My dear friends...
Last week we discussed in this space Movement as a tool in the creation of The Holy Experience. We also promised that this week we would explore yet one more tool: Ritual. Let’s look at that now.
The dictionary defines ritual as a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone, often according to a prescribed order.
Rituals are patterns of ordered living. By their nature they move us into non-awareness by their autonomic forms. They are essential to all societies.
When the Ritual has a strong spiritual, emotional, or psychological component, it can often be a powerful Instrument of the Holy Experience. Chanting might be just such a ritual. Or praying in a certain repetitive way, such as saying the rosary. (A form of devotion in the Roman Catholic faith in which five, fifteen, or twenty decades of Hail Marys are repeated, each decade preceded by an Our Father and followed by a Glory Be.) Or meditation, for a certain length of time in a certain way at a certain time of day every day.
Some Rituals are much shorter than others in the performing, but it is less about the length of time they take and more about the place they take the Mind—which is away from the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute world of our exterior reality and into the confines of the Soul; away from the data and into the non-data, where no moment is about information, but only about experience; away from fear and into love—love of Life, love of God, and love of Self.
You may wish to find a Ritual, or to create one, which can serve you as a tool in this way.
For instance, each morning when I arise I say the same thing inside my head. The exact same thing at the exact same time. Just after “coming to,” I say: Thank you, God, for another day and another chance to be my Highest Self.
I also have a ritual when I take my daily shower. I sing Oh, what a beautiful morning, that fabulous song from the Broadway show Oklahoma!
Sometimes I sing it aloud and sometimes in my head. I sing it because…
(a) I love the opening lyrics
(b) It is impossible for me to stay in a “bad mood” while I’m singing (even if I got up on the “wrong side of the bed”), and my good mood usually stays with me for quite a while
The opening lyrics, by the way, are…
Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Oh, what a beautiful day!
I’ve got a wonderful feeling
everything’s goin’ my way!
I also have a ritual when I go to sleep at night. I say: Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better. (This is the famous phrase that the French physician and philosopher Emile Coué told the soldiers that he was treating in tents behind the front lines during World War I to repeat 100 times a day. He called this process Auto-Suggestion.) I say it 11 times each night. Don’t ask me why. That’s just a number I’ve chosen. Hey, it’s a ritual!
And finally, I have a ritual whenever I encounter anything “untoward” or challenging during my day. Again, it is a little thing that I say: Thank you, God, for helping me to understand that this problem has already been solved for me.
These are some of my rituals, and I have others. They are my ways of building a path to the Holy Experience. Perhaps from my description of them, you will create some personal ones of your own.
Hugs and love,
Read this week's Letter to Neale here
Read a message from one of the prisoners impacted by our Prison Outreach HERE
Every week we present a new bulletin written by Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch. Once you've signed up you will be sent CWG related emails and a notification whenever the newest bulletin is available.