Moving forward with Ritual
We spend our lives looking for “who we are”. What is our
Our lives are spent discovering and fulfilling our calling and we are not comfortable in our own skin until we are living it. (Image from John Eyres from E4E)
When we are in search of our own calling, we ask everyone but ourselves the questions and are then surprised when we get caught living our lives focused on meeting other people’s expectations.
Humans have used ritual as a catalyst for change for millennia. Sometimes particular old stories or filters that can be extra hard to move forward from, and in these instances, a ritual can be very helpful.
The main elements of ritual that have been found to be critical for change are:
There has to be a conscious effort to reflect on
Who we want to be in our next chapter, where we are going
What did we learn from our past experiences that will help us move forward (ie. I am resilient, determined, despite all odds here I am never giving up) and what lessons do we have to consciously let go of (i.e. I am a failure, I am unlovable, I am not safe unless I keep other people happy etc)
TIP: We MUST CONNECT TO THE FEELINGS as we go through this process because that is where all of the old physiological hooks are. The ones that catch us off guard when they show up and send us into fight or flight in an instant – the adult who gets anxious at hearing a dog bark after being bitten by one as a child. In order for this process to be as effective and meaningful as possible, we have to LEAN INTO THE FEELINGS that come up through this process.
It is very important that we reflect on OUR ACTUAL EXPERIENCE, not how we think we are supposed to think or feel about things that have happened.
This requires us to be NON-JUDGMENTAL and ACCEPTING of whatever thoughts or feelings come up, even when they don’t make sense, or seem unfair to others (i.e., we may be angry at someone for not protecting us even when we know it was impossible for them to do so, to be upset at a partner for cheating even though we have also cheated, or to be upset with someone for getting ill or dying etc). Follow the feelings anyway, they are part of our experience and need to be processed whether they make sense or not.
Humans use fire and water in rituals in every culture in the world. We don’t have to use these symbols, but there does seem to be a biological affinity with the use of these particular symbols and change
FIRE is usually used as a symbol of
The most important part of the Symbols section though is that you are curious about what will work best for us and that we pay attention to our intuition and listen to the answer. For example, some cultures act out banishing old stories using masks or dances, and for them it is equally effective. Some just create masks that represent the old stories and hang them in their homes to symbolize that where they came from, but that they choose to no longer wear that mask etc.
Rituals are even used in sports, watch the Maori’s Haka being done by the All Blacks Rugby team (New Zealand). My favourite ones are at 2min 40 onwards and the one after.
NOTE: Creating a ritual is not usually an all in one day type of process, for some it takes days, months or even years to create a truly meaningful ritual, you have to follow your own instinct to know what will be required for you.
It is also important to know that some rituals are done alone, and others involve other people as witnesses or participants. Ask yourself which way feels best to you and trust your instinct.
How successful a ritual is depends on how much effort and investment we put into the preparation. It is also helpful to know that we can repeat a ritual more than once as needed.
Good luck with your new beginnings as we move towards 2015!
“Just when the caterpillar thought their life was over…they began to fly!” – Anonymous