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The Power of Ritual

Earthen oil lamps lit with flowers during the performance of a hindu ritual.

Please welcome my friend and fellow yoga teacher Bija Bennett to the Whole Life Yoga blog today.  Rituals are so powerful!  Thanks, Bija, for allowing me to reprint this article!

Rituals give form to our lives, not just on the surface, but emotionally. We need rituals to connect deeply with ourselves.

Rituals have been celebrated in every culture and religion throughout time. Designed to inspire us, help set our intentions, and give us focus, they make our resolutions personal, powerful, and true.

Rituals elevate us to what is higher — to our potential, our life’s goals — and remind us that our highest values should direct our lives.

A ritual can be something as simple as sitting quietly and repeating an intention or word, lighting a candle, planting a tree every Arbor Day, or walking a hundred steps after you eat (an old Indian ritual). In taking a small step toward ritual, you make an outward sign of your inward focus, indicating that your commitments and intentions are real.

In every ritual, from the simplest to the most elaborate, from the spiritual to the mundane, the steps involved are very much the same: geometry, structure, rhythm, and intent.

Use these steps as ideas or suggestions for creating your own personal ritual. Then, whatever you choose to do, do it simply. It doesn’t have to be fancy or take long. It need only be regular and full of intention and meaning.

1.  Geometry: Define your space. Set the symbolic elements before you – a candle, picture, icon – and situate yourself in a certain relationship to these things. It’s not the objects that are important, but the faith in these objects that make them emotionally sacred.

2.  Structure: Give your ritual a beginning and an ending. Carefully arrange the steps, length, and sequence to create the body of your ritual.

3.  Rhythm: The progressive sequence of events, actions, thoughts, or prayers leads you into the ritual itself, and leads out of it, letting you resume your normal life.

4.  Intent: The purpose behind your ritual directs your ritual to fulfillment. The possibilities are numerous: opening your heart, connecting you to someone or something, completion, healing, asking for help, gratitude, self-reflection, linking with a higher power. Ritual isn’t a mindless movement. It’s a focusing technique to systematically give you an anchor point within.

This New Year, take your resolutions and make them into rituals. Personal rituals are important because of their enormous power to comfort and heal.

Learn more from my book, Emotional Yoga: How the Body Can Heal the Mind (Simon & Schuster)

Thanks, Bija!

Tracy Weber

books available

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!