Ritual as a Daily Practice

A ritual is ceremony in which actions are performed in a specific order in order to achieve a goal. Ritual is also the space from which Shaman’s cure disease and through which many major rites of humans are experienced. It is this regularity and order that creates room for the sacred to emerge. Ritual as both a ceremony and a daily practice is a creative act, which when done with intention and awareness of the present moment is an opportunity to connect deeply with spirit. When you transform your day into a series a rituals that you complete, each with the intention of bringing you closer to spirit, your daily life will transform.

The Power of Ritual
Spiritual rituals help to strengthen and support your soul and to clear and open your mind to higher guidance. The aim of spiritual rituals is to bring your body and mind into a deeper connection with your spirit every moment of every day. Just as regular practice of physical activities can strengthen your body, regular connection to your spirit through daily rituals can give you spiritual strength. The more time you spend interacting with your spirit, the stronger your relationship with your highest self will be.

Bringing an awareness of spirit into every aspect of your day through ritual leaves you more relaxed, grounded, spiritually connected, nourished, and purpose-driven. Rituals help bring greater mental clarity, physical awareness and emotional stability.

Aligning Rituals with the Divine
Think of every regular daily experience as an opportunity to create a ritual. You can create a ritual for cleaning, a ritual for writing, a ritual for bathing, a ritual for eating. If you spend some time to create a small altar for each ritual you want to begin, you can use this altar as the focal point when you begin your ritual. For a ritual to be in alignment with the divine, three qualities are necessary:

1.Right-Intention – The beginning of your ritual is the most important time to focus your mind upon your desire and to commit to mental and ethical self-improvement. Think about what objective you wish to achieve with the ritual and create an intention that supports that objective. For my kitchen ritual, my intention is that I be a blessing to my home, and that my thoughts words and actions reflect that. Each time I light my candle, I set the intention with a short prayer that I will be a blessing to my home as I work in the kitchen.

2. Right-Effort – As you move through your ritual, keep the bigger picture in mind. Try to do your very best and when you make a mistake or reach a roadblock, which you inevitably will, let these slow you down and step more deeply into the moment, letting go and opening to divine intervention. If any thoughts enter your mind that are not aligned with your intention, quietly dismiss them, and refocus your efforts on your intention.

3. Right-Concentration – You also need a clear tangible objective for your ritual time. Choose a specific task to work on and a specific time that you have to complete that task. For example when I am in my kitchen, I usually begin my ritual when I have a specific task ahead of me that will take some time. I also might begin my ritual at the beginning of cleaning the entire kitchen. In this case, I will work for an hour and clean as much as I can during that time. Keeping all of your attention on one objective or task at a time helps you to develop inner peace, insight and serenity of mind.

These guidelines are inspired by Buddha’s Noble EightFold Path. By creating a simple altar, for each ritual, you can bring more depth, meaning and a greater sense of overall wellbeing to your life.

The practice of meditation is a practice of clearing your mind in order to bring greater focus to your body, your thoughts and your emotions. Meditation is a mental practice that you can begin practicing in short periods of time throughout your day. Meditation provides time to disconnect from your personal life and creates space to reflect on deeper parts of yourself. Meditation is grounded in the belief that the essence of yourself can be understood from within. The ultimate goal of meditation is to know your spirit as it manifests within you.

Although there are many different types of meditation, I have found that the meditation practice that has been the easiest to integrate into my life has been the practice of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a practice of bringing your full awareness to every moment of your day. You can begin simply by bringing your complete attention to your everyday tasks like brushing your teeth or driving to work. The practice is to simply observe your thoughts and emotions without getting carried away by them. As you practice witnessing yourself, you can begin to detach from the unconscious aspects of your personality as you bring them into full awareness.

I began creating rituals when I first started working from home in 2005, at about the same time that I began studying mindfulness meditation. I was practicing mindful meditation each time I walked to the bathroom throughout the day. I would clear my mind before I began my walk and then with attention to my breath and to each step, I would mindfully walk to the bathroom and go through the process on the toilet with a blank mind. This was so transformative for me because it opened me up to how my everyday actions could be transformed through mindful attention.

The best thing about mindfulness meditation is that you can practice it within your existing daily routines without allocating any additional time to it. Choose one or two routines every day to begin practicing mindfulness meditation with. A daily practice will open your mind to this type of meditation and will bring greater clarity to whatever you are doing.

Meditation can prepare you for your ritual, and can give you greater insight and peace during your daily ritual practice. You can create the intention to meditate mindfully while you are moving through your ritual. In this way, you allow yourself to let go of any doubts, worries or concerns about other things. You allow yourself to fall completely into the ritual mindfully. This is a key to transformative ritual work 🙂

Prayer helps form and strengthen a connection to your spirit. Your ritual can include meaningful religious prayer or personal prayer. Religious prayer is a formal prayer that is meant to be repeated. Personal prayer is informal and involves a conversation with your spirit. If you don’t have a formal or personal prayer practice, it is easiest to start by finding a prayer that you like, and dedicate a time daily to reading it as you open your heart to the infinite creator of our universe…

Fasting is an ancient spiritual practice rooted in the belief in self-discipline and meaningful sacrifice. Christians believe that during fasting, less time is focused on the preparation and consumption of food. This allows for a period of time to pray and develop a closer relationship with your spirit. A food fast gives your body’s organs a chance to rest. A media fast includes abstaining from news media, entertainment, information, shopping, email and the Internet. Both types of fasts gives you an opportunity to disengage from the outside world and move into deeper union with your spirit. Before your ritual try to spend time practicing short fasts of media or food. This is because it is best to begin a ritual with a clear mind and body.

For a long time, before I began working with clients doing energy healing work, before I began my first ritual of healing, I would eat a large quantity of food, generally breads and fruit. It became almost a ritual for me to eat before my healings, I had this overwhelming sensation come over me and I would have to eat something, a substantial amount of something, before I began. As I spent time with this craving and questioned it with an open and curious mind, I realized that I was not grounded enough to deliver my healing to my clients. The foods I was eating were helping me to work with the divine light and spiritual realms, but not helping me to bring this healing to others. Slowly and over time, I changed my diet to include more grounding foods like beans and grains. I also now feed myself regularly and plentifully throughout the day, so that I no longer get the craving to eat before I work with a client. Fasting can help you tune into your body more, and your body is your greatest teacher, it will tell you everything you need for this journey. Your body and your mind’s greatest wisdom lies deep within, and fasting quiets everything to help you to listen 🙂

Listening to Devotional Music
Many religions use devotional music to heighten feelings of connection to their spirit. In Hinduism, music is a crucial element of the spiritual quest and liturgical ritual. In indigenous South Asian cultures, the world for music, “samgita,” described a ritualistic experience that included vocal song, instrumental music, dance, performance and dramatic reenactments. New Age music, Christian music, gospel music, Gregorian chanting and Kirtan are all examples of modern devotional music. You can begin any regular daily ritual with devotional music.

Bringing It All Into Practice
With any spiritual ritual you are beginning the intention is to create something that you can do easily everyday. Begin with one routine that you want to practice daily as a ritual. I recommend you first read my article on Invoking Compassion and Self-Love through Bodhisattva Kuan Yin: An Altar Ritual. This will give you a much more detailed overview of the ritual process and a prayer that I LOVE to begin several other rituals.

Two Simple Daily Rituals for Work
Ritual for Communicating With Others
Ritual Items: A purifying candle, a quartz crystal point, green tea, devotional music and clary sage essential oil.
Ritual Process: Begin with a moment of silence and a prayer. Light your candle, hold the quartz crystal, play devotional music, apply the clary sage essential oil to your wrists and behind your ears.

Bring your attention to your heart center. See or feel a set of french doors over your heart center. Feel your heart opening. Set the intention to communicate from your heart center. Begin your communication. Put 100% attention into the person or people you are communicating with and watch emotions and thoughts letting everything go that does not serve the purpose of communicating with transcendent love and compassion. Mindfully drink your tea. Stay centered in your process and keep your mind aware as a witness, keep your focus in the present moment. Close the ritual mindfully the same way you began it, with a moment of silence and a prayer.

Ritual for Writing
Ritual Items: A small altar to help connect to your creative muse. Construct your altar in the area that you normally write. Mine includes a statue of Maat, a purifying candle, a selenite and tibetan quartz crystal, clary sage essential oil and my animal medicine cards and tarot cards.

Ritual Process: Begin with a moment of silence and a prayer. Light your candle and set the intention that the highest good flow through your writing.

Visualize a golden orb of light surrounding you at your work station. Anytime you feel stuck or sense resistance to work, pick up your crystal, inhale clary sage essential oil deeply, and breathe deeply. Turn to a stack of your favorite tarot card deck and ask for guidance. As you write keep your crystal in your hand or on your lap. It draws impurities out of your body and cleanses your energetic field as well as your body on a cellular level. Crystals are powerful to tools also to work with if you type on a laptop or a computer to help ward off the effects of electromagnetic stress on your body. Close the ritual mindfully the same way you began it, with a moment of silence and a prayer.

Ritual as a Creative Vessel
For me, creating a ritual is an inherently creative process, it is about creating and sustaining a divine creative flow in my life. Osho has a beautiful book on bringing divine creativity into every aspect of your life where he discusses at length what it looks like to be in a divine creative flow at every minute. When he speaks of creativity, he means spirituality, to Osho the essence of creating is bring one with spirit 🙂

Anything can be creative – you bring that quality to the activity. Activity itself is neither creative nor uncreative. You can paint in an uncreative way. You can sing in an uncreative way. You can clean the floor in a creative way. You can cook in a creative way.

Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach –how you look at things. You become more divine as you become more creative. All the religions of the world have said: God is the Creator. One thing I know is the more creative you become, the more godly you become.When your creativity comes to a climax, when your whole life becomes creative, you live in God… Love what you do. Be meditative while you are doing it – whatsoever it is!Have you seen Paras cleaning this floor of Chuang Tzu auditorium? Then you will know: cleaning can become creative. With what love! Almost singing and dancing inside. If you clean the floor with such love, you have done an invisible painting. You lived that moment in such delight that it has given you some inner growth. You cannot be the same after a creative act. Creativity means loving whatsoever you do – enjoying, celebrating it, as a gift of existence! Maybe nobody comes to know about it. Who is going to praise Paras for cleaning this floor? History will not take any account of it; newspapers will not publish her name and pictures – but that is irrelevant. She enjoyed it. The value is intrinsic.”

Osho in Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within

For me, the practice of rituals have become essential to my wellbeing and to my success in life. I find more meaning in my daily routines when they are done in the spirit of ritual and I am always left with the feeling of being surrounded by God’s grace.