Repetition can be soothing and relaxing. It establishes patterns of behaviour that provide an illusion of control in a chaotic world. We incorporate repetitive behaviour into our daily lives to establish routines that enable us carry out every day activities in an efficient and organised way with minimal thought and effort. These routines help provide structure in our lives.
Some routines become so familiar they turn into habits, encoded into our brains to such an extent that our consciousness is engaged only at the start and the end of an activity. Catching the same train to work every day our thoughts are often otherwise occupied: we can get off the train automatically at our destination with little or no recollection of the actual journey.
Rituals differ from routines because of the meanings we associate with them. Rituals are integral to every culture. Shared rituals bind people together in a meaningful experience, synchronising beliefs and practices: they are a way of bonding socially and can be used to define and unify a group, a religion, a sports club, a group of friends; distinguishing members of that group from others.
Families have their own rituals; the way special events are celebrated; behaviours at shared meals, or bed time stories for a child.These express and reinforce feelings of closeness and security and a sense of belonging. Family rituals may be passed down from generation to generation or families may create new ones that have a special meaning for them. Rituals are also particularly important in establishing, maintaining and reinforcing the relationship between couples. Even individuals develop rituals, a long relaxing bath by candlelight at the end of the week for example.
The problem is that over time rituals may become routines, performed with little thought for the underlying meaning; prayers repeated by rote, greetings or expressions of gratitude with no real intent. There may still something comforting and soothing in the repetition, but they are far less effective in the bonding process. When rituals between two people become routines, when the meaning is lost, the sense of closeness and intimacy is diminished, and it can be important to change rituals or introduce new ones before routine further declines into mere habit.
The rituals of an intimate sexual relationship tend to be of a more private nature than other rituals, and therefore not easily transferred from parent to child or learned through observation of others. Some people therefore look to the rituals of tantric sex to enhance their relationship, particularly those who are also on a quest for spirituality. But it isn’t necessary to adopt all the rituals to benefit from a tantric session, even a few may prove useful; either as they are taught or adapted to suit a particular couple. For example some may not adopt the concept of a tantra goddess and incorporation of the divine, but find synchronised breathing worth exploring. At the very least it should reinforce the importance of rituals in a relationship.