships and the love in your life. When you participate in a collective experience such as a wedding ceremony it provides a positive concentration on love and it can create a very tangible change in our emotional state.

For all the major life events, not just weddings, but birthdays, namings, and even funerals, it is through ceremony that we can give expression and focus to the people and events that shape our experience of love. Ceremony offers words and symbols, and a time and place, to consciously engage with our feelings and relationships. It can take you out of your everyday thoughts and create a way to acknowledge and celebrate love. Ritual and ceremony can lift you to a higher state of thinking and feeling – to a state of ‘conscious loving’.

In my work as a celebrant, I am continually amazed and uplifted at the capacity for anyone and everyone to experience love and the many expressions of love.  My profession places me at the coalface of modern relationships, real families, and real couples, and I find myself often reflecting about life and love, marriage and relationships; birth and death.  At the centre of it all is eternal experience of love.    What I have noticed, regardless of the occasion or situation, is the essential role of ritual and ceremony in the human experience of love.

Ceremony and ritual can be created from any inspiration. It does not have to be confined to the big life event ceremonies such as christenings, weddings and funerals. Ceremony can be small and private, an everyday practice.  We can all find areas in our life where we can create a small ritual or conduct a ceremony to bring a new level of awareness to our life and love, and find a moment in our day or week to cultivate acts of ‘conscious loving’.

For example, I have a small table with special family photos and items of sentimental value.  Each morning I light a small tea light with my kids and we say a small blessing for our family and give thanks for the day.  It’s simple. It takes just a minute. However, it is enough to provide a moment of pause, and focus our thoughts on the love we have for each other. We verbalise our good intentions for the day and give thanks for what we have.

Another thing we do is once a month we have a ‘family ceremony’. Again this is nothing fancy. We create a circle and light a few candles and focus the conversation on our family. Sometimes this may coincide with a birthday or special event or a seasonal celebration.  We recognise the achievements of our two boys and how they are developing. My husband and I acknowledge each other. It is an opportunity to be all together and centre our family unit.

For people with a religious faith, practices like these may seem like nothing new, however for many families who live mostly secular lifestyles, these rituals may be an appealing alternative and offer a way to foster a family’s well being and connectedness.  It certainly helps to keep our family on track. I know my children and husband enjoy these gatherings and whether they realise it or not, we are creating ceremony and performing an act of ‘conscious loving’.

For your special relationships and your families’ wellbeing, try to find how you can integrate time to connect together with your own rituals and ceremonies. With a bit of creativity and planning, you can develop ways that works for you and your family to practice small and regular acts of ‘conscious loving’.