As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with individuals, couples, families, and high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. I’ve often noticed in my practice that my clients don’t incorporate Transition Rituals into their daily lives; In turn, their relationships and sports performances suffer. I don’t begrudge my clients for not doing so, however. I believe that they don’t make use of Transition Rituals because they don’t know what they are. In light of this, I’d like to take a moment to share with you what Transition Rituals are in the first place.
Transition rituals are periods of time that are carved out by someone for the purpose of changing their psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual state. In addition, transition rituals are intended to help people access different parts of their personality. They’re most effective when they’re done with with intention, purpose, and mindfulness. When we engage in a transition ritual while feeling distracted and not fully present, they fail to assist us in any meaningful way. Take, for example, the morning Transition Ritual of getting out of bed, showering, brushing your teeth, and putting on your dress clothes. If these acts are done mindlessly and/or unconsciously, they will fail to assist us in preparing ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the day ahead.
Mild mannered Clark Kent, on the other hand, created a Transition Ritual that worked wonders for him, and he did so with conscious intention and purpose. In times of crisis, he would ritually duck into a telephone booth or stock room to make his transformation into Superman. As the Superman franchise evolved over the years, his new Transition Ritual involved quickly entering into a revolving door, spinning through it at incredible speeds while changing his clothes, and emerging moments later as Superman, donning a red cape while having access to superhuman strength and superhero powers so that he could go about saving the world one crisis at a time.
We can all use Transition Rituals in our daily lives to change our state and/or to access different parts of our personality. Take, for example, the lives of a police officer, a family therapist, and a professional Mixed Martial Artist:
If an authoritarian police officer does not engage in a Transition Ritual before he comes home to greet his wife and children, for example, he’s likely to bring the same stoic, law-abiding, inflexible mentality home with him, which would in turn cause his wife and children to want to withdraw from him; If a Marriage and Family Therapist doesn’t engage in a Transition Ritual after a long day of working with clients, he or she may be prone to offering unsolicited advice to family and friends at home and elsewhere; If a professional Mixed Martial Artist doesn’t engage in a transition Ritual before leaving the gym, he may bring his warrior energy and gladiatorial spirit to the outside world and energetically intimidate people and push them away.
Alas, if only the aforementioned professionals incorporated transition rituals into their lives!! They would be able to then to switch gears, change states, and welcome in parts of their personalities that would enable them to show up in their relationships, sports, and lives in ways that would better support their deepest needs and wants. The beautiful thing about Transition rituals is that they are often easy, effortless, and enjoyable. Transition rituals include carving out time before or after work to do yoga, take the dog for a walk, read the Bible, go for a run, and engage in diaphragmatic breathing exercises; People can also choose instead to listen to calming or energizing music, listen to hypnosis CD’s, engage in progressive muscle relaxation exercises, take a soothing walk on the beach, meditate, engage in mindfulness exercises, and/or engage in visualization exercises; Sometimes transition rituals include taking a warm, bubble bath, getting a massage, or calling a really good friend on your way home from work for some laughs.
I always encourage my clients to come up with and routinely engage in transition rituals that they resonate with the most. In addition, I remind them to engage in their transition ritual with intention and purpose. As for me, I currently engage in many transition rituals that help me a lot both personally and professionally. In my co-ed Personal Growth Group, for example, I use a Tibetan singing bowl at the beginning and end of each group therapy session to create a calming sound that is intended to signal to the group members that they have now entered into a sacred space, or sanctuary, within my office that is separate and apart from the noisy outside world they’ve just left behind. In my Men’s group, I burn sage 10 minutes prior to the beginning of each group session, and I ask them to participate in a smudging ritual that is intended to cleanse them of any thoughts or feelings that would otherwise make it difficult for them to be fully present during our time together; Because our minds use and respond to symbolism, the men in our group find this transition ritual to be very effective in helping them to be fully present and in touch with their hearts.
If you find yourself living unconsciously from moment to moment and day to day, then I’d like to strongly encourage you to partake in a transition ritual(s) that will help you to switch gears, access different states, and summon the parts of your personality that will serve you best in the countless realms of your life; Do so with intention and a clear sense of purpose, and do so routinely so that you can show up consistently in your relationships, sports, and life in ways that will serve your highest good and help you achieve your desired outcomes. As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Sports Performance Consultant, I would also like you to kindly note that I would be very happy to sit down with you in person to co-create a transition ritual(s) that you can incorporate into your daily life for the purpose of dramatically improving it!!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!! I sincerely hope that you found it be interesting and informative.
John Boesky, LMFT/Sports Performance Consultant