• Lana Jelenjev

WHAT ARE OUR STORIES?


Why are rituals important for you?


Lana: When I think of rituals I am reminded of my Catholic-Filipina upbringing and the wealth of rituals in our culture. As a child and a young adult, I took that for granted. It was only when I moved out of the country that I got reconnected to the need of rituals. I do find it somewhat sad that it was only in my 30s that I learned to appreciate rituals in my life. It started with a desire to incorporate my cultural heritage and my husband’s culture and what rituals we would like to practice in our family.


Rituals connect me to my heritage and the practices that we would love to take in, drop or expand more in our lives.


Nynke: I always find it a bit hard to put the meaning of rituals into words. They are experiences, and they are not always verbal experiences. Rituals help me to create pathways to different stages and phases in life. It can be a daily ritual to help my kid to cross the bridge from day to night so he can fall asleep, or a big life transition. By making moments of change precious, meaningful and physical for myself and for others, I can shift from one phase to the other, not only with my mind, but with all of my being. Rituals bring me connection to myself, others and the world around me. They ground me, and make me feel at home in this world.



Viktor: Rituals help me feel connected to the people and ideas that I hold close to heart. By implementing rituals in my life, I show up better in my relationships, support my sense of integrity and simply feel more alive. I have also created many rituals that serve as 'no turning back' moments in my life. Ritualising such moments have made it possible for me to willfully take the step into uncertainty and bring all myself along over the thresholds that invariably show up in life. Which I think is super helpful for feeling present in the now, as less of me gets stuck in the past that way.





What is your best experience doing a community ritual?


Lana: thinking about this question made me smile. Mainly because I got connected to a memory of me as a child and part of Girl Scouts of the Philippines. I was very active as a Girl Scout and the campings were filled with rituals from how we started till how we ended the camping experience. I remember how much I like the early morning rituals to get into the day. I have always been a morning person and enjoy the smell and freshness of the morning dew. I also loved the sitting around the fire and that was my first experience of being in a circle.


Nynke: When I was younger I led a big group of teenagers. Every year we would go on a three-day camping trip. I think my love for rituals started there. Every year we had to welcome a group of new younger kids and it was always a challenge to make the group feel as one. At night we would make a campfire, and tell the story of the intention, rules of engagement and history of the group. After that, we let the new kids jump

(safely) over the fire with the rest receiving them on the other side with a loud applause. In that hour we would set the foundation for the whole year. And everything was crystal clear from that moment onwards; they were one group and they would respect and look after each other. It was like magic, every time we did it, it worked!


Viktor: At the moment I am finding sanctuary in the shared stillness of the ZenLab community here in Leipzig where I’m based. In the turmoil of this year, it has become immensely important for me to sit down in a shared practice that reaches beyond the abundance of dramas that so generously has become available to us. Coming to mind is this precious sequence of events: Slowly arriving at the pillow, bowing to it and feeling connected with the many others who over thousands of years have felt the same gratitude for a place of practice, turning around, facing our space and our group that enables this particular moment, feeling humbled to be part of it, bowing to this container, turning around once more, taking a seat, finding a position that can hold me and bowing to the stillness that is about to unfold.


What community rituals would you love to create?



Lana: I would love to create rituals that are based on the peaks, pits and transitions within communities. I have energy to create rituals for these powerful moments including the onboarding and offboarding periods.


One crucial topic that I would also like to explore deeper are rituals for healing and renewal. Having Viktor and Nynke to work with me on this gives me so much excitement and hope that we can bring rituals back at the forefront of communities.


Nynke: There’s so much brewing inside of me! Onboarding rituals, celebrations, shifting leadership, rituals for sharing grief and loss, just to name a few. I love to get creative. This project combines my passion for connecting people with my passion for ritual. And with these two people by my side, the possibilities are endless :-)


Viktor: I am very keen on exploring the culture creating part of ritual. In my own practice as a ritual designer, I have mostly focused on designing rituals for big, transformative moments and have given less attention to the low intensity, high frequency ground work. This is something I want to become better at and I am already exploring it in my own communities - and I see that there is a lot I can learn from Lana and Nynke on this topic.



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