5 Minute Book Review: The Power of Ritual

On “sacredness” and how to cultivate it in our everyday lives.

Taylor Harrington
Groove With Us
6 min readJul 1, 2022


What am I reading this month?

In The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices, Casper ter Kuile explores how communal rituals used to be more common in society, how they have surfaced in some unpredictable places, and offers some actionable ideas for how to establish new rituals. He writes: “The purpose of this book is to show you how you can transform your daily habits into practices that create a sacred foundation for your life.”

PS: If you’re into podcasts, he hosts two of them. The Real Question is the one I’ve recently fallen in love with.

What I’ve learned from “The Power of Ritual”

1. Community care is essential for our well-being

I’m a big fan of bringing people together and creating a more connected world, hence why I build community for a living. This passion doesn’t just stem from a deep love for connecting with people, there’s actually research to back up that the world is more disconnected than ever and it’s profoundly affecting people’s health. Casper agrees!

He writes, “Social isolation is more harmful to our health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day…There are perhaps no other facets that can have such a large impact on both length and quality of life as social connection.”

Now, this is my favorite part, “While our culture often lifts up the importance of self-care, we’re desperately in need of community care.” I’m clapping from my desk, thank you, Casper. “Without it, the impact of social isolation shows up in numerous ways. It is harder to find work, we fall out of healthy habits, and in heatwaves or superstorms, we’re more likely to be forgotten by neighbors and perish.”

Community care is vital for our well-being. I was talking to a Groover the other day who was a bit out of their normal rhythms of working. They had some travel time off work, so they hadn’t been Grooving in the last 10 days; for context, in a typical week, they might Groove 15+ times. And, they said to me, “I started to feel really disconnected and lonely. And, I knew Groove was the solution to get me out of that funk.” They needed some community care after all that self-care on vacation they had!

2. Sacredness is in the doing

Sacred is a word that comes up pretty often within the Groove team. It’s a word Josh, our CEO & Co-founder uses often to describe the magic of a 50-minute Groove session. “It’s a sacred time,” he says regularly. I’ve interpreted Josh’s use of the word as it’s a dedicated, focus session, uninterrupted, all about you making progress, growing, and getting farther along in your journey.

Casper uses this word often throughout the book and challenges how it’s used regularly.

“In everyday language, we think of sacred as an adjective, as a synonym for holy or blessed. It describes something static maybe a little dusty, outside our day-to-day experience, but it is much better understood as a verb. something that we do. the word sacred itself comes from the Latin word “sacrare*”** which means to consecrate or dedicate. And, to consecrate means to declare or make something holy. So the sacredness is in the doing. That means we have enormous agency to make sacred happen ourselves.*

Now, I love the word “sacred” even more! Groove is a time for doing. The last line is the most powerful of all though; we’re in control of making sacred happen.

3. Everyone seeks and creates sacredness differently

For some people, “community care” is even more important for their well-being than others. Personally, I love connecting with people. Friends, strangers, family, acquaintances, I love it all. And, I need it on a daily basis to feel myself. I laughed as Casper unpacked the differences in how he and his husband, Sean, see this.

“I connect most with the sacredness of life when I’m engaging with other people […] I love to sing, to play board games, and to eat with others. My husband, Sean, in contrast, will look at my weekly calendar and will break out in hives because of the number of calls, meetings, and meals I’ve scheduled. His way of connecting is being in the natural world or spending quality time on his own.

I literally laughed at this. My boyfriend is just like Sean in this respect, and I’m just like Casper! You should see my color-coded Google calendar. I’m that friend who says, “Want to come over for a board game night in 4 weeks from now?” and immediately sends a Google calendar invite after they say “yes”.

Inside communities that gather regularly, it’s interesting to observe how these differences in how humans “connect most with the sacredness of life” as Casper frames it. In Groove, I would argue that our most active community members’ preferences are across the spectrum, despite that we all come together for community support on the Groove app. We did some research a few months back and found that when asked whether folks identified as an extrovert or introvert on a sliding scale, the average was right in the middle. Some people come to Groove to get sh*t done so that they have time for their sacred outdoor time later, as Sean seeks out, while others come to Groove specifically for the engagement and social connection, the experience that sacredness inside in the app.

What *really* is a ritual?

The book is called The Power of Ritual, so of course, Casper unpacks what actually qualifies as a ritual. He shares the wisdom of Kathleen McTigue, “who looks for three things in any practice or ritual: intention, attention, and repetition.” He argues, that if you take the dog out for a walk numerous times per day and are busy on the phone while you do so, it’s not a ritual. It’s repetitive, but you’re not paying attention to your pup and the walk, so it’s simply a habit. Anything can become a spiritual practice, gardening, snuggling, painting, sitting, but only if it meets the three requirements:

  • Intention: Recognizing what are we inviting into this moment
  • Attention: Being present in this moment
  • Repetition: Making space to come back to this time and time again

We’ll try a bunch of rituals in life that don’t stick and that’s alright. Casper notes, “if some time goes by and one or two start to really feel like your practices, that’s when you know you have a winner.”

One last quote that I loved from Casper:

“Deep connection isn’t just about relationships with other people. It’s about feeling the fullness of being alive. It’s about being enveloped in multiple layers of belonging within, between, and around us.”

This book was one of my favorites in a while. While I read it with my community leader cap on, I learned a lot about myself as a human. If you’re curious to hear more about the history of how rituals began (like religious celebrations) and new ways people are finding rituals (like in community-focused gyms), this is worth checking out. If you do read it, let me know what your sacred text is. Mine’s the late Marina Keegan’s commencement speech on the opposite of loneliness.

Looking for more Groovy content? Check these out:

  1. The Highs and Lows of Remote Work
  2. The Future of Work (as we see it)
  3. Start getting sh*t done the fun way at ➡️ Groove.ooo



Taylor Harrington
Groove With Us

Head of Community @ Groove 💃🏼🕺🏼 Love bringing people together ✨ Curious about the future of work, community, & online learning 🤔 Board game player + reader