What are your rituals? Those activities that are repeated in your life regularly? Going to the gym, ruminating on how others have wronged you in the past, eating snacks, walking your dog, writing in your journal about what you appreciate (or detest), praying to a Higher Power or earthly idol, meditating on a mantra, focusing on the present moment?
What do you think or do faithfully, religiously, routinely?
What are your conflict rituals? Is the way you handle conflict in a rut, or in renewal as time passes? How often do you stop to attend to conflict with respect, honoring the root of the word re-spect that reminds us to re-look, look again?
When you are involved in conflict, what do you meditate on? Pray to? Focus on?
The rituals you have incorporated into your life change your brain. Many times at my blogs (here and Idealawg) we have looked at the brain's plasticity; the fact that rituals change your brain is no surprise. We also know that the older the ritual, the more it has changed our brain, and the more our brain will ask us to stick with the ritual. Since old rituals are sticky, are yours the ones you have chosen? The ones you want to keep? If not, you can change them, as sticky as they are; plasticity maintains old rituals but also helps us to change them and to create new ones.
Listening at On Being to approximately 2 minutes of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks precipitated the above thoughts. (Even if you are an atheist, you may appreciate a listen.) He talks about the plasticity of the brain, seems in awe of it, and thinks the spirituality of plasticity is "beyond belief." Rabbi Sacks says that plasticity leads us to a whole new study of the role of ritual, because we now know that deep practice reconfigures the brain. For example, he says that if you pray everyday, eventually you will develop attributes such as gratitude.
Rabbi Sacks thinks that ritual is a way of changing us using plasticity, a way that God "wrote into the script."
After listening to the audio of Sacks a couple of times, I began to mentally tally and then write down my rituals. They are more numerous than I would have guessed before I began my inventory! In doing this writing, I realized that I want to keep some of my regular reruns; others need a new script.