What is a ritual?

Rituals That Slow Time


At its heart, WA:IT is built around the idea of ritual. Not necessarily the spiritual sort, but a much broader idea of ritual, one that founder Raffaella Grisa defines in her own philosophy as any act done with awareness, care, and attention.


“If you are aware of what you are doing, that’s a ritual. And that’s the most important teaching I got from Japanese culture … If you are able to be present here and now, if you love something, and don’t just go through the mechanical gestures [of doing it], everything can be transformed into a ritual,” she says. In other words, talking to the plants while watering them every day, reading a book while sipping a cup of tea, are all rituals.


In the rush of our modern lives, particularly in Western culture, we tend to do a thing, while often only “thinking of the next step,” says Raffaella. Almost like looking over someone’s shoulder while talking to them at a party, to see who else we want to speak to, rather than giving that person our full attention.


One problem with this “next step” perspective, is that the very act we’re engaged in at that moment, loses its meaningfulness.


A New Perception of Time: Stillness and Awareness


Not only that, but when we are constantly preoccupied with the next step, rather than the one we’re living, we tend to feel we have less, or no time to complete those steps. This can create a kind of vicious cycle, where focusing on, or worrying about our lack of time, paradoxically results in us having less of it.


Raffaella, who herself used to suffer from constantly feeling rushed and stressed about fitting everything into her busy schedule, explains: “The problem of time is a problem in the Western world. We (in the West) actually do have time to do everything, but we think we have no time at all,” she says. Today, Raffaella lives with a different approach, one that is intimately connected to the awareness that comes with performing rituals — in their broadest sense — where time is also seen in terms of the quality of how it is used, rather than merely the linear number of minutes it adds up to, or takes from us.


“When I started talking of beauty rituals to my friends they first said: Interesting but I have no time for doing rituals. Time, always time. A ritual could last a few moments when you are connected with yourself, just breathing for example,” adds Raffaella. “We think about time only as a linear, quantitative entity. Of course it is. You can measure time, but we are much more concerned with the time passing by, than living the moment … If we could reach the awareness of the moment, we discover a new perception of time. It seems like a paradox, because the day still has 24 hours.

I was always in a hurry, I took care of everyone except myself, and I was always thinking ahead — next step. As soon as I switched on myself, my inner-self, and I gained awareness towards myself, I discovered that time had a completely new dimension, not just a quantitative dimension but a qualitative dimension. 5 minutes are still 5 times 60 seconds, but if you are present here and now, 5 minutes seems to last longer. The quality is greater, and everyone can feel it. You transmit a stronger energetic aura to people around you.”


Uplifting words to hear, particularly as the pandemic shifts how people use and think of their time. Raffaella notes that, “one of the positive things left by this pandemic will be the self-awareness … [some] can use this frozen time to look inside ourselves … We are discovering a new dimension of time: stillness and awareness.”