Rituals Solidify a Group

A great way of forging bonds within a women’s group is to create group rituals. These rituals are reminiscent of the “secret society” rituals we all participated in as young girls, and they make group members feel like part of something special. When we all participate in a group ritual, we feel a greater connection with the other participants, especially if the ritual is something meaningful for us. And it’s something that is unique to our group and only we experience it together.

Ambience Rituals
Creating the right ambience for your meeting sets the tone. It’s easiest to do this if the meeting is being hosted in someone’s home. For a sense of calm and serenity, you can set the mood with soft lighting, candles and incense or oils. Background music may add a nice touch.

Check to see if any member is allergic to incense or candles. If they aren’t, you might want to select a “group scent” by lighting a specific scented candle for each meeting. In fact, you may even wish to buy one of the large scented candles and light that same one at each meeting. If the meeting is held in rotating homes, each host can keep the candle at their house and pass it to the next host as part of the Closing Rituals.

Circle Around
Select a physical space that will allow you to create a circle of just the right size to include everyone attending. Not too big — we want our group to be focused and intimate. And not too small – leave enough room for comfort as you’re going to be there for awhile. No crowding in 5 people on one couch!

Opening Rituals
An opening ritual is a great way to start the formal portion of your meeting. As each member arrives, they will probably exchange pleasantries. Ask everyone to wait until all are present before exchanging news. Once everyone has settled in, give everyone a chance to update the others on their personal news.

Once we’ve all had a chance to say hello and speak briefly, you might want to conduct a short group meditation. This is a wonderful way for everyone to quiet their minds before focusing on the topic of the meeting. Meditating together in a group will also strengthen the members’ bonds with each other.

Pass the Baton
It is essential to take turns in a group. Many times one member will be talking and others may interrupt without warning. This can be disruptive to both the person who was speaking and to the group in general. So we recommend creating a symbol that indicates whose turn it is to speak. You might use a baton, a paperweight in the shape of a pot for a cooking club, a badge in the shape of a book for a book club, a pillow, a statue, etc. You get the point. Choose a meaningful symbol that members will pass to each other to indicate who has the floor. And make sure everyone adheres to this rule so each person can have their turn to speak freely.

Closing Rituals
Don’t neglect the closing rituals. They not only bring closure to your meeting, but allow you to set up for what’s coming up next.

Some groups keep a notebook recording “minutes”, but it doesn’t have to be that formal. Simply enter some wrap up comments, jot down a few bullet points and record the activities of the meeting. Members can take turns doing this so everyone gets a chance to participate.

Make a date for the next meeting, settle on a location and make sure to remind members to make a note of it. Yes, write it down right then and there!

Thank everyone for a great meeting and pass the candle or incense to the next host.

Always make sure to end the meeting on a high note – say things in a positive manner to ensure that everyone retains a happy memory of the meeting.

Karen & Pat
maximize the value of the women in your life

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See ”Self-Help Group for Women” post

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