There was a time in my life when I discredited ritual as a way to rebel against my church upbringing in which I found everything to be so hypocritical. I somehow embraced that rejection despite the recognition of beauty and meaning through the music, the environment of colorful stained glass and high ceilings, and the incense wafting through the room. I was drawn to those sacred elements meant to enhance my relationship with the divine and spiritual. I was moved to tears often because of the combined elements; the synchronization of senses, heart and mind though I would not understand that was the reason until much later.
All I knew is that I was moved and connected and that it was an emotionally charged event.
I rebelled against my associations with false pretense and all show. There seemed to be nothing behind the smoke and mirrors as far as the people were concerned. But who am I to judge. There were probably many who felt their devotion and connection with God. I sensed the surface “pretend” spirituality that relieved people’s guilt and gave them excuses to continue their unconscious behavior without making sincere efforts. As I grew spiritually, finding my way to the practices of Zen Buddhism early on in my search, I realized it was steeped in ritual. Again chanting, bells, bowing, swaying and more.
My eyes began to be opened to what is created through intentional ritual.
We cannot live without rituals. They represent our devotion and caring to an event. They come in so many forms from rites of passage, sacred union, birth and healing to spiritual awakening. It is the form that holds the meaning. It holds meaning through the care we give to the ritual, but is also enhanced by the mix of participants. I was inspired to write about this because I recently experienced a beautiful ritual created by Dana Smith, owner of Guiding Star Healing Arts and Michele Trump, owner of Vital Roots Holistic Health. Both healers came together at Seattle Yoga Arts to create a combined Yoga Reiki evening for a limited number of participants. It was truly more than what your mind may be conjuring if you have done yoga or have had a reiki session .
This was an intentional ritual for the purpose of release.
The moment I walked in the room I could feel something sacred and very much outside of ordinary life. That welcomed me to surrender to a feeling of peace and relief. It felt safe not only because of the beautiful lights and candles or the warm sienna tones of the walls, but because there was an intentional energetic container put in place. I could not help but give way to that subtle holding energy. After speaking our individual intentions and a short centering meditation, these teachers introduced the idea of Dadirri, an aboriginal concept of deep inner stillness and expanded awareness of the connection of all things especially through nature. It is often called deep listening and beckons us to remain poised between the inner and the outer, waiting… It reminded me of the zen practice of effort, no effort. We must strive to maintain a stillness and yet sway and bend to the influences around and within us. The yoga aspect was similar to what I used to experience in my early days with my teacher Raymond who would require us to hold an asana for quite a long time. This enabled us to experience the expansion of our body, heart and mind together. The yoga I experience in most places now is a driven, micromanaged, in your face, talk all the way through yoga and a far cry from the experience of release as one strikes the balance of holding and letting go through inner struggle to release driven from deep within. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we held the asanas as each healer came to each person for their reiki touch. Not only was this going on but there was also the use of the four elements in related to the poses. It was not just a visualization but an aim to embody that element.
The progression of earth to water to fire to air and back to earth brought us through the portal of dadirri.
The added aspect of Reiki with yoga and dadirri stillness-listening allowed me to surrender and be held. Both women offered the expert hands of healing that touched me on multiple layers. I felt taken care of in a way I cannot explain. We ended with a small sharing with the person next to us. We articulated things that stood out for us and then we shared our take aways with the whole group, giving us a chance to bond even if for this one brief ritual. It felt freeing to speak of the experience and I am often surprised by what comes out of my mouth. I had the distinct impression that participants knew they were part of a whole; that it took all of us to make the experience complete as if we were the ones who enjoyed a beautiful meal prepared by these warriors of love.
The facilitators had a picture in mind, a mood, and a container with an intention to help us. It was a luscious experience for all.
I was reminded that ritual truly enhances our healing if we let it.
Thank you Michele and Dana for this gift!
Let me know about rituals that have changed your life.