A friend once commented to me that indigenous people may spend about one third of their waking activity in some form of ceremony or celebration. The ceremony may be song or dance, passing on of lore, rituals, feasts and so on. My friend’s comment struck a cord with me and brought to mind how important it is, how fundamentally, ceremony and celebration belong to human culture. Our life becomes richer when we make acknowledgement of who we are and the world around us. Whether we are celebrating a friend’s birthday, attending a religious or spiritual festival, attending a marriage ceremony, or anniversary, a funeral, having a dinner party, and the myriad of ways we may celebrate, we are giving acknowledgement, reflecting, showing gratitude.
As a practicing psychologist I have attended many workshops over the years. Some of the more notable events have been when people have told their biographies. In fact for many years we ran biography workshops in our practice. Telling your biography can be very challenging for some people. But when the listener is empathic, interested and engaged the biography becomes an enlightening, deepening and enriching experience for both the listener and the teller. Everyone has a life story. Setting aside time to reflect, put together and tell your life story shows so much of what has influenced and formed us in our development.
In the Couplet Program we ask each of the partners to tell some of their life story. If we do this well we can hear what has helped and challenged the person in their development, how beliefs have been formed and character developed. We get to hear more fully who our partner is. Acknowledging the life story is like an informal ritual. In fact we do this naturally at important stages in life: perhaps at a birthday party, certainly at a wedding, and at a funeral. Waking up to, respecting, honouring who that person is, and what we value in them and in turn in our relationship with them.