Creating sacred ritual is a human activity that is centuries old, but in our modern culture it’s not as visible as it used to be. In an increasingly chaotic world, have we as a human race lost touch with sacred ritual?
Not according to a Google search I did recently. Putting in the words “sacred ritual” generated 40,000,000 results. Out of curiosity I jumped to page 10, page 14, page 26, page 30.
What were all these people talking about?
As I read and researched, I found common threads.
The first thing I noticed was a longing for something more.
Why Do We Have a Longing for Sacred Ritual?
It’s a way to feel part of all life. Humans use ritual to mark significant moments, find deeper meaning in life changing events, sense a connection with a greater Presence or Spirit.
We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping.
– Elizabeth Gilbert
Our lives are filled with ritual but often they are mundane and somewhat mindless so we don’t notice them. A morning brewing of coffee, or a birthday celebration of cake and presents, or the habit of checking email just before going to sleep are things we do without attaching any particular meaning to them.
Here’s what’s surprising.
A mundane mindless habit can become a sacred ritual. What causes such a transformation?
- Taking time
- Mindfulness and focus
- Repetition with devotion
- Appreciation and gratitude
- Connecting to a spiritual presence
- Inviting a deeper level of consciousness
- Creating your own unique expression of the ritual
So it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.
When you create and practice your own sacred ritual, not doing it is the canary in the mine. It’s a warning that something is not right in your life. Returning to your practice will help you discover what that is.
Start with these five suggestions and create your unique sacred ritual.
1. Creating a Space
Find somewhere in your home to create a sacred space. It could be a corner of a room or even a small table. The size and location are not as important as what it means to you and how you set it up.
Add items such as flowers and plants, special objects, photos, keepsakes, candles, a special scarf – whatever is artistically pleasing to you.
Establish an agreement with anyone else in your household that it’s your space and therefore off limits. If necessary, it could be a box you can lock. Taking the things out and putting them away can be part of the ritual.
Take care of the space. Keep it neat and tidy and dust free.
Maintaining it with love and attention is part of the sacredness of the ritual.
No list of sacred ritual would be complete without meditation.
Meditation can be sitting in silence, listening to guided meditation, listening to music only, or a combination of all of those.
Each form of meditation is unique but all forms have as their purpose achieving a state of profound, inner peace. During meditation, the brain frequencies alter and the mind is calm yet completely alert.
Some meditation programs add binaural beats that can help the brain move to a calmer state more quickly.
What are they?
Here’s a simple explanation: binaural beats are two different pitches or frequencies, one in one ear and the other in the other ear. Different frequency combinations produce different results such as reduced stress, increased confidence or sleep.
But not all meditation programs have or need binaural beats to help you find your peaceful state. The meditation program that works for one person may not work for another.
Do your own exploration and find the kind of meditation that’s best for you.
3. Dr Write and the Left-Handed Girl
Dr Write and the Left-Handed Girl is my name for a form of drawing and writing.
Journal writing is the equivalent of taking out the mental trash. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way suggests writing three “morning pages” every day.
I adopted a particular form of drawing and writing using my non-dominant hand. (I’m right-handed, therefore in this practice, I’m the left handed girl.)
It works like this.
First draw a picture. If possible, large paper and large markers or pastels are better. Let your mind relax and allow your deeper mind to decide what you draw. The reason it works is this kind of drawing is more likely to be free of judgement, because after all, you can’t expect to do a good drawing with your “wrong” hand!
After you draw, write about the picture, also with your non-dominant hand. What you’ll discover will surprise you.
Kind of takes you back to your kindergarten days, right?
4. Connect with Earth, Water, and Growing Things
This is a picture I took on a recent day I took all my plants “to the spa”.
They all received new soil, all leaves were bathed in compost tea, and any yellow leaves removed before they were all thoroughly soaked, also with compost tea, and drained in the sink.
This corner is also a sacred space and the objects in it have personal meaning. My mom, who is now deceased, painted the picture. My cousin threw three of the pots. The buddha was a gift from a friend.
And every morning on my way by I say good morning to the plants, tell them how beautiful they are, and touch their leaves.
And I’m mindful.
Other ways to connect?
Sitting on the grass. Putting your feet (or all of you) in water – ocean, river, swimming pool at the rec centre. Standing in the midst of trees. Sensing the wisdom and possibility of nature all around you.
5. A Sacred Ritual for Your Sensual Self
Sacred. Sensual. Sassy. Sexy.
Being in touch with your sensual self means simply being in touch with your senses, all your senses – touching, smelling, tasting, hearing, seeing, even your extra sensory perceptions.
For this ritual activate all those senses.
- Find some music and move your body to it. Dance your heart out in your own rhythm of life dance. Dance around the room making everything you see a part of your dance.
- Light a candle in the dark and stare with soft eyes into the flame. Notice the beautiful colour at the heart of the fire.
- Have a scented bath and luxuriate for as long as you want. Put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. Plug in your earphones and listen to your greatest hits.
- Create your own mantra and speak it, sing it, dance it, even finger-paint it and hang it on your wall!
- Eat a juicy mango or some white chocolate and raspberry gelatto. (Or pick any flavour, that one just happens to be my favourite!)
It doesn’t matter what the sacred ritual is. Make it your own.
Women are feeling creatures. When we are out of touch with our sensual nature, we’re out of touch with the foundation of our power.
Reclaim that power with all your senses.
Make Up Your Own Sacred Ritual and Share It With a Friend
I don’t think I need to give instructions for this one. Imagine it into being.
Being stressed and strapped for time, this practice may be the first thing you want to give up.
Don’t do it.
In this crazy busy world, sacred ritual is your path to stillness.
Stillness gives you access to everything in the field of consciousness. And like a message in a bottle, the thoughts and insights that appear can surprise and delight you. When the surface is wavy, dive deeper for quieter waters.
Through sacred ritual, you can see through the illusion that the external world has more power over you than your internal world. When you hear that quiet wise voice whispering in your ear, you know you are inhabiting your sacred ritual.
What would change in your life if you devoted at least ten minutes a day to a sacred ritual?