by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac
A ritual is a set of actions, performed for their symbolic value or to reach an outcome. Brushing your teeth or eating breakfast is a ritual. We do them everyday. Some rituals are done monthly, like paying our bills or paying the rent. We do seasonal rituals like planting the garden, harvesting the fields or once a year rituals like celebrating a birthday or a holiday.
Rituals give us the opportunity to start anew, refresh and reboot our lives, our intentions or goals. Rituals can be done with simple words (like a prayer or affirmation) other rituals use tools such as incense, water, candles or oils.
Since the start of the New Year, I have participated in several rituals that many people experience… the countdown to New Years, the cleaning and sweeping of our home after the holidays and the family ritual of lighting a candle on New Year’s day.
In year’s past, I have always had the privilege of working with and studying from Ecuadorian Shamans in the upcountry outside of Quito. This year I had the great honor of working with a spiritualist/psychic, Sylvia Mendez, who privileged me with a sacred “spiritual” cleansing, called “Levantamento” (to wake or rise up). It is basically done with prayers, candles, meditation and a cleansing bath with a special castille soap and a dowsing of a prepared herbal bath used for clearing and refreshing the mind/body/spirit.
There is not necessarily any religious or denominational beliefs one needs to do a cleansing. I do feel that a belief in a higher or Universal power is important. To realize that we are not always in control of our lives, is a humbling and moving experience. I think your own belief system can make your rituals that much more powerful!
The components of a ritual can be anything. For instance, the ritual of brushing your teeth, need only be the toothbrush, toothpaste and some water. The process of that ritual, most everyone knows. You set your intention: “I’m going to brush my teeth in order to have a clean mouth and avoid cavities”. Maybe you wet the brush and add the paste. Brush up and down and all around. Maybe you brush your tongue. Rinse and finish. You may repeat this twice or three times a day. It is the same sequence of events for any ritual.
You gather your tools, prepare your intention, act upon the intention and then you finish, allowing for your actions to take affect. Here are some examples of healing rituals you can do:
A ritual meditation or affirmation are several words or images that you can use to create a base for your ritual. A meditation or affirmation can be done once or several times a day. It implies a connection between your inner life and your mind’s eye. Your inner life (or spiritual center) becomes in tune with your mind’s eye (or focus and intention).
A wonderful and powerful tool for creating self-love and confidence is to stand, facing yourself in the mirror. Repeat a positive affirmation “I will be filled with pride and confidence today”. “I will remain at peace and calm all day”. “I look handsome and confident”. Whatever your words, the power of repeating your affirmations to yourself in the mirror (and throughout the day) is a ritual of self-empowerment.
A great meditation you can do at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day, can simply be sitting (grounded) on the floor and closing your eyes. Taking some very deep breaths in, so that each breath reaches all the way down to your pelvic bone and then exhale s-l-o-w-l-y each time. Choose an image, person or scenario that empowers you. Always go back to it when you find your mind drifting. Take your focus to the back of your eyelids. Let whatever comes into your mind pass through, then let it go. When you are ready move your focus to between your eyebrow, to your Third Eye. Sense it opening and filling your mind with your chosen image. Allow it to expand outside your head and fill the room. Your image is now, all around you. When you are ready, slowly bring the image back and contain it with your Third Eye again. Move your focus back to behind your eyelids. Then, when you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
A ritual bath or “magical” ceremony involving the use of water to immerse or anoint a subject’s body and/or feet, prepares one to be more aware, conscious and open for new opportunities. It can be used to cleanse the mind, the body, as well as embrace the spirit. Ritual baths can clear negative energies and prepare yourself for accomplishments. First, clean your bath tub. Run the warm/hot water. As you do this, add a cup of sea salt, perhaps a tablespoon of lavender, clary sage or rose essential oils and as a final touch, a handful of flower petals. Swirl these ingredients around in the bath water and immerse yourself for a good 15-20 minutes. You can add some nice stress reducers, such as incense, low lighting or candles and soothing music. Make this ritual “your time”, as you deserve it!
A ritual tea or tea ceremony has been done for centuries to honor ancestors, embrace the change of seasons or as a “time out” from the day. I always like using fresh or dried herbs sans the tea bag. One or two teaspoons of herbs per serving. Use clear spring water. Colder and fresher makes a tastier, livelier infusion. Warm the steeping pot. Pour the measured, fresh water into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat the water until it just comes to a rolling boil. Add the tea leaves to the warmed steeping pot (one teaspoon per cup, plus one “for the pot”). Immediately pour the boiled water over the loose leaves; cover the pot. Steep three to five minutes for most teas. Longer, to taste. Also be sure and steep the herbs longer for the teas made from sticks, twigs, roots or berries, as well as, herbal infusions.
A ritual with crystals is another way to relax and find stillness after your day. You can use 7 or 9 crystals and place them on the floor in a circle. Choosing the crystals that call to you that day are often the ones you need the most! You can choose crystals to use for your circle based on their colors, names, mineral make-up or the power they give to your life. Lay down within the circle and close your eyes. Sense the ground beneath you accepting your weight. Feel your body relax with each breath as you allow yourself to melt into the floor. Sense the energy of the crystals as they have something to lend to you and that is their subtle energies for healing. After your session, you can carry one or a few of these crystals with you throughout the day or place them in a room where you need some energy. Your instincts will never fail you.
These are just a few rituals we do or can do in our lives in order to bring about, peace, confidence and empowerment!