Monday, June 18, 2012
Inside every ritual exists an ingredient that turns the ordinary into extraordinary
Small rituals hold the potential to make a huge difference in our lives. Things like cleaning our closets, washing our car, making a heart shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich for our kid's lunch, offering thanks before every meal, a sensual bath before a night love making, combing our hair before bed--things we do on a daily basis can be ritualized and in the process made holy.
Something as insignificant as folding laundry can feel glorious if you allow it because inside every ritual exists an ingredient that turns the ordinary into extraordinary. Writer and producer Ahmed Zappa's memory of his mother making the bed is filled with beauty. "I had this whole ritual with my mother making the bed with me inside so that I would be invisible." Play, pretend, and love in this every day seemingly insignificant act transported the young boy into another world, where things were sweet and wonderful. With this his mother and he traveled to the land of milk and honey.
Practiced with mindfulness, rituals allow for a deeper connection to self, others, our beautiful planet and the divine. Rituals provide meaning and context to our multilayered experience on earth. Of course, religious rituals are meant to teach and remind us of our divinity, but what I am talking about here are those daily activities that concern the things we do out of habit, and mostly in a hurry. Those activities that we perform when no one is looking hold an incredible potency to bring us much joy and ultimately connectedness. The day is filled with humdrum functions that have the capacity for wondrous. Letting it flow or being awake to that magic is all it takes.
Most of us probably already have some ritual that we embrace almost second nature that brings us tranquility, lightness, inspiration, pleasure, or joy. Lighting incense or a candle, preparing meals, bathing in lavender salts, writing, singing, playing an instrument, drawing... Being cognizant about their meaning as we do them will enhance the experience.
In my book I included several recipes that I shared and offered to be practiced as rituals. One of my favorites is sensual bath before a date. While the ingredients-- oranges, fresh mint, warm or hot water and a clean bathtub - are all one needs, it's in the act itself and the intention that can flip the entire experience from an typical bath to a stupendous soak.
Maybe because they are so keen on celebrating the holiness of everyday, I find the culture of Bali intriguing and inspiring Outside every home is a shrine to the house spirits, which on any given day can be good or evil. The amazing thing about this is that the entire family is responsible for maintaing the altars and ultimately, for appeasing the gods and goddesses of the home with sweet offerings. The result is remarkable, lovingly and meticulously constructed and cared for altars are sublime. I bet that these altars, and the act of caring for them, must remind the inhabitants of these homes of their own divinity since the goddesses and gods are breathing the same air!
Bringing ritual into your life doesn't mean constructing shrines that are worthy of Guggenheim exhibits. Rather, it's in the simple act and actions of everyday life where the potential for awesome exists.
Posted by Sandra Guzman at 1:54 PM